By Marc Livitz: In August of 2017, Terence "Bud" Crawford reached a personal as well as historical goal when he topped Julius Indongo by way of a third round stoppage to not only win the IBF and WBA super lightweight championships, but to unify the division as well.
By Marc Livitz: In August of 2017, Terence "Bud" Crawford reached a personal as well as historical goal when he topped Julius Indongo by way of a third round stoppage to not only win the IBF and WBA super lightweight championships, but to unify the division as well. With all four sanctioned titles in hand, he decided to vacate the division and move up to welterweight in 2018 and last June, his first campaign at 147 pounds was a success. He wrested the WBO world welterweight title from Jeff Horn by way of a ninth round stoppage in Las Vegas and then moved on to knock out Jose Benavidez in the twelfth round last October in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
Since capturing the WBO world lightweight title with a unanimous decision win over Ricky Burns in March of 2014, Crawford has catapulted himself into the discussion of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter discussion. His first defense of the title came in late June of that year against Yuriorkis Gamboa, who at the time was considered among the sport’s top up and coming talents. The bout wasn’t much of a contest, as evidenced by Terence’s ninth round knockout win. The 31 year old Omaha native has in recent times been hotly linked with a showdown against current IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence, Jr., but for now he must focus on the task at hand, which will come on Saturday, April 20 at ’The World’s Most Famous Arena’, Madison Square Garden in Manhatttan in the form of former lightweight champion Amir Khan.
For well over a decade, Bolton, Lancashire, U.K. native Khan has been one of the sport’s larger and constant talents with wins over such names as Marco Antonio Barrera, Andriy Kotelnik. Paul Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri. In the minds of many fans however, his efforts against Marcos Maidana in December of 2010 may have indeed been his finest hour. The clash for Khan’s WBA light welterweight title included Maidana rising from the canvas after being tagged with a perfectly placed shot to his liver in the first round as well as moment after moment of Khan weathering the onslaught of Maidana’s vicious attack afterwards. Amir won by a narrow unanimous decision as the contest was awarded ’Fight of the Year’ honors from the Boxing Writers Association of America. He’s experienced the up’s and down’s endured by many in the boxing game and although his split decision loss to Lamont Peterson one year later was extremely controversial for a variety of reasons, his fourth round knockout defeat at the hands of Danny Garcia seven months later surely was not.
The Englishman was able to rattle off five consecutive victories until he found that the decision to jump up two classes to middleweight had its drawbacks. The event which served as boxing’s curtain raiser for the newly finished T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in May of 2016 ended up being a hard lesson in reality for "King" Khan. Although he had boxed nicely for the majority of six rounds against WBC middleweight kingpin Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, he was at the receiving end of a crushing right hand which sent him to the canvas and warranted no ten count from referee Kenny Bayless. Khan took two years off and returned last April. He most recently topped Samuel Vargas by lackluster unanimous decision in Birmingham, England last September. In less than a month’s time, he’ll find Terence Crawford at the ring’s opposite end, ready and tuned to give him another fight of his life. The contest for Crawford’s WBO world welterweight title will take place on Saturday, April 20 at Madison Square Garden and will air in the United States on the initial outing of ESPN pay per view. On Tuesday afternoon, both Khan and Crawford as well as Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum participated in an international media conference call to discuss their upcoming showdown.
Selected Highlights Listed Below
Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank Promotions: "We’re getting close to April 20th and the major fight from Madison Square Garden between welterweight champion, Terence Crawford and the pride of England, Amir Khan."
Opening statements from Amir Khan: "Training has gone well . The last two fights were with (trainer) Joe Goosen and now I’m with Virgil Hunter. Since we joined, everything has gone really well. We’re sparring and training hard. We’ll be in great condition. Terence is a great fighter and up there with the best fighters in the world, pound for pound. I’m not taking this fight lightly and not just to be a number. I’m taking this fight to win with my boxing skills. This is where I like to be. I perform at my best when I’m the underdog and when I can prove everybody wrong."
"I’ve always wanted to be up there in the pound for pound rankings. I feel strong physically and mentally and I am prepared for this fight. I could have taken another fight in the U.K. against Kell Brook but I wanted to go up against the best. This will be good for recognition. I’m going to be more than ready."
Opening statements from Terence Crawford: "I appreciate all the support and I’m looking forward to April 20th at ’MSG’."
Khan on accepting the Crawford bout: "I love fighting in the States. I wanted to come back here for a big fight. This was offered to me and it was a big one, a pay per view fight. I made sure to take the fight because I know I can win it. My team may not have agreed with me, but this is the fight I wanted. Terence is a great fighter and he comes forward. I’m basically the bigger guy and I’ve been in the 147 pound division longer."
"I wasn’t myself in my last fight. People may feel that after the Vargas bout that I’m going to be the same bum, but that was just not me. It’s hard to motivate yourself against a guy that you’re supposed to beat. It’s as if you’re just supposed to show up."
Bob Arum on Khan: "What’s the best fight we could do? I’ve always been an ’Amir’ fan. I remembered when Amir joined Mannny Pacquiao in his camp back in the day and he was a tremendous sparring partner. I know a bit about boxing. I’m not a matchmaker but I’ve been in the sport for over 50 years. Amir Khan against Terence Crawford is a huge fight. This is the first pay per view fight with ESPN. I really believe that the fight will be tremendously interesting, which is why we made it. That is the truth."
Arum’s thoughts on the bout on pay TV: The matchup is what warrants a pay per view. You cannot rely on network to constantly to come up with big money for rights’ fees. You have to ask the public to help support the fight. Sometimes they say, "no". We should stop playing the game of whether or not a fight is pay per view. In this case, it’s not affordable on network TV when they can’t support the rights. The fighters have to be compensated and the rest is just noise."
Crawford’s thoughts on Khan: "I never really looked at a fight with him ever happening. He’s always been the bigger guy and in a higher weight class. I thought he’d be at 154 but we’re here now and I’m excited to share the ring with him. He’s a top welterweight and a big name in boxing, so why not give him a shot at the title? He’s never lost in the welterweight division. He’s real fast and crafty, so this is going to be a tough fight."
On facing Errol Spence, Jr.: "I’m not thinking about that one. I’m never going to be a complacent fighter because I know of the trouble I can have if I overlook a fighter like Amir Khan. It’s a mistake made by some fighters to think they have the fight in the bag when it hasn’t even happened yet. Of course it can be made and that’s the biggest fight in the welterweight division. There’s a lot of big fights out there for me. There’s Errol Spence, Kell Brook and others. After this fight, then I can talk about that."
Khan’s thoughts on the same: "If he keeps talking about fighting Spence and overlooking me, then he’s in for a big shock. I’m unbeaten as a welterweight fighter and when I moved up, then I may have put on too much. Even in the fight with Canelo, I think I was in it until I got caught."
Terence’s thoughts on fight night: "Khan might be fast and move well, but I’m a great boxer myself. I’m not a slow fighter and I believe in my skills and not just my punching power."