Boxing

Terence Crawford: Above it All, Below it All

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For the longest time, the story on Terence Crawford centered around his supreme ability in the ring and his supreme inability to get a major showcase bout against the elite class of the welterweight division.

Right now, however, Crawford’s story centers around his apparent lack of interest in pursuing those fights anymore.

On Saturday, in attendance at stablemate Maurice Hooker’s bout against Vergil Ortiz Jr. in Fort Worth, Texas, Crawford was asked about the long-awaited clash with fellow elite welter, Errol Spence.

“Nah, never. That fight never gonna happen. It’s over with.,” he told Fight Hub TV.

And when asked about the fast-rising, 22-year-old welterweight contender Ortiz, who stopped Hooker in seven rounds, he was equally as dismissive.

“He really don’t want me. That’s just the thing to do– call for the fighters that’s at the top. But he’s doing his thing, doing what he’s supposed to do and I wish him nothing but the best.”

The WBO 147 lb. Champ from Omaha, Nebraska said pretty much the same thing to the DAZN reporter who asked him about Spence and Ortiz during the televised card.

Then there’s Crawford’s flat-lining interest in a Shawn Porter clash, which he’s reportedly been ice cold on since the reports first started circulating that Porter had gotten the green light from his people to pursue the bout.

Although he bit a little at the dangling Porter carrot recently, he’s flat-out nixed the pairing as recently as last July. Porter, himself, has quoted Crawford as saying “He looked at me and said, ‘I don’t care about fighting nobody. I don’t care who it is….but, right now, I don’t think it’s gonna be me and you.”

So, what’s up then? A Spence fight isn’t going to happen. A Porter fight isn’t going to happen. An Ortiz fight isn’t going to happen. And the door to all of these fights is being slammed by the same guy who so desperately needs big, legacy-defining battles and who has been publicly lamenting over his inability to get them.

Crawford is clearly frustrated by the politics of boxing business. He remains bound to his promotional contract with Top Rank and, therefore, separated from the other top welterweights who fight under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner. He feels he is on equal (or superior) footing when it comes to the other major players in the division and is unwilling to take a “B-side” share of the purse or have to cede “home field” advantage to an opponent.

Unfortunately, boxing IS a business and he needs the PBC welters more than the PBC welters need him. Everyone else could easily just fight amongst themselves and make good money doing so. They don’t have to take the risk of fighting someone as dangerous as Crawford and they certainly don’t need to jump at that risk. If someone is going to take Crawford on, they’re going to have to get paid and get some degree of contractual edge. And, consequently, Crawford is going to need to make some concessions.

The former four-belt unified junior welterweight champ and lightweight titlist will get the “A-side” treatment when/if he beats a big name or two. It’s not fair from a competitive sporting standpoint– Crawford is arguably better than most everyone at 147, with the exception of Spence, who is a 50-50, pick ‘em opponent– but business is not always fair.

And if Crawford is acting aloof because he’s bought into the possibility of getting a big-money Manny Pacquiao clash and its accompanying eight-figure payday, he’d be wise not to hold his breath. Promoter Bob Arum has a PhD in sleight of hand and boxing trickery. Shadowy money men from the Middle East eager to bankroll blockbusters with crazy money are always “appearing” to the aged promoter, but have yet to actually bankroll a fight of his.

At any rate, Crawford would be best served to humble himself down a bit in order to get the fights he needs. His contract with Top Rank is reportedly ending in October, so he may just be biding his time until he can get full independence. But taking his ball and going home now, declaring himself above it all, is not something that should even be rolling through his mind.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com