To truly flourish, boxing needs superstars–charismatic fighters of exceptional talent. With Floyd Mayweather in retirement and Manny Pacquiao on his downside, there look to be vacancies for that position. Terence Crawford could be exactly the boxer needed to fill the spot.
Crawford does not have Mayweather’s flamboyant showmanship or Pacquiao’s easy smile. He’s a throwback fighter who does his talking in the ring and is more likely to snarl than crack a grin. He fights with a mean streak. He takes his opponent’s pre-fight trash talk to heart and is often still simmering even after knocking them out.
But that makes him exciting. Crawford isn’t out there looking to win on points. He wants to vanquish an opponent, not simply beat him.
At the same time, he is hardly a straight ahead brawler. Crawford’s greatest asset is his ring IQ and ability to adjust mid-fight. He has often fought on relatively even terms against very good opponents over the first few rounds, only to turn the bout into a rout during the second half of the fight.
In July of last year, Crawford defeated Viktor Postol by one-sided decision. That victory made him a rarity in today’s alphabet-soup boxing universe–a true, lineal world champion. It also cemented his status as one of the sport’s biggest rising stars.
Crawford faced once-beaten Felix Diaz Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. Diaz is a rugged, talented contender. In 2008, he won an Olympic gold medal, representing the Dominican Republic. His only professional loss came in a close fight with Lamont Peterson. He has defeated Sammy Vazquez and Adrian Granados, both good fighters.
But Crawford has made it his habit to beat good fighters with stunning ease. Nothing is a sure-thing in boxing, but Crawford should improve to 31-0 in this fight. If he does, the drums will be banging for a showdown with his Top Rank stable mate, Pacquiao, come the fall.