Is a Pacquiao vs. Crawford showdown on the horizon?
By Max Warren
According to Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum, Team Pacquiao has reached out about the prospect of fighting Terence “Bud” Crawford (36-0, 27KOs).
When Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs) and Crawford were both signed with Top Rank for many years, a fight between them could have easily been made if both parties had the slightest interest in making an eventual matchup. Nobody could have ever imagined that Pacquiao would eventually sign with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) and be advised by Al Haymon, Floyd Mayweather’s long-time manager and career advisor. But, the unimaginable is now a reality.
Historically, Top Rank and PBC rarely do business with each other, although the heavyweight mega-bout between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury took place in February. Two networks, FOX and ESPN, came together for a joint pay-per-view and the two promotional companies worked out a deal in a cordial manner. This business venture is an encouraging sign that the two parties will continue to enable fights like this to happen for many years to come.
The main fight fans have clamored for over the past few years is Terence Crawford vs. Errol “The Truth” Spence (26-0, 21KOs). If Crawford defeats Pacquiao, Crawford’s popularity will increase and make a bout against Spence more notable. Interestingly, Arum has discussed having Pacquiao vs. Crawford in Bahrain. He also mentioned that Bahrain could be the site for many boxing events later down the road.
Before Pacquiao defeated Keith Thurman (29-1, 22KOs) in July, 2019, many in the boxing public did not think that Pacquiao vs. Crawford would be a quality matchup. Heading into last year, Pacquiao was considered over-the-hill and it wasn’t certain whether he could defeat the very best welterweights in the world. After the win over Thurman, Pacquao is a legitimate candidate to defeat any welterweight. Few would now object to Pacquiao facing either Crawford or Spence.
Now, it’s time to predict a possible Pacquiao vs. Crawford clash. Crawford will be the favorite, but it’s difficult to imagine him thoroughly dominating the 8-division champion. Pacquiao is impossible to prepare for, and it takes time to settle in and get used to the unique angles that the “Pac-Man” presents.
It’s hard to gauge Crawford’s chin, since he hasn’t yet faced a devastating puncher at 147. In his last fight, Pacquiao knocked Thurman down in the 1st, and hurt him with a body shot in the 10th. The Senator from the Phillipine’s power is still apparent, and he will be the hardest puncher that Crawford has ever faced.
Crawford was arguably knocked down in his last fight versus Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17KOs). In the 3rd, Kavaliauskus landed a strong counter right hook that had Crawford squirming and attempting to hold onto Kavaliauskas. Kavaliauskas prevented Crawford from holding on, and Crawford fell to the canvas.
The referee ruled it a slip, but it was a probable knockdown. Crawford recovered and stopped Kavaliauskas in the 9th after scoring a series of knockdowns. Despite the thrilling victory, the bout demonstrated that Crawford can be hurt and suffer from defensive lapses.
Pacquiao vs. Crawford will most likely go the distance. Both men are undeniably skilled, and the fight will be competitive throughout. Crawford is a slow starter, tending to allow opponents to get the better of the action during the opening two rounds. He will also have a hard time getting accustomed to Pacquiao’s awkwardness and punching angles.Pacquiao will land his lead straight left, and Crawford will have to adjust in order to defend against the sneaky lead lefts.
By the middle rounds, Crawford will be more aggressive in order to narrow the gap. He’ll employ a steady jab and back Pacquiao to the ropes often. Pacquiao isn’t a natural counter puncher, and puts his high guard up and retreats when his opponent is on the offensive.
Crawford will try to take advantage of this tendency. The “Pac-Man” will still have moments where he sneaks in a nice one-two combination, but he may start to noticeably tire. Against Thurman, Pacquiao was not nearly as energetic in the mid-to-later rounds. Crawford’s conditioning will play in his favor.
In the closing rounds, Pacquiao will struggle to surprise Crawford, as “Bud” will have grown accustomed to Pacquiao’s offense. Crawford is an instinctual fighter, and counters effectively once he gets used to his opponent. He will begin to back up, and play the role of the counter puncher. He’ll choose to allow Pacquiao to chase him around the ring and have the “Pac-Man” leave himself susceptible to getting countered.
At the end of the fight, the scorecards will be in Crawford’s favor by a comfortable margin. The outcome will likely lead Pacquiao to retire after passing the mythical torch to Crawford.
A Crawford victory over Pacquiao is going to increase the likelihood of a welterweight super-fight between Crawford and Spence. Top Rank would have already worked with PBC to make Crawford vs. Pacquiao, so Crawford vs. Spence wouldn’t be difficult to make.
Even though a Crawford win against Pacquiao might frustrate Spence, it’ll increase the money pot between Spence and “Bud.” Pacquiao can play a useful role in building up Crawford vs. Spence, but the Senator’s ability to beat Crawford should still not be counted out.