He's one of the rare fighters in boxing today who beautifully blends the trinity of being able to box, hit with power and being able to punch through his opponents and take them out every time he fights.
No, I'm not speaking of Roman Gonzalez, who is without a doubt the best offensive fighter in boxing, Gennady Golovkin or Sergey Kovalev, although I could be.
The fighter I'm referencing is WBO super lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford 27-0 (19).
This past weekend Crawford stopped Dierry Jean 29-2 (20) in the 10th round to retain his title and become the front-runner to meet Manny Pacquiao 57-6-2 (38) in perhaps his final career bout on April 9th of next year.
And make no mistake about it, what Crawford lacks in experience going against Pacquiao is greatly counter- balanced by his skill-set and ability to box and punch on the inside and from long range. In addition to that, Crawford is a very hard and tough guy physically and mentally and would not fold under Pacquiao's unconventional assault. Then again, based on Manny going 3-3 in his last six bouts, it's up for debate how much he has left physically, and that's excluding rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder after his last bout with Floyd Mayweather this past May.
Against Jean, Crawford basically jogged to an overwhelming victory in which he displayed his full repertoire of punches and fighting stances. So much so, that he even reiterated after the fight that he did whatever he wanted to on call for the entire bout.
Crawford had Jean down three times during the bout in the first, ninth and 10th rounds and appeared as if he enjoyed punishing him during the bout due to the way Jean questioned Crawford's power before the fight. It was no contest and other than a few seemingly big shots that caught Crawford when he was distracted by what he was intent on doing, the outcome was never in doubt. So you can say with impunity that if Crawford was auditioning to make his case why he should fight Pacquiao next instead of Amir Khan or Timothy Bradley (regardless what happens on November 7th when Bradley fights Brandon Rios) mission accomplished.
I'm fairly certain most boxing fans would rather see Pacquiao touch gloves with Crawford next than either Khan, who hasn't tool one to beat even a declining Manny with, or Bradley, who Pacquiao virtually man-handled during their rematch a year and a half ago. Other than fighting Mayweather in a rematch, Crawford against Pacquiao would be the most compelling fight out there for Manny.
The question is – does fighting Crawford make sense on Pacquiao's behalf?
For argument sake, let us assume that April 9, 2016 will be the last time we'll ever see Manny Pacquiao fight. Under that premise, Bob Arum would probably love to make Pacquiao-Crawford because if Terence beat Pacquiao, something I wouldn't consider an upset, he'd be one of the top draws in the sport and everybody would know who he is….which isn't the case right now. Having a win over Pacquiao for the 28 year old Crawford would be the ideal launchpad for him to become Arum's new money fighter.
However, does fighting Crawford make sense for Pacquiao, and if so, at what weight?
Would Manny want to drop down and go for Crawford's WBO super-lightweight title or would he want to face him at 147? And does Manny really want to engage in a tough fight with a young, strong and brimming with confidence young lion who deserves to be included among boxing's top five pound-for-pound combatants? A Pacquiao vs. Crawford match-up would be a very compelling clash on many fronts, and Crawford has certainly earned the opportunity to be the B-side of such a marquee event, although he'd have no negotiating power in regards to the terms and conditions of a proposed bout between them.
Manny is clearly on the decline and is no longer the non-stop punching supernova who took apart Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in 2009. Then again on the other hand, as good as Crawford has looked, he surely hasn't had anybody in front of him who is on the level of an eroded Pacquiao.
For boxing fans, Pacquiao-Crawford would be a real treat and thrill because there's a solid case to be made as to why each one could be viewed as the favorite. It represents old versus new and perhaps a passing of the torch. However, there is a genuine risk associated with it that is detrimental to Crawford and Arum, not that we really care about any risk incurred by a promoter. That said, if Pacquiao won, Arum would've shot himself in the foot and injured his brightest rising star. As for Crawford, who no doubt wants to be viewed as being from the same vein as Floyd Mayweather as an upper-tier champion and fighter , he cannot accomplish that if he loses at 28 to a fighter a 38 year old whom Mayweather completely out-boxed in his last fight.
After Crawford took care of Dierry Jean this past Saturday night, Arum said, “Marquez is no longer under consideration. Crawford and Khan are, and Bradley will be if he defeats Brandon Rios on Nov. 7 in Las Vegas. It would be one hell of a fight,” Arum said of a Pacquiao-Crawford match. “Now, we have to wait for Manny Pacquiao to look at the tape. We also have to wait for the results of Nov. 7 and then we'll regroup.”
If I'm Bob Arum, I would push to make Pacquiao-Crawford. It would be an easy sell, in light of the fact that he sold the public PPV bouts featuring Pacquiao versus Chris Algieri and Brandon Rios, two fighters that if Crawford fought them on the same night one after the other, he wouldn't lose a single round against them.
If I'm Terence Crawford I would do everything in my power to get Pacquiao in the ring. The timing is perfect for him, being that Pacquiao still is the second biggest star fighter in boxing, and, Manny isn't the terror he once was physically or mentally. It's blatantly obvious that Manny isn't into fighting like he once was and that makes him more civilized and easier to beat.
Lastly, if I'm Manny Pacquiao, I want to go out with a big splash and erase the stench of the Mayweather fight that tags along with me wherever I go. In the eyes of 95% of sophisticated boxing fans Pacquiao beat Bradley both times they fought, so there's only downside in fighting him a third time. As for Amir Khan, he's lost three times and was stopped in two of those defeats. So there's no monumental gain in becoming the fourth fighter to beat Khan in his career swan song bout, and what if he lost?
Terence Crawford is inexperienced at the world class level compared to Mayweather, but he's a physical beast who can do everything in the ring at a high level. He's young and undefeated and appears to be more impressive with each fight. If Pacquiao handed him his first career defeat, it would go a long way in erasing the sourness of the Mayweather fight. A definitive win over Crawford affords Pacquiao the chance to walk away from boxing in a positive light. Beating an up and coming pound-for-pound star at age 37 is a great way to leave the sport he gave so much to. That, along with the notion that he believes he beat Mayweather in the ring when they fought, ain't a bad way to shut it down once and for all.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com