With some talent, you can just see it on full display. It's right there, in your face and you couldn't deny it if you tried. More than a lot of fighters you might watch, that seems to be the case with Nebraska's undefeated Terence Crawford.
Over the course of an impressive career, Crawford has managed to compile a ledger of 37-0 with 28 stoppage wins. But more than just the numbers themselves, he has managed to beat some very solid competition that makes up that unblemished record.
First finding major success at Lightweight, Crawford travelled across the pond to defeat Ricky Burns in his backyard of Glasgow, Scotland, capturing his WBO title in the process. He followed that up by handing Yuriorkis Gamboa his first defeat, stopping the Cuban stand out in the first defense of his newly-acquired gold.
And remember: he did this before the next generation of fighters had beaten Gamboa into powder. All in all, this was a relatively fresh Gamboa that fully expected to win the fight.
Following his success at Lightweight, Crawford moved five pounds north, where he managed to unify all four major titles, becoming just the third man in history to accomplish such a feat. While the competition against which he managed the feat wasn't Earth-shattering, it's a remarkable feat nonetheless.
And say what you will about Thomas Dulorme, Viktor Postol and Julius Indongo -- the men through which he managed to unify the division -- but they make up a better list of boxers than you'll find on a lot of current fighter's resumes. As sad as that may be.
However, the switch-hitting Crawford has had a less eventful and meaningful campaign at Welterweight. While he's faced some recognizable names, including the likes of Jeff Horn, Amir Khan and Kell Brook in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively, he hasn't quite had the sort of run you'd expect of a fighter with his talent. Sure, it could be considered holding him to a pretty high standard, but it's something his talent more than warrants.
To be fair, it's not exactly his fault. At least on the surface, he seems ready to challenge the best 147 pound fighters on the planet. The problem seems to be more to blame with boxing's typical political nonsense than anything else. Signed to Top Rank, there are simply limited standout options for the American to face at 147 pounds.
Barring undisputed world Jr. Welterweight champion Josh Taylor moving up for a very intriguing encounter, Crawford comes up short of options when he looks in-house for competition. Quite frankly, the vast majority of talent at Welterweight all resides with Premier Boxing Champions, an outfit Top Rank has sparingly worked with in the past.
Leaving aside the rest of the mind-numbing details of boxing's political landscape, we are left with Crawford in search of a career-defining endeavor. He lacks that one major challenge-completed that could send his career to newer heights.
For boxing fans, the hope and desire would have been to see Crawford match his exceptional talents against the equally impressive, unbeaten Errol Spence. However, Spence, a PBC fighter, has shown little interest in the contest. Whether flatly claiming the fight needs to wait and build, to stating he wants a split of the money he knows Team Crawford won't accept, Spence has yet to seem all too keen on the fight.
However, hope could be on the horizon in the form of a showdown with the Always Wants Smoke award winner Shawn Porter. The pair meet up in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay this Saturday, live on pay-per-view, in one of the year-end's most exciting match-ups. With Porter being a PBC fighter, this could be a nice sign that the sides can work together.
Regardless, before any bigger fights can be made, some would suggest more than just Crawford's WBO Welterweight title could be on the line against Porter.
For Porter, things sort of are what they are. While a win does breathe more life into his career by all means, we sort of get the sense that it would say more about Crawford not being a great Welterweight than it would about Porter himself being one. With losses to Kell Brook back in 2014, Keith Thurman in 2016 and the aforementioned Spence in 2019, Porter has more or less lost in every major step up at 147 pounds.
This isn't to say a win is meaningless for Shawn, but it more than likely means Crawford wasn't what we thought he could be at Welterweight, not that the assessment of Porter up to this point has been wrong. And in a loss, Porter loses little in the eyes of most reasonable fans. He's always been game, been willing to take on the toughest tasks. Barring a one-round blowout, he still earns the street cred so few boxers in the sport currently possess.
For Crawford, the stakes are much higher -- in both directions.
Naturally, a win does wonders for his career and can help propel him into a different type of conversation for boxers. While some might not rank him the best fighter in the world in terms of skill combined with record, it keeps that discussion legitimate. It also puts pressure on the other top dogs at Welterweight to face Crawford, a pressure many have neglected to feel up to this point in time.
Equally, a loss could really reshape the narrative surrounding the Omaha native.
If he's to fall short in the biggest fight of his career in a historically important division like Welterweight, it could cast a major shadow upon his career. While losing to Porter certainly isn't a shameful act, Crawford simply isn't in a position to do such a thing.
For starters, this fight means too much to his legacy. This is to be his coronation, his true coming out party. It could be both the first time he is successful at the top end of Welterweight, but also the first time he performs well on a pay-per-view that people might actually buy. For him to fall short on such a stage would be a hard picture to frame well.
One must also recognize the extenuating circumstances for Crawford, namely his age. At 34-years-old, the American might not be in the best position to rebuild his career. Granted, if it's a close loss, he has a better shot in a return match of setting the record straight. Still, that could cost him valuable time near the presumed finish of his career.
With a loss, one questions just how far he could fall in the minds of many fans. In a single fight, he could go from a fighter many expected to make the Hall of Fame to a really-good-but-possibly-not-great pugilist. While it might see harsh, a single fight could violently swing public perception that drastically.
While the odds would suggest Crawford is the overwhelming favorite to defeat Porter on Saturday night in the desert, one only has to ask Kid Galahad how well the supposed odds defend you once the bell rings.
While it's tough to say what will happen on the night, as it always is when two world class operators square off, one thing is for certain: More than just a world title is on the line for Terence Crawford.
Thanks for reading, I do hope you enjoyed. Please, feel free to leave a comment, love to read them all. Also, if you're at all interested, be sure to check out my predictions for Terence Crawford vs. Shawn Porter here
and four Demetrius Andrade vs. Jason Quigley, Jose Cesar Martinez vs. McWilliams Arroyo and Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs. Jose Velasquez here
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