Manufacturing Feuds for Terence Crawford

By Paul Magno on October 4, 2018
Manufacturing Feuds for Terence Crawford
What do you do with a stellar fighter without stellar, career-defining big fight possibilities?

The need to scare up a viable rival for Crawford turned a brief argument from seven months ago into a flashpoint for a blood feud…

When WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford re-upped with Top Rank Promotions last month, signing what manager/trainer Brian McIntyre called “one of the most lucrative deals for an individual fighter in the history of boxing,” there were some serious questions to be answered.

Chief among those questions was how Crawford, now firmly tied to ESPN through their 7-year deal with Top Rank, could find big fights in a welterweight landscape dominated by fighters aligned with Showtime and Fox-based Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) fighters.

With the exception of Manny Pacquiao, who has shown no interest in fighting him, just about every big name at 147 would appear to be out of Crawford’s reach, separated by conflicting business interests. Fighters such as Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, and Danny Garcia—all with the ability and name recognition to provide “Bud” with big-money legacy fights—will not be in his immediate future unless some sort of unlikely building-of-bridges deal can be made between dueling broadcast entities.

So, what do you do with a stellar fighter without stellar, career-defining big fight possibilities?

If you’re Top Rank, you get your creative juices flowing and start manufacturing some “big” rivalries with in-house talent.

That appears to be what’s happening right off the bat with Crawford’s first fight under his new deal.

Scheduled opponent Jose Benavidez Jr. is a good, young, undefeated fighter with world class potential and an interim world title in his recent past. He lost about 18 months of career after being shot multiple times in August of 2016, but is now 2-0 since making his ring return. He’s a quality fighter, but he shouldn’t be a peer of Crawford’s just yet.

Yet, Crawford-Benavidez, set for October 13 in Crawford’s loyal home base of Omaha, Nebraska, is being billed as some sort of grudge match.

The “beef” started in February of this year when Crawford and Benavidez had some angry words at an event that eventually led to a “let’s step outside” challenge from Crawford which was left unanswered. At the time, it was a nothing run-in between two fighters at different levels, unlikely to meet any time soon in the ring.

The need to scare up a viable rival for Crawford, however, turned a brief argument from seven months ago into a flashpoint for a blood feud.

At Thursday’s teleconference to promote the Crawford-Benavidez clash, this manufactured feud was at the forefront of the conversation.

Crawford seemed, at best, mildly annoyed at Benavidez’s challenge, viewing the 26-year-old as any other young unknown wanting to make a name for himself.

“That comes with the territory when you have people who want your spot,” Crawford told media. “They want any opportunity to prove their worthiness, to make a name for themselves. That’s how I took it. He’s trying to piggyback off my name to make himself bigger.”

And when pressed to answer why he actually “fell” for the Benavidez ploy to piggyback off his name, he was fairly “meh” about his answer.

“Oh, why not? Why not?” Crawford said. “Talk is cheap. We’re in the same division, same promoter, it’s an interesting fight. He’s always saying I’m fighting smaller guys. It’s the chance to see what he’s made of.”

Crawford-Benavidez could be an interesting fight, but it is what it is and it isn’t what it isn’t.

At the teleconference, when asked whether he admired any of Benavidez’s boxing qualities, Crawford gave a terse “no” answer.

“Terence, you’d say he has a good mouth, right?” Top Rank president Todd duBoef would chime in.

“Yeah, that’s about it,” Crawford coldly replied.

It’s usually not a real feud if the promoter has to remind one guy why he’s mad at the other.

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  1. Your Name 06:03am, 10/05/2018

    What does “meh” mean?

  2. Roadleego Tuterty 04:25am, 10/05/2018

    Nobody can now expose this overhyped boxer but at some point he must be exposed. I hope he’ll lose to a nobody. He has no options anyway. No Spence, Thurman, Porter, Mayweather, Pacquiao, Vargas, Khan, Brook, Garcia fights in sight.

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