On Saturday night in Las Vegas, undefeated WBO super lightweight champion Terence Crawford faces what will very likely be the toughest test of his career to date, when he battles undefeated WBC champ Viktor Postol in a unification bout.
Postol is a legitimate champion in his own right, with everything going for him. The undefeated Ukrainian is trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach. He captured his title with one of 2015’s most impressive stoppages, over the tough-as-nails Lucas Matthysse.
So nobody should be penciling Crawford in for a victory over Postol. Boxing storylines don’t write themselves. They are written in the ring and Postol will have his own say in what happens Saturday night.
But it’s hard not to watch Crawford’s past couple of years without thinking that you are watching something special. Crawford has made a habit out of beating very good fighters with ease. He has great physical tools and outstanding ring intelligence. He has consistently made shrewd adjustments in the middle of fights.
Beyond that, Crawford is a straight up fighter. He doesn’t finesse opponents. He breaks them down. He takes pre-fight trash talk personally and unleashes a mean streak inside the ring that stays mostly hidden the rest of the time. He has the talent to win fights without much engagement, but he clearly enjoys mixing it up, which makes for exciting, fan-friendly fights.
For that reason, Crawford’s fights have become must-see television for serious boxing fans. HBO has shown an awareness of that by making this clash with Postol a pay-per-view. I’m not crazy about paying extra to see this fight, but I’ll be doing it. This is one of the most important fights of 2016, without question.
I do not think the sales numbers for this will be all that impressive. Crawford has yet to catch on with the casuals who really push PPV sales. But this fight with Postol is the beginning of that. It’s the two best guys in a division throwing down. That’s an easy sell and easy to explain to fans who don’t follow the sport obsessively.
If Crawford takes care of business with Postol, he’ll have major fights waiting for him at full welterweight. That’s a big if, of course. But American boxing fans are justified in having their hopes up.