As of Thursday, Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) has vacated his WBO light welterweight title, and he’s now been made the mandatory challenger to WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs).
Horn, 29, will be allowed to take a voluntary defense against fringe contender Gary Corcoran on December 13 in Brisbane, Australia. After that fight, Horn, if he’s victorious against Corcoran, he’ll have 90 days to defend his title against Crawford, 30.
“Crawford is mandatory contender for Jeff Horn. Fight will have to be arranged within 90 days after Horn next optional defence,” per the WBO’s social media site.
Crawford moving up in weight to take the No.1 spot in the WBO’s rankings at 147 pushes superstar Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao out of the No.1 spot. Pacquiao had intended on coming back in 2018 to fight WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn in a rematch so that he could potentially avenge his 12 round unanimous decision loss earlier this year on July 1 in Brisbane, Australia.
Pacquiao had the chance to fight Horn in a rematch in November or December of this year, but he didn’t have the time to get away from his senatorial job in the Philippines. That’s bad news for Pacquiao, given that he would have had a good chance of beating Horn. Now if Pacquiao wants to win back his WBO welterweight title, he’ll need to fight the winner of the Horn vs. Crawford fight. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Crawford has a very good chance of beating Horn in early 2018.
If Crawford beats Horn, it will put Pacquiao in the position where he’ll need to fight him if he wants to get back his WBO strap. That would make Crawford and Top Rank boss Bob Arum very happy indeed. Arum has wanted to put together a fight between Crawford and Pacquiao for some time now. Crawford needs a big win over a name guy like Pacquiao to become Top Rank’s next pay-per-view attraction.
Pacquiao became a PPV star by beating an over-the-hill Oscar De La Hoya in 2008. Now it’s Pacquiao’s turn to be the idol makers by letting the young lion Crawford take his scalp to become Top Rank’s next PPV attraction. Of course, Pacquiao can still refuse to fight Crawford if he beats Horn, but it’ll be obvious to the boxing fans that the Filipino star is ducking him.
Pacquiao can certainly avoid the fight with Crawford and ask Arum to match him up against someone else. Will Arum go ahead and put Pacquiao in with another fighter if he refuses to fight Crawford or will drag his feet and not do so? Pacquiao wanted to fight Amir Khan earlier this year, but Arum opted not to make that fight. Instead, he put Pacquiao in with Jeff Horn, who he co-promotes for an in-house fight. If Pacquiao refuses to fight Crawford, we could see Arum sticking him in with Konstantin Ponomarev, who is another fighter that he promotes.
It would be great if Arum were to do business with one of the other promoters so that Pacquiao could fight WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman or IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., but it’s unlikely Arum will make either of those fights, because he doesn’t promote those guys. At this point, it’s likely that Pacquiao will only be fighting Top Rank fighters for the remainder of his career. Pacquiao has fought Top Rank guys in 11 out of his last 13 fights, so it tells you what his options will likely be for his next fight.
As for Crawford’s vacated World Boxing Organization 140 lb. title, Terry Flanagan will be moving up from lightweight to face No.1 WBO contender Maurice Blocker for the vacant WBO light welterweight title. Flanagan, 28, vacated his WBO lightweight title on Thursday after hearing the news of Crawford vacating his WBO 140lb. title. Obviously, Flanagan has been preparing for this move for some time, and he finally got his chance to go after the WBO light welterweight strap. It helps Flanagan because he’s huge for the lightweight division, and it’s unlikely that he wasn’t going to be able to continue to make weight for the 135-lb. division for too much longer.
If Crawford beats Horn, he’ll be able to call out the other welterweight champions Thurman and Spence for unification fights. However, it’s debatable whether Crawford will be able to get any of those fighters to face him. Spence and Thurman are with Al Haymon, and he would need to be willing to make a fight between one of them and Crawford.
It’s possible that Crawford could fight Thurman or Spence in 2018 or 2019. I doubt Crawford will get either of those guys. Those guys were never given the chance to fight Pacquiao despite being interested in facing him. Crawford can still get some interesting fights if he can pick up the WBO welterweight title against the likes of Jessie Vargas, Ponomarev, Lucas Matthysse, Bradley Skeete and Carlos Ocampo. Those are not big names, but that’s how it goes. If Pacquiao can fight Crawford, it would be a big positive for the Nebraska native’s boxing career. It would help him grow more popular. Realistically, the welterweight division could be a dead end for Crawford as far as him getting big fights. Crawford might need to be flexible in the type of guys that he’s willing to fight. This means Crawford might need to step up to 154 occasionally to fight guys like Jermell Charlo, Jarrett Hurd and Erislandy Lara if he wants to get important fights, because he probably won’t be matched against popular fighters at 147 if Top Rank is unable or unwilling to work with Haymon to get the bigger fights.
Crawford recently unified all the titles at 140 with his 3rd round knockout win over IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Julius Indongo on August 19. Crawford could have stayed at 140, but he would have been stuck defending all of his 4 titles in that weight class against the mostly obscure contenders. Crawford’s popularity hasn’t grown enough for him to be a PPV attraction despite having proven himself as the best fighter at 140.
If Crawford can unify all the titles at 147 like he did at 140, which is doubtful given the politics of boxing, then he could maybe become a PPV start. It’s still doubtful though. Look Gennady “GGG” Golovkin at 160. He’s holding 3 of the 4 titles in that weight class, and he’s widely recognized as the best fighter in the division, and yet he’s nowhere close to be a PPV fighter. Crawford has a long way to go before he can become a PPV guy. The only way it’s going to happen is if Crawford’s promoter Bob Arum starts working with Haymon to make the important unification fights in the welterweight division once Crawford beats Horn next year.
Crawford beating Horn isn’t going to do much to raise his status as a big name at welterweight, because the Australian is seen by a lot of boxing fans as having been given a gift decision over an old and over-the-hill Pacquiao. Horn isn’t a big enough name to give Crawford any kind of bounce as far as popularity goes if he beats him. For Crawford to become a star, he’ll need to clean the welterweight division up by beating ALL the top names, including guys from 154 and maybe even 160 as well. There aren’t enough top names at 147 for Crawford to become a PPV star.
Crawford will need to show that he can move up in weight and defeat the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade and the Charlo brothers. I wish Crawford a lot of luck in doing all that. I don’t think he’ll even try though. I see Crawford staying at 147 for the remainder of his boxing career, and defending the WBO title against the top 15 contenders in the WBO’s rankings. If Crawford is lucky, he’ll get a fight against Pacquiao. I think that’s about it though for Crawford.