Is "Bud" Crawford the best pound-for-pound fighter?
By Bill Tibbs
Omaha, Nebraska’s one-man franchise, Terence “Bud” Crawford, who in my opinion has to be in the conversation as the best fighter in boxing, picked up another title defense in his impressive welterweight run. Crawford scored an exciting ninth-round TKO victory over Egidijus Kavaliauskas in defense of his WBO world welterweight title last month at Madison Square Garden in New York. With the win, he moved his unblemished ledger to 36-0 (27 KO’s).
The fight had a few early fireworks before Crawford wore down the previously undefeated Lithuanian and stopped him. Kavaliauskas, a thunderous puncher at welterweight, took his first loss and moved to 21-1-1, (17 KO’s).
Before the fight some were saying Crawford was getting a soft touch in WBO mandatory challenger Kavaliauskas. However, Crawford and his team knew different with Bud saying before the bout, “This guy (Kavaliauskas) is a tough guy and I’m not taking him lightly”. And, it is a good thing he didn’t because the challenger brought his A-game and came to win. Kavialauskus clearly didn’t just show up looking to say he fought for the title; he was looking to leave the New York with it.
Crawford has been so impressive in his championship run that he has worked himself into a position where if anyone so much as lands a hard punch on him people are starting to question his performance that night (see: Floyd Mayweather Jr.). The truth is that if any fighter has worked his way to be challenging for a world title then they are a very good fighter. Period. Last I recalled, bad or average fighters seldom earn title shots. In short, there was a reason that Kavialauskus was being awarded a shot at Crawford’s title. Crawford did catch a couple of shots early in the fight, took them well, and then dictated the action as he pressed the challenger before stopping him. At the level Crawford fights at, with everyone who fights him bringing their absolute best possible game, it is near impossible to not get hit a few times in the course of a fight. The key is how do you respond - Crawford responded like a champion.
While names like Vasyl Lomachenko and Saul Alvarez are often brought up as the best fighters in the game, Crawford, while highly respected, had usually taken a back seat to them in P4P conversations in the past. But, not anymore! Bud has quietly gone about his business, taking out anyone in his path leading up to winning numerous world titles including the WBO lightweight, WBO/WBC/IBF and WBA super lightweight and WBO welterweight titles.
Crawford, outside of a close circle of family and friends, while friendly, presents as a quiet and somewhat shy person away from the ring. However, put him in a boxing ring and his fists do a lot of talking and he dares anyone to try to shut him up.
After December’s title defense, with Crawford showing he can take a (hard) shot, box, slug, is a master at distance and can close the show like no other when that opportunity arises, people are finally starting to realize this man is clearly the best welterweight in boxing.
And, Crawford continues to make a strong case to prove that he may just be the best fighter in the game.
After the fight, the questions immediately arose as to who is next? Crawford replied that he, “didn’t need to call anyone out”, and that everybody knows that he simply wants to, “fight the best fighters out there”. For him that would bring up names like fellow Top Rank fighter Manny Pacquiao, free agent Shawn Porter, PBC fighters Danny Garcia and Errol Spence or former champion Keith Thurman. Any one of those fights are big events, with huge fan interest, and if Bud had his way they are fights that would be made a soon as possible.
Despite huge success in boxing, Crawford remains the same humble warrior that quietly emerged out of Omaha to upset spoiler Breidis Prescott in 2013. A couple of fights later, Crawford sauntered into WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns’ backyard in Glasgow Scotland to take his world title. Since that fight, Crawford has picked up 5 more world title belts in his 13 world title wins. Now a 3-weight world champion, Crawford continues to go about his business - and his business is beating whomever is put in front of him.
Crawford’s not picky, he just wants to fight the very best out there and prove he is indeed the best welterweight, if not the best P4P fighter, in all of boxing.
"I’ll fight anybody”, said Crawford, “I’ve been saying that for I don’t know how long, I’m not ducking anyone”.
147-pound options at a glance.
Terence Crawford has made it clear that he wants to fight the very best at 147. So, whenever these other champions want to step up, Bud is ready to go.
-Errol Spence - IBF/WBC champ Spence is recovering from an auto accident and that fight, if it happens, it at the end of 2020 assuming Spence looks good in his comeback fight whenever that is. Sounds like Danny Garcia or Manny Pacquiao are the guys he is looking at.
-Shawn Porter - Looked good and gained some career momentum with Spence loss. Word is Crawford and Porter have to agree to the fight but they might be seeing what other options are out there. A good fight.
-Keith Thurman - Former WBA champ lost to Manny Pacquiao last year and will be looking to get into a title fight before long but I could see him wanting a rematch with Pac-Man before a Crawford fight. But, he’d take a shot at Bud if he could get it I’d assume.
-Manny Pacquiao - Boxing’s ageless, energizer bunny. Took Keith Thurman’s title at age 40 and turned back the clock, again, and looked great doing it. BTW- started off the year by beating up Adrien Broner. Top Rank’s Carl Moretti recently said (sarcastically, but truthfully), “you’d have trouble getting Pacquiao and Crawford into the same country let alone the same ring”. I assume they (TR) feel there is no way Manny would fight Bud. Manny would fight him, as he’d fight anyone, but with his age and fight-by-fight basis he now operates on, Manny’s team know a fight with Crawford is not a good option for them.
Danny Garcia - Shouldn’t have any problems with Ivan Redkach at the end of this month and then who knows what is next? Might want a shot at Shawn Porter if they both have nothing else on but they want to fight for titles so maybe Danny will give BoMac a call and inquire about a bout with Bud?