04/18 15:12 CDT Crawford defends vs Khan, seeks win first and respect after
Crawford defends vs Khan, seeks win first and respect after
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) --- Sometimes it bothers Terence Crawford.
He will dominate a fight so completely that it's hard to find minutes, forget
about entire rounds, that he didn't win. Yet afterward, rather than earning him
praise for his package of power and precision, what follows is criticism of the
"When you've got undefeated gold medalists and world champions, where before
the fight a lot of writers and fans think that they're going to steamroll me or
they're too big for me, and this is going to be the toughest fight of my
career, after the fight, they say, 'He wasn't that good,'" Crawford said. "Or,
'He was a stand-up fighter.' Or, 'He was slow.' Or, 'We knew you were going to
do this, we just had to hype up the fight.' So they discredit me."
Crawford will try to keep finding fights that can change that, and he believes
he's got one Saturday.
Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) defends his welterweight title at Madison Square Garden
against veteran Amir Khan (33-4, 20 KOs), the 2004 Olympic silver medalist from
Britain who 15 years later is looking for what could be his biggest victory as
"Terence is very high in the pound-for-pound rankings, maybe No. 1 or No. 2,"
Khan said. "So, it's just amazing for me to be in this position once again.
That itself is a great motivation for me, to know that I'm fighting the best
out there once again. And it makes me train harder, work harder and focus on
Promoter Bob Arum chose Crawford to headline the first pay-per-view card of Top
Rank's deal with ESPN, comparing him with Sugar Ray Leonard. The skills may be
similar, but the resumes are not. Leonard's fights against the likes of Roberto
Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler have their own chapters in boxing
history, while Crawford is still searching for the matchup that will ensure the
legacy he craves.
Even before the Omaha, Nebraska product impressively unified the four major
140-pound titles, he was already peppered with questions about when he'd move
up to welterweight, as if a change in weight would assure a change in
competition. Even the move to 147 and victory over Jeff Horn to take the WBO
title didn't do too much for him, because many people never thought Horn
actually beat Manny Pacquiao to win the title in the first place.
Victories over fellow welterweight champions Errol Spence Jr. or Keith Thurman
couldn't be ignored, but given boxing's complicated politics he's just as
likely to get Leonard in the ring, at least for now.
But Crawford continues trying. Top Rank was moving toward lining up a match
with Luis Collazo --- a fighter Khan beat --- for this defense. Crawford wanted
something he felt would be better and Khan was eager to accept.
"Amir Khan is a great fighter," Crawford said. "I can't take nothing away from
him. He's done a lot in the sport of boxing. He has a big name. He's undefeated
at the welterweight division. So why not take another step up?"
That's what Khan is doing. A match with fellow British star Kell Brook might
pay him more, make him a bigger star in Britain and likely be more winnable,
but he changed course when the Crawford offer became available. Khan doesn't
shy away from big odds or bigger fighters, facing middleweight champion Canelo
Alvarez three years ago and using his speed to fight well for a few rounds
before getting knocked out.
After two years out of action, he returned in 2018 and has won two fights in a
row. He has gone back to trainer Virgil Hunter, under whom he said he's had his
The undercard includes Shakur Stevenson and Teofimo Lopez, 2016 Olympians who
seem on the way to being stars as professionals. Khan was in their situation
long ago and he has gone on to reach some highs, though they were offset by a
few lows. But Arum knows of Khan's capabilities, remembering watching him in
Pacquaio's training camp.
"So I know what he brings to this party, and I am really looking forward to
performances by two great fighters," he said. "A generational talent in Terence
Crawford, and one of the great fighters I've seen in Amir Khan."
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