Souring on Terence Crawford

By Paul Magno on January 16, 2019
Souring on Terence Crawford
That’s about it. This is the new reality in boxing. ((Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Crawford could be a legend. Hell, he SHOULD be a legend before all is said and done. But he’s no longer headed in that direction…

Over at my other gig (at, I do a mailbag column every Thursday (humorously?) called “Magno’s Bulging Mail Sack.” For the last six months or so, not a week has passed by without me receiving a variation on a “Terence Crawford hasn’t fought anyone” lament from some angry/frustrated/disappointed fan. And, as someone who has flat-out declared Crawford to be the best all-around fighter in the world, I always find myself in the position of having to defend the man.

In this week’s column, I once again set about defending my placement of Crawford well atop the mythical pound-for-pound list—but it wasn’t exactly the firm defense I’ve made in the past:

“…let’s take this in perspective. Look at any of the fighters regarded as “P4P” fighters right now. How many have beaten opponents they weren’t heavily favored to beat? Vasiliy Lomachenko, Mikey Garcia, Gennady Golovkin—they’ve never beaten anyone they weren’t supposed to beat. Canelo Alvarez came close to a true challenge when he fought Erislandy Lara. Errol Spence beat Kell Brook in a pick ‘em fight at the time. That’s about it. This is the new reality in boxing. Top fighters are protected and/or kept isolated from other top fighters. So, do we elevate our standards or do we judge fighters according to the norms of the time?

Remember, too, that Viktor Postol, Ray Beltran, and Julius Indongo WERE considered “real” challenges for Crawford when he fought them and only became “inferior” opposition after the fact, after he beat each so decisively. In a way, it’s like what happened to Mayweather throughout his career. Legit challenges are disregarded and diminished because he dealt so easily with them…”

Actually, this was a pretty flimsy defense of “my guy,” built more around an “everyone else is slacking, too” excuse than anything actually positive.

Then it hit me why that was. There’s no real way to defend such a great fighter who is simply not meeting an appropriate level of opposition. And the recent announcement that Crawford plans on meeting Amir Khan in April (on PPV!) makes it even harder to defend the man.

Yes, boxing politics stand in the way of many of the fights he should be taking, with almost every other top welterweight—Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia—aligned with Premier Boxing Champions and that company’s deals with Showtime and Fox.

But Crawford had the chance to get those legacy fights when his contract with Top Rank ended last year. And instead of diving into the deep end of the talent pool or, at the very least, remaining a free agent able to go anywhere to fight anyone, he re-upped with Top Rank, who apparently gave him a lucrative (reported 8-figure deal) deal to stay put and be the cornerstone of ESPN’s reinvigorated boxing presence.

It was not a dumb decision for Crawford from a business perspective. More money for lesser opposition is the dream of any sane business-minded boxer. But more money could’ve been earned, long-term, by becoming the Sugar Ray Leonard-type star he’s capable of being after a run through guys like Thurman and Spence.

Instead, fans will be getting someone who COULD have been a Sugar Ray Leonard-type, but, ultimately, opted to take a pile of cash and fight the dreaded “best available opposition” all through his physical prime.

There’s no denying the talent and skill of Terence Crawford and I will still defend my assessment of him being the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. But a welterweight run consisting of Jeff Horn, Jose Benavidez, and Amir Khan is absolutely beneath him—and the sad truth is that, unless something changes in the way his business is conducted, things will only get worse from here because he really HAS fought the best available non-PBC talent at 147.

Crawford could be a legend. Hell, he SHOULD be a legend before all is said and done. But he’s no longer headed in that direction.

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  1. ceylon mooney 07:05am, 01/20/2019

    cant disagree with many of the points the writer makes, but signing with haymon min not have made any difference at all. if crawford signed with haymon hed likely be in the same situation as he is in now, just like spence.

  2. Saul Canelo Magno 03:54pm, 01/18/2019

    If Crawford had left Top Rank he’d end up in the same situation as Spence. Fighting against Uber drivers and midgets.

  3. snowflake 02:10pm, 01/17/2019

    I’m a Crawford fan who’s not thrilled about his potential fight selections either but… the “he should have signed with PBC!” argument doesn’t really hold water when their welters are fighting bums and lightweights instead of, you know, each other

  4. Flipper 08:12am, 01/17/2019

    You are absolutely correct….contrast his career with say Pacman…Pac fought MAB, EM, JMM pretty much in succession….a couple of years later, he did Oscar, Hatton, Cotto, etc…

    Those are legendary opponents….Crawford is fighting safe these days….

  5. Harvey 07:41am, 01/17/2019

    This is similar to what China chin Roy Jones did. Fight the worst or the over the hill for the most money. Once his weak chin was exposed his choices were easy to understand

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