Terence Crawford is set to defend his WBO welterweight title and spot near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings on Saturday when he faces Amir Khan in an ESPN pay-per-view main event from Madison Square Garden.
Crawford (34-0, 25 KO) is the incredibly heavy favorite for this fight, and with plenty of good reason, as Khan (33-4, 20 KO) has had opportunities like this before and come up well short.
But Crawford isn’t taking the talented-but-flawed Khan lightly, either.
“I don’t believe no fight that I fight is ‘just another fight’ for me,” he said. “I believe all the fighters that I fight from here on out is for my legacy. That’s why I want the biggest fights out there.
“Amir Khan’s name came up because he was the next-best welterweight in the division. I could’ve easily took Collazo; like he said he could’ve took another fight with Kell Brook, I could’ve took Collazo. But that wasn’t the job that I really wanted to take.
“Amir Khan is a great fighter, I can’t take nothing away from him. He’s done a lot in the sport of boxing, he has a big name, he’s undefeated in the welterweight division. So why not take another step up?”
Asked whether it bothers him that people supposedly don’t give him enough credit for his record, with world titles in three weight classes, Crawford admitted that at times it gets to him.
“Sometimes it bothers me, but that just shows how dominant I am,” he said. “When you’ve got undefeated gold medalists and undefeated world champions — before the fight, a lot of writers and fans think that they’re gonna steamroll me or they’re too big for me or this is gonna be the toughest fight of my career.
“After the fight, they say, ‘Well, he wasn’t that good, he was a stand-up fighter, or he was slow. We knew you was gonna do this, we just had to hype up the fight.’ So now they discredit me. But when you look at the fighters that I done fought, most of them are never the same after they fought me.”
Crawford says he simply wants people to respect his ability.
“I just want people to respect me for my talent and the skills that I have, the willingness to go in there and fight anybody and everybody that’s available,” he said.
Trainer Brian McIntyre, who is usually the far more colorful of the duo on the mic, spoke about working against the famed Virgil Hunter, who is back in Khan’s corner.
“It’s an honor to be across the ring from Virgil Hunter,” McIntyre said. “The fights that they had, Amir performed very, very well. I kept that in mind. And I also kept in mind that I’m glad Amir went back with Virgil Hunter, because I don’t want him to have no excuses when Terence starts touching him.”
With so many expecting Crawford to win without much trouble on Saturday night, many fans and folks in the media are already looking forward to what will be next for the WBO welterweight titleholder.
Crystina Poncher, hosting the press conference, didn’t say “Errol Spence Jr” or “Keith Thurman” or “Shawn Porter” or even “Manny Pacquiao” out loud, but she asked if Crawford would try to pressure promoter Bob Arum into making a fight with one of those names, all part of the PBC team.
“I can put pressure, I can put a gun to they head, but that still ain’t gonna make the fight happen,” Crawford said. “They’re gonna make the fight when they want it to happen. I done put pressure on them for years with the Pacquiao fight, and the Pacquiao fight never happened.
“It’s not my job to worry about that, I just have to keep fighting the fights that they put in front of me to feed my family.”