It is always a thrill, as well as a surprise, to watch the best in the world perform.
Terence Crawford is boxing’s best, a truly great fighter with a longer list of skills and talents than Giannis Antetokounmpo. Crawford swept the field at welterweight, as he did at lightweight and lightweight.
He is a slam dunk ahead of the Hall of Famer who will be elected on the first day.
But he’s 35 years old, and although he’s the world champion in three weight classes and the definitive super lightweight champion, he’s still a truly outstanding fighter who’s anywhere near his prime.
He went on to get the best fight he could get, perhaps the best fight in boxing that could happen, and yes, instead of fighting one champion and pound-for-pound star Errol Spence Jr. for a certain title in the great stadium Las. Vegas is in a slightly smaller race in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, where he will defend his WBO welterweight title against the good but not great David Avanesyan on Saturday.
Before we go any further, let us, as President Richard M. Nixon once said, make one thing abundantly clear: The blame for the failure of the Crawford-Spence fight rests equally on the shoulders of Crawford and Spence. One is not more at fault than the other; every man is a participant in this failure.
The best fighters Crawford has fought to this point are past prime Shawn Porter, well past prime Yuriorkis Gamboa, solid but not great Viktor Postol and past prime Amir Khan. They are good fighters, all of them, but until their prime, there is no great way Crawford, it was the way Mayweather was, it was the way Sugar Ray Leonard was.
Leonard won the gold medal at the 20th Olympics in Montreal in 1976. By 23, Hall of Famer Wilfred Benitez had won his first future. At 24, he added another one again with Roberto Duran, and at 25, he won his third with a come-from-behind KO victory over Thomas Hearns.
If Crawford had grown up in an age where the likes of Leonard, Duran, Hearns and Benitez, let alone Pipino Cuevas, Milton McCrory and Marlon Starling had grown up, there would be no doubt about his greatness.
But as Avanesyan prepares to fight on Saturday on a pay-per-view entity produced by BLK Prime, one of his goals is to prove himself to the fans.
“My goal is to remind the world that I’m the best fighter on the planet, so everyone needs to be in” [Saturday] on this new platform BLK Primus PPV,” he said. “We’re not just fighting to be the best, but to give fighters a fair and equal treatment in the moving business.”
Now let’s be honest here: Crawford’s second opinion on that site is utter BS. Crawford doesn’t care what other people are fighting for — and neither should he — any more than he cares what the announcers, ticket sellers and security personnel at CHI Health Center earn per hour for working to fight.
Crawford has been handsomely gifted throughout his career, although he has not been a ticket seller anywhere but Omaha, where the prices are much lower, and he has not been a pay-per-view seller. He complained that it was possible to sell a pay-per-view fight on ESPN+, and denied that it was impossible to sell a fight on the app. But who doesn’t know that ESPN offers a huge commercial break as well as many fighters, both in boxing and in the UFC, who have sold much more pay-per-views than they ever could.
And Canelo Alvarez fought “on the app” at DAZN and recognized the biggest PPV star in the game at the moment.
It would be an undisputed success on Saturday if his paycheck made as much as 50,000 sales. It would be great if he did, because it would be good for fun. You know what they say about a tidal wave lifting all boats.
That’s one reason Crawford didn’t sell, and there’s nothing to contend with with his app or talent. It is the character of the adversaries.
Mayweather was not a great promoter early in the race. But when he fought Oscar De La Hoya, the biggest and biggest name in the drag game at the time he met in 2007, he sold over 2 million units and became a household name. He then turned into the biggest drag in boxing history.
Leonard had four fights against three boxers who are going to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame by the time he was 25. Alvarez fought Mayweather when he was 23. He then fought Miguel Cotto when he was 25 and Gennadiy Golovkin only two. months before the 27th
Alvarez was in big fights against elite opponents with recognizable names and sold out.
Simple, isn’t it?
Avanesyan is not a bum, although he is not a significant threat of any kind. There is no reason why Crawford is a -1400 favorite at BetMGM.
It’s time for Crawford to see all the public fights he wants to give, which will increase his stature. There’s no reason he can’t go back to the negotiating table with Spence and work out a deal for the next fight. On the cusp of stardom and Virgil Ortiz Jr. There are young heavyweights like Jaron Ennis who is fighting big at some point. Crawford also talked about moving up to super welterweight and challenging undisputed champion Jermell Charlo.
I’m sure these fights will change Crawford’s sense of dismay. He is a great genius who is still driven by the genius of anyone remotely close to him.
When, or if, he finally does, he will suddenly start selling all the tickets and PPVs.
Until, well, great now, great weekend.