A July 26 report by Steve Kim on Boxingscene.com is calling into question what many fans had already been penciling in as one of the biggest potential fights of 2017. After watching his fighter Viktor Postol lose a one-sided decision to Terence Crawford last Saturday night in Las Vegas, the elite trainer sounded very hesitant about letting having the Filipino legend face the young lion:
It’s a very tough matchup, Crawford showed that he can move for 12 rounds, he can run for 12 rounds. But you know, in-between the running and so forth, when he does land punches, he lands really powerful punches. He hurt my guy a lot (and) I know Postol has a really good chin…so Crawford’s a pretty good puncher, he moves well and emulates Mayweather quite a bit, I think. I think he’s like a young Mayweather right now.
This is high praise from one of the sport’s most knowledgeable observers. Roach has seen Postol spar Pacquiao on multiple occasions. If you read between the lines on that quote, it’s clear that Roach saw enough to realize that Crawford would likely be able to keep Pacquiao on the outside, as Mayweather did, but that he’d also land some truly damaging shots while doing it.
Roach has spoken openly about realizing that he is a father figure to Pacquiao. The bond between the two is as strong as any fighter-trainer pair in the history of the sport. It’s hard not to appreciate Roach’s desire to protect his long-time pupil from unnecessary punishment, now that he’s at the end of his career.
Just the same, if Pacquiao isn’t going to fight Crawford, it’s hard to see any point to him coming back at all. If Pacquiao-Crawford isn’t going to happen, the only other Top Rank fighter that seems a likely opponent for Pacquiao is Jessie Vargas.
That fight would be nothing but a money-grab at this point. Vargas is a good fighter. He’s a legit top 10 at welterweight. But despite getting Timothy Bradley in bad trouble at the end of their fight last year, he was cleanly out-boxed by Pacquiao’s three-time rival. The version of Pacquiao that handled Bradley last April would beat Vargas in anti-climatic fashion.
The fight that Pacquiao vs. Crawford most reminds me of is Ray Leonard vs. Terry Norris. After a lay-off of a year, Leonard came back in February 1991, at almost 35, to face Norris and got pounded.
It was an unnecessary blemish on the record of one of the sport’s greatest all-time performers. Just the same, it was the most relevant fight out there at the time.
At a certain point, extending the career for a great fighter only makes sense if he’s taking those kind of risks.