Terence Crawford is the best fighter in world and nobody seems to know it.
That’s all I can think about after watching Crawford destroy Jeff Horn on Saturday night in Las Vegas. The win netted Crawford a world alphabet title in his third weight class, welterweight, and puts him in position to do something really special very soon.
Crawford has already won two lineal boxing championships per the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. He became the lightweight champion by defeating Ray Beltran via decision in 2014 and did the same at junior welterweight by beating Viktor Postol in 2016.
Just two years later, Crawford is already positioned to capture his third lineal championship. Ranked No. 2 at welterweight after snatching the WBO crown from Horn..
..Crawford needs only to secure the most obvious superfight that can be made in the 147 pound division: a showdown with Errol Spence, the No. 1 ranked welterweight per the TBRB (and IBF welterweight titleholder).
As great as Spence has looked, and even as much as he deserves to be ranked higher than Crawford at welterweight specifically for the work he’s done at 147 pounds, Crawford just seems like a fighter destined to become an all-time great.
Crawford reminds me of Floyd Mayweather. Jimmy Tobin noted the same this week in a column for 15rounds.com:
“There is something Mayweather-like about Crawford (now the best American fighter in the world), in the way he first studies then disarms his opponents. But unlike the welterweight version of Mayweather, Crawford goes beyond merely establishing dominance, he imperils himself at his opponent’s expense. You do not hang around with [Crawford]: if he thinks he can end you your daylights depend on convincing him otherwise. That may change at welterweight, where opponents are more stubbornly absorbent, but the strength and power Crawford displayed Saturday say otherwise.”
It’s true. Where Mayweather was all precision and craftsmanship, Crawford is that plus the penchant for going out of his way to create drama in fights where it otherwise may not exist. Where Mayweather was fine with taking a clear decision win, Crawford pushes the gas pedal down hard in a way that reminds me of Ray Leonard at his best.
Is it hyperbole for me to say Crawford is a combination of Mayweather and Leonard? Or is this something no one will argue about once Crawford’s finished plying his trade?
Whatever the case may be, Crawford deserves to be ranked the No. 1 pound for pound fighter in the world right now. Sadly, he just doesn’t seem to be getting that recognition.
Crawford is ranked No. 2 by the TBRB and the Boxing Writers Association of America behind Vasyl Lomachenko. It’s hardly important to get worked up over pound for pound rankings, but the topic is at least worth a little thought and debate. After all, how much more is a fighter worth to television networks if he’s perceived to be the pound for pound king of the sport? Mayweather’s career earnings soared after he secured that mantle along with many other fighters before him. For that reason alone, pound for pound rankings are something to get right.
Lomachenko is truly an outstanding fighter. He’s fast, ferocious and after just 12 professional contests has already become one of the most highly decorated prizefighters in boxing.
Add to his ledger his three Olympic gold medals, his incredibly athletic frame and his single-minded approach to being the best sweet scientist he can possible be, and Lomachenko seems a shoe in for landing near the top of any legitimate pound for pound lists the sport has to offer.
But while Lomachenko resume is impressive, it’s not Crawford’s. Alphabet belts are great, but the most prestigious, noteworthy and important measure of any fighter’s credibility is the accomplishment of capturing lineal championships. Crawford has been the legitimate world champion of two different weight classes. Lomachenko hasn’t even done that once.
To me, what someone has done carries a lot more weight than what I think he might do. While Lomachenko appears to be on his way to doing some really big things in the sport, the point of the matter is that he hasn’t done those things yet.
Unfortunately, I think many of the people voting on pound for pound panels these days get caught up in the wrong narratives.
The wrong narratives are the ones that tell us to rank fighters on pound for pound lists according to how good we think they might be. That can be part of the calculation. That’s probably why pound for pound lists exist in the first place.
But shouldn’t what someone has actually accomplished always be more important in ranking fighters than the pretend head to head battles we play in our heads using our imaginations? All the pretending is fine so long as one admits the truth of the matter: it’s not real.
Ring Magazine ranks Crawford No. 3. That panel lists unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin No. 1 and Lomachenko No. 2. I’m not sure how the unitive will of that group could end up ranking Golovkin No. 1. While Golovkin is a tremendous middleweight title holder, he’s failed to clean out the middleweight division over the course of his career and has yet to win a lineal championship there. And Golovkin has shied away from going up in weight to chase more competitive fights.
In the end, Golovkin deserves credit for unifying some alphabet titles and being a great middleweight champion. But he’s never become THE middleweight champion. Maybe he could win it and maybe he should have already won it.
But has he yet?
To me, Crawford is the clear choice to be ranked the No. 1 fighter in all of boxing. He’s paid his dues. He’s done the deeds. There’s no one in boxing who deserves it more.
Let’s hope more people on pound for pound voting panels starting thinking the same way, too.
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