On Saturday night from Madison Square Garden, NYC, Terrence Crawford makes the 2nd defense of his WBO welterweight strap against Amir Khan. Khan represents the biggest name Crawford’s has faced thus far, as Top Rank & ESPN roll the dice hoping to put up a respectable number on PPV. Although, Crawford is a wide favorite, Amir brings a few items to the table that could prove difficult for the first chunk of this scheduled 12-round championship bout. Can Crawford prove he’s not only one of the best boxers in the world he can also become a real commodity in the sport? Surely, Al Haymon & company will be tuned in to the fight especially when the revenue totals are tallied up next week.
Crawford’s current predicament is an interesting one to say the least. Many talented boxers, not all that long ago Floyd Mayweather, struggle to find that crossover appeal into the mainstream. After 6 years as a champion at 3-different weight classes, Floyd Mayweather was able to land PPV dancing partners Arturo Gatti and Zab Judah, which ultimately led to the golden ticket Oscar De La Hoya. Guys like Andre Ward, and most recently Vasiliy Lomachenko, all took longer than one would expect to gain any type of notoriety outside of their home regions or main base.
The old saying that ‘skills pays the bills’ is generally a misleading statement. In fact it seems the lesser skilled fighters with fan/friendly styles tend to make a dent quicker than a purist pugilist, if you will. Not until Floyd started to fully embrace the bad guy role and fought Oscar did his popularity explode.
Unable to land a Manny Pacquiao opportunity when they were both under the Top Rank umbrella placed Crawford in a tough spot. It’s already well documented, Crawford resigning with Bob Arum and the bind it puts him in considering the lack of opponents at TR. Terrence’s arch nemesis Errol Spence resides on the other side of the street with the PBC, enabling him to build his profile up all the while adding quality opposition to his resume.
In walks Amir Khan who is technically still advised by Al Haymon, for what it’s worth. Khan is definitely well known within boxing circles. We will find out how much his name resonates to the casual fan. Amir is at similar stage of his career as Adrien Broner, lots of hype not much substance in recent years. Like Broner, Khan is popular having shared the ring with Canelo Alvarez is 2016, and unfortunately like Broner heading into a Pacquiao matchup, Khan may be known for the wrong things when it comes time for fans to spend their hard-earned money.
Beyond the dollars and sense of just how important a successful show is for Crawford in order to force Errol Spence’s hand, Khan does have the potential to trouble Terrence. It’s not an easy task to estimate where exactly is Amir Khan both mentally and physically at this juncture. Khan’s last fight with Samuel Vargas doesn’t exactly strike fear in the heart of Crawford, nor does it scream must-see-TV. Vargas floored Khan and had him hurt a few times throughout the twelve rounds.
Before last September with Vargas, Khan devoured an overmatched Phil Le Greco in the very first round. Nearly two years prior Khan got starched by the hands of Canelo Alvarez, though it should be noted Amir did well in the first 5 frames. A year before Canelo sent the Bolton, England native to hell, Chris Algieri won 4 or 5 rounds and was able to hurt Khan with an overhand right. Besides Le Greco, we have to go all the way back to Devon Alexander in 2013, to remember a near flawless performance.
The easiest way to explain my thoughts on this ESPN PPV main event as a best case scenario is to flashback to 2014 when Crawford faced Yuriorkis Gamboa at lightweight. It’s not a perfect example but Amir Khan is a bigger potentially faster Gamboa. Both men are very flashy and accurate when combination punching or while jabbing to set up pot-shots. Both fighters have a ton of skill on the outside and pack a good amount of pop when they hit the target. And of course both guys are familiar with trips to the canvas, Gamboa making more trips via flash knockdowns, whereas Khan is more susceptible to short naps on mat.
That’s right Amir Khan is the bigger and longer than Gamboa and we all saw how that played out at 135. Gamboa was landing multiple heavy shots on Crawford and able to really hurt the man who was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. Gamboa is more of a puncher then Khan but to be fair 130 or 126 was Gamboa’s most comfortable and effective weight classe. And Gamboa wasn’t the only fighter to have success, at least limited anyway, versus Crawford early in fights. Hank Lundy, Viktor Postol (only 1st round), and Thomas Dulorme were able to land somewhat telling blows.
This straight-shooting podcaster does expect Khan to land his quality jab and pot-shots and maybe even sprinkle in several quick combos within the first 3-5 rounds. There’s a good chance the same thing would happen if a prime Amir fought Mayweather or Pacquiao. However long Khan can be competitive and win rounds the inevitable is coming regardless. Crawford will make a minor adjustment, possibly switching to southpaw, and begin to time Khan’s movement. This will be high-speed chess for as long as it lasts. Could Khan last the whole night? It’s possible but not likely because he doesn’t defend very well or hold properly when hurt. Not to mention he’s got a bit of a glass chin. He may be able to get up but his legs will be wobbly.
Also, on the PPV undercard Shakur Stevenson steps up to face the best opponent of his short professional career, stepping thru the ropes with an experienced 1-loss Christopher Diaz. Stevenson started slow as he purged the amateur habits in route to hopefully becoming a well-versed pro. Also, the human-highlight-machine Teofimo Lopez returns in a stay busy outing as well.
Side Note: An hour before the ESPN PPV kicks off, don’t forget to check out the PBC on FOX main event with Danny Garcia vs. Adrian Granados. Granados has the style and track record in recent fights with Broner and Porter to be a handful. If Granados is using outside skill and activity the way he did with Broner, it could give Danny fits as we know Garcia has trouble cutting off a ring.