Terence Crawford is among the very best in the business of throwing hands, maybe the best. Some think so, though I think more might if he were a self promoter in the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vein. Or, not even in the Mayweather vein, but if he were a bit less the Nebraskan and a bit more the typical New Yorker, say.
Crawford is not about bluster, not about s__t talking. He’s not that much about talking, really, as you can hear on this Everlast podcast, or you know if you were in the room on Tuesday at Modell’s in Times Square, when we did a live taping and glove giveaway and Q&A.
Oh, Crawford has a personality, it’s just more so that he is comfortable enough and inclined to show it with his crew. Media, not as much. This age of coverage, the style of coverage, it isn’t to his liking. He’s been bitten a few times and is thus shy with some media who he thinks take a decidedly negative slant when a “juicy” story pops up. They will print the allegations but won’t go out of their way to pursue the other side of the story, his side.
It happens—a celeb gets in a kerfuffle and, of course, it gets blown out of proportion, to match the size of their public profile. For a guy from Nebraska with a tendency to insularity, to keeping it tight with a trusted crew, it is off putting.
All this is somewhat immaterial if we shift our gaze toward the ring. Toward what Crawford does inside the squared circle. There, there is less conflict, the goal is clear, the motivations of the principals are clear. There is no surprise gotcha element, or the likelihood that a hit job will come out of nowhere. It is Bud in there with a guy who wants to knock his head off, and he wants to knock that guys’ head off, and it doesn’t get much clearer than that.
On Saturday, once-beaten welterweight fringe contender Felix Diaz will be the one trying to knock Crawford’s head off and earn THE RING, WBC and WBO 140-pound titles in an HBO-televised main event from Madison Square Garden.
On Tuesday, Crawford and me were on a beautiful stage setup, and he gave away signed gloves and then we chatted some, before the 30-0 (21 KOs) junior welterweight ace did some selfies with adoring fans and took fan questions.
The 29-year-old champ gave us a scouting report on Diaz, a 33-year-old Dominican who won gold at the 2008 Olympics, and is 19-1, though he might have won that “L” fight.
“He’s a southpaw, short, pretty fast, tough, Olympic gold medalist,” he told us, in a quiet, soft-spoken style. (Crawford really lit up and shared copiously when he introduced all the members of his camp crew.) “He may or may not be the best guy you’ve fought,” I told him, but noted that Diaz does good work inside against guys who don’t move like Crawford does. Crawford does! He combines movement and getting angles and punch placement and the whole nine to the point that he is in the mix to maybe be the best pound for pound. We touched on that..
Are you the best in the biz? “Of course. Why would I think somebody else is better than me,” he asked rhetorically.
And is there a fight out there to prove to one and all that he is No. 1? “Anthony Joshua,” he cracked, making clear that there will always be doubters.
Everlast made a glorious banner which featured Crawford as “A Legend In the Making.” I asked about that. He said that every fighter really wants to leave that majestic legacy behind. Is he 50 percent there? 75 percent?
“I never look at it like that. I just continue to do my thing,” he said, refusing an opportunity to engage in some lobbying, and maybe peel off some of the doubters, who maybe lean Andre Ward or Vasyl Lomachenko or whoever as P4P No. 1.
I asked about the digital series “Camp Life” done by Top Rank, and he talked about his five kids. He says he likes having them around camp, because “my daughter comes first with anything and everything.”
I’m supposing Bud beats Diaz, what might be next?
“I’m not even speaking about (Manny) Pacquiao, if it happens it happens. I don’t feel I need Pacquiao to cement my legacy,” Crawford stated. And hey, what about Crawford v Lomachenko? Loma said after winning his most recent fight he wants Bud.
“Tell him to come up to 140,” Crawford said. “Then they gonna criticize me and say, ‘Hey, you beating up on little guys,’” Crawford pointed out. “People want you to fight Godzilla, and after you beat Godzilla, then fight King Kong,” I stated. “Fortunately, you are well compensated, so you can tell the people to shut up.”
What after this, someone asked. Julius Indongo holds the IBF 140-pound strap, so maybe him. “Mikey Garcia is at 135, but if he comes to 140, that’s a fight, too,” Crawford said. “That would be absolutely one of the most anticipated fights of the year,” I said. Would Garcia want that, though? I pointed out that Freddie Roach said Robert Garcia asked Roach if Manny would fight Mikey, Freddie said yes Manny would, so we shall see.
During the fan Q&A, someone asked if Crawford maybe would fight Canelo Alvarez, who is a middleweight. Crawford laughed. “It’s too far a gap, my friend,” I answered. “It’s alright, I beat him, and crush your heart,” the Nebraskan said while chuckling.
Danny Garcia? Want that? “Of course,” said Crawford. He’d take that next fight, he told us.
He finished allowing fans to come up and grab a selfie and then it was a wrap.
Focusing on the in ring deal, let’s touch on Diaz, and the scrap which screens on HBO.
In tight, he can work. Feet and hands, not as fast as Bud. Not as good at getting angles. Smart, composed, he has fun. Real good counter puncher. Peterson wouldn’t move and slide that much, Bud will. Diaz has looked good against less mobile guys, Saturday will, I think, be a rude wake up call for him. As Bernard Hopkins said on his “The Fight Game” segment… Crawford “hypnotizes” foes, is “an elite talent at the height of his powers” and “no one is as cool under pressure.”
I concur. I expect Diaz to taste defeat via stoppage for the first time. Your thoughts, friends?
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