Canelo Alvarez and Terence Crawford are both coming off of completely dominant wins in big event, big money, undisputed championship fights. Last night, Canelo routed Jermell Charlo, and in late July, Crawford decimated Errol Spence Jr.
Now, there are some people asking the question: Should Canelo and Crawford fight in 2024? Maybe you’re a diehard boxing fan and you’re already letting all the steam shoot out of your ears about the “casuals” you hate so much. But hang with me here. We’ll get to it.
To start, Canelo did field a question about Crawford last night at his post-fight presser, and he left it open.
“I always say if the fight makes sense, why not? But he’s not in the plan,” Canelo said. “If it makes sense, maybe. I don’t know right now.”
I feel you. I sense you still being mad. Veins in your neck bulging. So let’s start with the “cons” in the pros and cons thing. Relax, man, it’s gonna be OK.
The biggest, most obvious problem with the Canelo vs Crawford idea is that Canelo fights at 168 lbs and Terence Crawford at 147 lbs. Those 21 lbs may not seem like the most massive difference, but they are. It’s enormous.
Even truly great fighters have their limits in size, and it’s why we have weight classes.
In recent memory, Floyd Mayweather probably could have picked up some paper title or other as a middleweight at 160, but he never went there, because he’d fought at 154 and knew that was his limit. He wasn’t quite himself, but he was still great — and pushing it.
Oscar De La Hoya did, controversially, pick up a paper title at 160, then fought Bernard Hopkins and got crushed with a body shot, and never went back to that weight. Manny Pacquiao did one single fight over 147 lbs, a 150 lb catchweight against a cooked Antonio Margarito. Pacquiao dominated the fight, but admitted it was just too big of a weight for him to truly be Manny Pacquiao. And we’re talking three (3) lbs on the scale there.
Canelo (60-2-2, 39 KO) also is not going to fight under 168 lbs again, no matter the opponent. The last time he did so was to fight Daniel Jacobs in May 2019, and he’d already flirted with moving up to 168 by then. He’s still the biggest star in the sport, nobody dictates terms to Canelo Alvarez.
Since that Jacobs bout, Canelo has had nine fights, seven at 168 and two up at 175 in the light heavyweight division. Terence Crawford has never fought over 147, and he is 36 years old, three years older than Canelo. Canelo started his career as a 140 lb fighter, yes, but he was 15 years old.
Crawford will, at some point, likely move up to 154. Maybe even 160. But Canelo’s not going to go under 168, and 168 is huge for Crawford, a guy who started his career and won his first world title at 135.
Canelo has a three-fight deal with PBC, with one already in the can. It’s expected he’ll fight in May and September again in 2024 to fulfill that deal. Crawford just worked with PBC for the first time, but would he be ready to jump to 168 in a year, and will he even still be working with PBC?
Canelo’s most likely May opponent is David Benavidez, provided Benavidez beats Demetrius Andrade in the fall. If Andrade beats Benavidez, he might finally get that Canelo fight he’s been begging for for years now. Listen, if Canelo can promote his side of a fight with, “Jermell Charlo once said, I think, that he didn’t respect my skills,” well, there’s a lot more old Andrade material to pull than that.
Also looming on the PBC side could be Jermall Charlo, if he gets back in the ring. He’d be more likely for the September 2024 fight. Jermall is a complete wild card, but there’s obviously story there now, a brother looking for family revenge.
Terence Crawford is not an idiot, either. This is not a guy who has rushed head-first into things, and he’d want time to acclimate himself and properly move up if he was even going to consider trying it for real. Can Terence do that in a year’s time? Right now, he has to either do an Errol Spence Jr rematch or wriggle his way out of that by presenting weight terms — it’s his call — that Spence doesn’t accept.
A Spence rematch would be either 154 or 147. That’s going to take up a chunk of time, probably even if it doesn’t happen, just through back-and-forth between the camps. If it’s 154, that would be helpful for Crawford. But it’s still 14 lbs below 168, and as Jermell Charlo found out, that ain’t nothin’.
Crawford (40-0, 31 KO) also doesn’t sound like he plans to fight forever. He’s realistic about both his age and the danger of boxing, period, and especially if you hang around too long past your peak. He’s made good and great money for quite a while now. How many more fights will he even have?
Listen, man, it’s potentially a huge fight. Boxing is a business well before it’s a sport by any head-on comparison to other professional sports. And we’re talking the potential for a lot of money.
If Canelo were to win in May, and Crawford gets the Spence rematch or whatever done within that same sort of time frame, there will be money out there for Canelo vs Crawford. A ton of it. It may “make sense.” A whole lot of sense.
Those two short paragraphs can completely out-weigh everything in the “cons” section.
Crawford is very ambitious. If he looks at Canelo and sees a guy he truly believes he can beat, if he bulks up in the gym and feels good sparring and all that, there’s a good chance that someone as great as Terence Crawford will say, “I can beat that guy. And what an incredible addition to my resume that would be.”
Crawford is already locked for the Hall of Fame, so is Canelo. There’s no question about that. (If you think there is, please remember that Barry McGuigan and Arturo Gatti and Tim Bradley are in the Hall of Fame; the standard is not Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson and never has been.)
Canelo is also ambitious, and does care about his legacy. But “legacy” and achievements can also be spun a lot of ways in boxing. I mean, look, Mario Barrios will today claim he is a “two-time” world champion after winning a secondary WBA belt at 140 and last night, a WBC interim belt at 147. Technically, he will have his claim. In reality, nobody much takes it seriously.
But if Canelo sees a guy in Terence Crawford who is undefeated, one of the biggest stars in the sport, a generational great fighter like himself, who has gone undisputed in two divisions and, potentially by then, won world titles in four divisions (it’s currently three), he can turn that into “legacy” real easy.
And the truth is, a lot of people out there will believe it. The people yelling on the internet, including all of us, do not comprise the bulk of boxing’s fan base.
“Wow, what a clever turn from you,” you’re saying to me. Timing as a con and a pro?
Say Canelo fights and beats David Benavidez in May. What else do you want to see from him at 168? Say Dmitry Bivol or Artur Beterbiev won’t or can’t fight him at 175, is there a fight you really want to see at that weight? He’s already won a belt at 175, there’s nothing basic to do there.
He’s flirted with the idea of cruiserweight already, but are you really that pumped to see Canelo vs Badou Jack over Canelo vs Terence Crawford? Does the Jermall Charlo idea really get you that excited?
And for Crawford, say he beats Spence again, or whatever he does next. What is there at 147 or 154 you really want? Boots Ennis, sure, and I hear you, but Bud doesn’t seem that interested in doing that fight. Take it as you will, but Ennis doesn’t have the star power he wants to close his career with big fights.
So yeah, the timing and situations for both guys, depending on how certain things break, could make Canelo vs Crawford the absolute most attractive idea for both fighters by next summer.
Should the fight happen?
Boxing just does not work like other sports. If the money is there and the timing is right, absolutely, Canelo vs Crawford can happen in 2024.
Should it? That’s a totally different question, and one for the internet yelling, the diehard fans and the pundits, who will still be talking about the fight three weeks later, unlike the majority who make it worth all that cash.
As it stands now, I have a hard time seeing it as a great fight, and I think Terence Crawford is the best boxer in the world pound-for-pound, with the only argument coming from Naoya Inoue, not today’s Canelo Alvarez.
But there is the part of me that would be intrigued to see it, of course. It’s two great fighters. Two guys who want to go down as all-timers. And two guys who want to be called the best of the best in their time.
Just as a fan, I’m clearly conflicted.
Would I be surprised if we get it?
No. And you shouldn’t be either. This is boxing.