Terence Crawford hit NYC to talk up his May 20 clash against Felix Diaz, to unfold in the big room at Madison Square Garden, and the Nebraska boxer showed a mixture of humility and edge, which stems from an affliction which comes with him being in a rare territory.
Crawford is supremely skilled, and makes good fighters look ordinary. Arguably, he hasn’t proven that he makes GREAT fighters look much less than that, in the manner of Floyd Mayweather, who toyed with Manny Pacquiao when they collided in 2015.
I got the sense that Crawford (see below, fielding press queries) would like that chance, to render someone acknowledged by fans and media as a great as something much less than that. The 20-0 boxer, age 29, told media gathered in an intimate setting before the presser kicked off downstairs that he sees a dynamic in play, one which Floyd Mayweather has spoken of.
Before the bout, media and fans see him being tested…but after he dominates, that same foe that was supposed to test him is diminished, degraded, re-rated as a lesser light. Such as when Crawford bettered Viktor Postol, who had more than a few experts tabbing as a likely upset winner when they met each other last year. Then, when Crawford wins round after round, some of those same pundits declared that Postol had an off night, or maybe wasn’t all that good to begin with.
Now, let us put it on the table: it isn’t the worst problem in the world to have.
Yes, Crawford is maybe too talented for his own good. At 140 pounds, there is no one, I don’t think, who seriously challenges him, though Diaz maintains he is that guy. (The Dominican who won gold at the 2008 Olympics admitted to me he has to fight the match of his life to beat Bud.) So, fans and media will keep trotting out scenarios, new names, new hurdles for Crawford to cross. And suppose, Crawford says, one of those hurdles is presented to him, be it Manny Pacquiao, or maybe Mikey Garcia. If and when he beats them, “they” will say Manny was too old…and Mikey too small, better suited to 135. Really, probably, Crawford will have to try and punch over his head, call out a bigger dude, be it Keith Thurman or Errol Spence, or what have you, and beat that larger specimen, for him to get “proper” and due respect.
“I never get all the credit I deserve, but that’s boxing,” Crawford told me when I put forth this “too skilled for your own good” theory to him.
“I take it and roll with it and just keep on winning, doing what I have to do to become one of the greats. Beating Vasyl Lomachenko and Manny Pacquiao, they’re just going to criticize me, say Lomachenko is too small, or Pacquiao is past his prime.” Maybe, he said, if he beats someone at their physical prime (like a Spence, say, if Spence beats Kell Brook), then he will receive due credit. Maybe…
Could he be in a position to snag proper respect if and when he goes to 147? He seems resigned to that not being the case. Whe he was at 135, “they” wanted him to go to 140. Now “they” say that 147 is where true challenges are. “When I go up to 147, they’ll be like ‘You need to go up to 154.’’’
Yes, welcome to Floyd Mayweather territory, Terence. Roy Jones felt it…Too skilled for your own good.
My take: Easy for me to say, but I would lobby Crawford to take it as a compliment. “They” see you as King Kong. They want to match you with Godzilla, not because they want to see you fail, but they regard you as a super talent, and are just trying to find a foe who can win rounds off you, let alone beat you.