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Crawford vs Horn: Fight preview and matchup

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Terence Crawford challenges Jeff Horn for the WBO welterweight title on Saturday.

Terence Crawford

Terence Crawford v Felix Diaz Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Record: 32-0 (23 KO) ... Streak: W32 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’8” / 70” ... Age: 30

Thoughts: Bud Crawford has emerged as one of the top fighters in the sport since 2014, when he went to Glasgow and knocked off Ricky Burns to win the WBO lightweight title. He made two defenses of that belt, beating Yuriorkis Gamboa and Ray Beltran, before moving up to 140.

At 140, he beat Thomas Dulorme for the vacant WBO title, then defended against Dierry Jean and Hank Lundy before meeting Viktor Postol in a much-hyped unification bout. Crawford dominated Postol, a good but basic fighter who couldn’t match Crawford’s arsenal and more dynamic skill set. He’s since defended against John Molina Jr and Felix Diaz, then did a full unification last August, knocking out Julius Indongo in the third round.

So Crawford made 140 his division for real, leaving absolutely no doubts or arguments that he was the best at the weight. Now he’s moving up to 147, still probably boxing’s premier division, home to fighters who might well give him more trouble than he’s faced in his career, at least if he can get a fight with the likes of Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter — you know, the Haymon guys who don’t always make for easy negotiations with Top Rank fighters like Terence.

But for now, that’s future thinking. Jeff Horn is in front of Crawford, defending the WBO belt, and Bud wants to become a three-division champion at age 30. A lot of people are assuming he’ll win handily, and it’s fair enough. Crawford is a massive betting favorite and probably should be. While he doesn’t have a name like Manny Pacquiao on his record, he also has never been involved in a controversial decision like Horn was against the Filipino legend. Crawford’s wins have been clear and usually pretty dominant. There’s a reason he’s considered by some to be the best in the sport pound-for-pound, and considered a top contender to that throne, at the very least, by everyone.

So Bud’s the favorite here, despite being the challenger. He’s the A-side on all promotional material that isn’t based in Australia, despite being the challenger. He’s expected to win clearly. But because of all that, the pressure is arguably more on Crawford than it is on Horn. It’s probably the biggest fight of Crawford’s career to date.

Jeff Horn

Battle of Brisbane - Hornet v Hellraiser Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Record: 18-0-1 (12 KO) ... Streak: W15 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’9” / 68” ... Age: 30

Thoughts: Conventional wisdom is that Horn will have a size advantage as Crawford is moving up in weight, but Crawford actually has the longer reach by a couple of inches, and Horn is only listed as an inch taller. But if we’re talking about body size on fight night, Horn should be heavier. Or at least you’d expect.

The thing is, I don’t think Horn’s size advantage is enough in and of itself. It’s going to have to come with effective pressure, an ability to absorb punishment, and, well, he’s gonna have to get rough in there if he’s going to have a chance. He has to make it a physical battle and wear on Crawford.

As for where Horn is at in his career, he’s got something of a storybook tale going. Yes, his win over Manny Pacquiao was highly controversial, but he got the duke at home in Australia, and that was huge for him. His lone title defense thus far was a clear win via stoppage over Gary Corcoran, and though Corcoran wasn’t a real contender, it was still big for Horn, and big for his confidence going forward.

As far as skills go, I do think he’s outmatched against Crawford, but I think most people at 140 or 147 would be, too, and that includes some of the guys thought to be the “real” top fighters at 147.

Honestly, no, I don’t think Horn has much of a shot here, but I do think he has the ability to perhaps make it interesting, at least. That all depends on him finding a way to use his physicality. Easier said than done — Crawford is quicker, slicker, sharper, and just plain better, at least on paper.

Matchup Grade: B-. It’s one of the best in the sport against a titleholder. You can argue Horn’s titleholder status and the win over Manny Pacquiao, but it is what it is. He holds the WBO welterweight title and is defending it. But on paper this might be a mismatch, admittedly. What makes me give it a fairly strong grade is that I think there might be some real entertainment in this style matchup. Horn is a tough dude, gritty and scrappy, and Crawford, while having the skills to wash him out, probably, is going to have to deal with that, I think. Or maybe he’ll thrash him and we all come away in awe of Bud once more. Good possibility that’s the case, but I like the matchup, and I’m trying to be more positive lately, so hey, what the hell?