Max Warren writes about the depth of the junior welterweights-even without Terence Crawford. What if Crawford had stayed in the division?
If Had Only Terence Crawford Stuck Around At 140
The junior welterweight division is hot, as the “Big Three” (Jose Ramirez, Josh Taylor, and Regis Prograis) vie for supremacy at 140.
It’s as if Terence Crawford fought in the calm before the eventual storm that erupted at 140. Since Crawford left the division last year, there have been many competitive match-ups with quality fighters. This development has been going on for only a year, and it took Crawford several years before he had the chance to unify all the belts.
Once the World Boxing Super Series Finale, featuring Prograis and Taylor, ends on October 5th, the winner can face Ramirez for all four belts at 140. Ramirez, Taylor, and Prograis would make for the best fights and opponents of Crawford’s career. Crawford’s place at or near the top of the pound-for-pound list is primarily due to him passing the eye-test. As many know, pound-for-pound consideration is largely determined not only by the fighters themselves, but who they have fought as well. If Crawford was currently at 140 and could clean out the current cast of top fighters, his place at the top of the pound-for-pound list would be definitive.
Crawford’s most notable wins at 140 were against Viktor Postol and Julius Indongo. He earned a unanimous decision victory against Postol, and knocked out Indongo in the third round en route to collecting all four belts that night. The current top three junior welterweights would all be favored to defeat the two men Crawford beat. Also, Prograis knocked out Indongo quicker and in arguably more impressive fashion than “Bud,” stopping Indongo in the second round last year.
Crawford vs. Prograis is an absolute dream-fight at junior welterweight. Both men are athletic, tricky, and possess an undeniable mean streak. The most admirable quality in both is that they could coast to a unanimous decision victory any time they want, but they choose to go for the knockout. Although Crawford will never end up facing any of “The Big Three” at 140, there is a strong possibility he faces some of them later down the road at welterweight.
It’s likely that Crawford will face Top Rank stablemate Jose Ramirez at 147. Ramirez has proved to be popular, and puts on exciting fights. The bout is easy to make, and it could be the first Crawford fight at welterweight that fans would be genuinely excited to watch. Ramirez likes to come forward and attack cleverly, while Crawford is a talented counter-puncher. Ramirez sets traps, and it will be interesting to assess how well Crawford avoids getting hit by power punches that are difficult to anticipate.
Josh Taylor is known for his speed and mastery at controlling range. Of the “Big Three,” Taylor is the fastest; but when he is on the inside, he appears uncomfortable. Crawford can fight well at any pace and range. Stylistically, Taylor would have difficulty adjusting to Crawford’s approach. “Bud’s” ability to quickly attack and then settle down and counter would make it troublesome for Taylor to get into an offensive rhythm.
At his best, Taylor is comfortable at range, and his punches flow. Crawford wouldn’t allow for that to happen. Even though Taylor might be the most talented among the top three at junior welterweight, his strengths do not mesh well with Crawford’s adaptability.
Prograis is a strong and durable fighter, and will surely carry his strength up to welterweight. Even though Crawford’ in a higher weight division, he hasn’t faced an opponent who can man-handle in clinches quite like Prograis. Crawford and Prograis focus well on their objective when in the ring, and neither man has shown any signs of evident fatigue in a fight. Two well-conditioned fighters with a mean streak makes for an incredible night of action.
Whenever Crawford and Prograis are interviewed, they just get to the point. They are adamant about wanting to face the best fighters, and desire to prove their merit. They also truly mean what comes out of their mouths. This fight needs to happen.
To Crawford’s credit, he accomplished all that was in front of him at 140. It’s unfortunate that he isn’t campaigning there during such an exciting time. Yet, the best fights that could have been there for him if he was still at 140 are still potential match-ups at welterweight. Although many fans are upset about Crawford lacking credible dance partners right now, the studs at 140 are viable competition for “Bud.”
The super-fight between Crawford and Errol Spence won’t happen any time soon, but there isn’t as great a political obstacle in making a fight with either Prograis, Ramirez, or Taylor. There is no doubt that Crawford faces one of them before getting the opportunity to challenge Spence.