Boxing

Unbeaten light welterweight champion Terence Crawford hit the jackpot last week with the news that middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin was pulling out of his December 10 date on HBO Championship Boxing due to his promoter Tom Loeffler being unable to reach agreement with his WBA ordered opponent Daniel Jacobs in time to make the fight date. Golovkin and Jacobs are still wrapped up in negotiations, but the fight will be pushed on 2017.

In the meantime, Crawford, 29, will be taking Golovkin’s spot on HBO on December 10. That’s a real positive for Crawford’s career, but his promoters at Top Rank are still going to need to find him a good name that the casual boxing fans can recognize and care about.

It’s not going to work if Top Rank trots out former Crawford opponents Raymundo Beltran, Hank Lundy and Thomas Dulorme in a tired rematch. The fans want to see Crawford fight a good name, preferably someone who hasn’t been beaten before. That’s where the hard work begins for Top Rank, because there are not a lot of recognizable big names in the 140lb division that they make a fight with for Crawford. Former four division world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner (32-2, 24 KOs) isn’t signed with Top Rank, and the chances of them getting him to agree to a contract before December 10 are nearly impossible.

There’s not enough time, and likely not enough money for a fight that will be televised on regular HBO. Broner will be fighting WBA World light welterweight champion Ricky Burns (41-5-1, 14 KOs), and that’s a big fight for the UK. Broner is far better off fighting Burns than he would be in taking on Crawford in the U.S for small money. Besides that, Broner doesn’t have the leg speed to chase Crawford all around the ring. Broner isn’t made to chase opponents. He does better in facing guys that are there and willing to fight him. Crawford would be on his bike for 12 rounds in a fight against Broner, and it would likely be a dreadful stinker for HBO, and for their subscribers. Broner is going to have his hands full as it is trying to chase down Burns all night.

As we saw in Burns’ recent fight against Kiryl Relikh, he does not like to stand and trade. He prefers to move all night long to make it difficult for his opponents to land shots. Crawford already beat Burns by a boring 12 round decision two years ago in 2014 in a fight that took place in Scotland. It could have been more interesting, but Crawford failed to step on the gas to go for a knockout in the second half of the fight. This is the same thing that happened with Crawford’s recent fight against Postol. Instead of looking to finish Postol off in the last six rounds of the fight, Crawford got on his bike and chose to move for the last six rounds. Crawford did briefly throw some shots in the 12th round, but that was only because Postol was getting the better of him with his power shots and dominating he round.

The two leading names for Crawford fight on December 10th are IBF light welterweight champion Eduard Troyanovsky (25-0, 22 KOs) and #1 WBC Antonio Orozco (25-0, 16 KOs). Those are guys that the hardcore boxing fans in the U.S would know about, but definitely no names that the casual fans will have heard of. Orozco did not look at all good in winning a controversial 10 round decision over Humberto Soto in October 2015. Orozco looked slow, and was beaten to the punch all night long.

The scoring didn’t seem to match the fight that took place on the night. The 36-year-old Soto fought well enough to win nine rounds to three, but found himself losing to the younger 27-year-old Orozco by a 10 round unanimous decision.

If Crawford is going to fight Orozco on December 10, it could be a real disappointment for boxing fans, because this would be a step down from his last fight against Viktor Postol last July. Crawford won that fight easily by a 12 round decision by using movement and counter punching to get the better of the 5’11” Ukrainian fighter.

Troyanovsky, 36, would be an even worse opponent for Crawford than Orozco, because he’s easily hittable, inexperienced, and unrecognizable to the casual boxing fans. Troyanovsky is more of a single shot puncher than a guy with a high work rate. He wouldn’t have the game plan needed to make for an interesting fight, because Crawford needs guys that throw a lot of shots and do a lot of pressuring for his fights to be exciting.

Crawford is a pot shot counter puncher, and his fights tend to drag when he faces guys that force him to be the lead. Crawford is at home when he’s in his counter puncher mode, landing shots to counter the high work rate from his opponents.

If HBO approved Orozco or Troyanovskiy as an opponent for Crawford, the boxing fans in the U.S could be in for boring fight to watch. HBO obviously won’t want that, but that would be the likely fate. At the same time, it would be bad news for Crawford’s career, because he wants to become a huge star, and so does his promoters at Top Rank.

It’s going to be hard for Crawford to become a star if he’s not matched against guys that can snap him out of his counter punching style, and force him to stop moving around the ring. Troyanovskiy and Orozco have slow feet, and will never be able to catch up to Crawford if he chooses to move endlessly like he did for 12 rounds against Postol.

Top Rank needs to think outside the box for Crawford’s next fight. Instead of looking to match him against guys that have zero chance, no power, little name recognition and slow foot speed, they need to look to get a welterweight to drop down to 140 to fight Crawford. Top Rank has the money to lure the likes of Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr., Andre Berto or Frankie Gomez to fight Crawford. You can’t say that Crawford would be out-sized by any of them, because he rehydrated to 157 pounds for his fight against Postol. That’s 17 pounds above the light welterweight 140lb weight limit.

Crawford is big enough now to fight at 147. It’s understandable why Crawford is fighting at light welterweight. With his ability to gain weight after he makes weight, he’s huge for the division. That helps him. Those advantages disappear immediately if Crawford moves up to welterweight to fight talents like Spence, who is capable of rehydrating to the low 170s.

Spence would walk Crawford down and look to break him in half with his big punches. It would be a likely nightmare for Crawford to fight a guy like Spence, but that’s what you’ve got to do if you want to bring in big ratings on HBO and become a star. You’ve got get the better fighters, and top playing it safe by fighting the unrecognizable mediocre fighters in the 140lb division. It would be great if Top Rank could get a big name for Crawford to make HBO happy and more importantly the boxing fans that tune in to see him fight.

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