It’s been very well established for years now that Terence “Bud” Crawford is an elite-level, generational talent on the short, short list of present tense pound-for-pound greats. Some are still out there arguing his case as THE best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
It’s really hard to argue with any of the above when you watch him fight. Methodical, tactically-brilliant, versatile, and impeccably skilled, Crawford also possesses the kind of killer instinct and self-confidence that differentiates the very good from the great. The man passes the “greatness” eye test of any observer even half-informed when it comes to boxing.
What the Omaha, Nebraska native doesn’t have, however, is the body of work at welterweight to cement a legacy worthy of his skills and talent.
His first world title win saw him come out of nowhere to dominate and defeat Scotland’s Ricky Burns on Burns’ Scottish home turf to capture the WBO lightweight title in 2014.
Then, Crawford moved up to junior welterweight where he ended up unifying all four world titles and dominating fighters such as Viktor Postol, Juliu Indongo, Hank Lundy, Thomas Dulorme, and John Molina Jr. along the way.
In his first fight at welterweight in 2018, he captured the WBO title against Australia’s Jeff Horn, who was coming off an upset victory over Manny Pacquiao less than a year earlier.
Since then, however, Crawford’s opposition has hovered around, closer to the “good” mark than the “great” mark. While Jose Benavidez Jr., Amir Khan, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, and Kell Brook make up a solid level of opposition, “Bud” hasn’t faced any of the true top dogs at 147– and his reputation has suffered for it.
Mind you, this patch of spinning his wheels at welterweight is not entirely Crawford’s fault. Most of the division’s top talent works under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner, whose exclusive TV deals with FOX and Showtime clash with Crawford’s promotional deal with Top Rank and exclusivity to ESPN. While Crawford re-upped with Top Rank/ESPN a couple years back when he could’ve pursued the big PBC fights as a free agent, it’s still true that he’s been walled off from the biggest and the best welters.
The 34-year-old has been clamoring for big, legacy-defining fights for years already, since he was unifying belts at 140. He’s been clamoring for these kinds of fights since he was a promotional stablemate of Manny Pacquiao, itching for a passing of the torch bout against the Filipino icon.
“I’ll take Pacquiao because I always wanted to fight him,” Crawford said on ESPN’s First Take in 2019 when asked whether he’d rather fight Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. “I felt that he ran [from me]…He fought Algieri…Tim Bradley…when he had the opportunity to fight me and he didn’t want to fight me.”
The Pacquiao fight never happened and a bout with his next big-fight target, Errol Spence, also never happened.
So, now, Crawford is taking the back door to welterweight legacy affirmation. If he can’t get the biggest dogs just yet, he’s going to batter and beat a legit top 5 guy who’s given pretty much all the biggest dogs a hell of a tough time.
On November 20, Crawford is set to meet Shawn Porter in what many see as his toughest stylistic matchup to date.
The always-tenacious Porter holds victories over recent Pacquiao conqueror Yordenis Ugas, as well as Paulie Malignaggi, Andre Berto, and Danny Garcia. He’s also fought Errol Spence and Keith Thurman– pushing both to the absolute limits in close decision losses.
If Crawford can beat Porter in a clear, decisive manner– and that is absolutely no “gimme” against a legit main stage battler like Porter– he instantly makes his case as someone who has belonged at the very top all along. And that, right there, is just short leap from forcing the other top dogs’ hands when it comes to meeting him in the ring.