By Chrysty Williams, first published on Boxing News 24.
Light welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) says he’s hungry for all the titles in the welterweight division. After unifying all 4 world titles at 140, Crawford, 29, announced last month that he’s going to be moving up to 147 to go after all the titles in that weight division.
Crawford said he was going to attend the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn rematch that was previously scheduled to take place on November 12. But with that fight now off the table due to Pacquiao saying he won’t fight again until 2018, Crawford has been silent about when he plans on moving up to 147. He vacated his IBF 140 lb. title last week after being ordered by the International Boxing Federation to defend it against mandatory Sergei Lipinetc
”I’m hungry and I need all. #147,” said Crawford on his Twitter. ”It’s the takeover! Team Crawford.”
Here’s the problem that Crawford has. His promoters at Top Rank don’t do a lot of match-making with the management of the top welterweight champions and contenders. Top Rank boss Bob Arum never matched his No.1 fighter Manny Pacquiao against Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and Errol Spence Jr. despite them wanting to fight the Filipino fighter.
So, now that Crawford wants to fight for the IBF, WBA and WBC titles against Thurman and Spence, he’s kind of in a bad position to get those fights. That’s not to say the fights can’t take place one of these days when Crawford becomes more popular and/or when Top Rank starts working with Haymon on a frequent basis, but right now it’s highly unlikely Crawford will be fighting either of those guys.
If Crawford does make the move up to welterweight, he’s likely going to get put in line for a fast track title shot against WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn, but only after he faces Pacquiao in a rematch. Top Rank would be making a mistake if they matched Crawford against Horn before the Horn-Pacquiao rematch, because there’s more money to be made in a rematch between those two fighters than if Top Rank introduces Crawford into the equation by putting him in with Horn right now.
If Crawford moves up to light welterweight in his next fight, then Top Rank will need to find someone to fight. I don’t think it’s going to be Jessie Vargas, because he’s likely going to be the fill in opponent for Horn to fight in November or December in place of Pacquiao.
Horn can probably beat Vargas. I say ‘probably’ beat Vargas, being that Horn has a lot of holes in his game that makes him beatable against any of the top welterweights. Vargas is technically a top welterweight. He’s not in the upper class of the welterweight division, but he’s a decent middle of the pack type of fighter. Horn is at a top 5 guy.
I rate Horn at this level:
1. Errol Spence Jr.
2. Keith Thurman
3. Shawn Porter
4. Danny Garcia
5. Manny Pacquiao
6. Jeff Horn
7. Jessie Vargas
8. Lucas Matthysse
9. Bradley Skeete
10. Sam Eggingon
Matthysse would be a lot of trouble for Horn if that fight were to get made, which it isn’t obviously. He’s not with Top Rank, so I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a title shot against Horn if I were Matthysse. Crawford is going to going to have to face someone when he goes up to 147. It’s not going to be Horn, Jessie Vargas, and it likely won’ be Konstantin Ponomarev, even though those guys are all with Top Rank.
Vargas and Ponomarev are likely being saved up like chestnuts by Top Rank to use them as title challengers for Horn or Pacquiao if he wins back the WBO title. Crawford will get put in with some low level guy when he moves up to 147, unless Top Rank can persuade the World Boxing Organization to have him fight a WBO eliminator bout against the likes of Matthysse. The Argentinian is ranked right behind Pacquiao at No.2 in the WBO’s rankings at 147. It’s very likely that for Matthysse to get a title shot against Horn for his WBO belt, he’ll probably need to fight in an eliminator.
It’s not going to be a situation where the WBO will install Matthysse a No.1 in their 147 lb. division without him working or it. That would be kind of sad if Matthysse has to fight for the No.1 spot, because the WBO recently installed Miguel Cotto at No.1 at 154 with him not having fought in 20 months and coming off of a loss to Saul Canelo Alvarez in his last fight in November 2015. As such, I see the WBO ordering Crawford and Matthysse to fight in a WBO title eliminator at 147 to determine Horn’s mandatory challenger. Top Rank doesn’t really need to make this move, but by the WBO ordering the Crawford-Matthysse fight, it gives Crawford a notable scalp to add to his collection in Matthysse and will make him seem more credible to the casual and boxing fans.
Crawford has to fight somebody when he moves up in weight to 147, and there are very limited options in the WBO’s top 15 ratings right now once you exclude Top Rank’s stable guys Ponomarev and Jessie Vargas. Like I said, Top Rank won’t use Ponomarev and Vargas, because those guys are eventual world title fodder type opponents for Horn or Pacquiao.
Crawford is going to have a hard time getting a fight against any of the well-known welterweight contenders outside of the Top Rank stable, because the other promoters aren’t going to take a risky fight against the switch-hitting counter puncher. The only notable guy for Crawford to fight immediately at 147 is Matthysse, and only if the WBO orders the fight against him as a title eliminator. Even then, I can see Matthysse’s promoters ignoring the WBO if they order him to fight Crawford. That’s not a good fight for Matthysse, as he’s been out of the ring for close to 2 years since his 10th round knockout loss to Viktor Postol on October 3, 2015.
Crawford is coming off of a 3rd round knockout win over IBF light welterweight champion Julius “Blue Machine” Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs) on August 19 in their fight at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Crawford stopped Indongo with a body shot in round 3 to get the knockout. The win for Crawford briefly made him the unified champion at 140 in holding down all 4 belts in the division. Not long after that, Crawford vacated his IBF title after being ordered to fight Lipinetc.
Crawford now holds 3 of the 4 titles at 140. He’s expected to vacate the other 3 titles shortly when he moves up to welterweight. It would be unfortunate if Crawford takes his time before giving up the titles so he can have them as a status thing. If he’s not going to defend them again, then he should be stripped of his titles.
If Crawford ever does get fights against Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Errol Spence, he’s going to have a hard time against those guys. They all can punch bag, and they’re not going to be bowled over by the shots that Indongo was hit with. Crawford will be getting hit back by those guys, and I’m not sure he’s going to be able to handle their power too well. It could take years though before Crawford eventually gets a fight against any of them. Like I said, Top Rank didn’t do Danny Garcia, Thurman or Errol Spence any favors by matching them against Pacquiao. Why should the management for those guys do Top Rank a favor by fighting Crawford? The lack of back and forth match-making between Top Rank and the promoters and management for Spence, Thurman and Garcia could keep Crawford from getting a fight against any of them for years and years if ever. Crawford is likely going to need to become a star for him to get Crawford, Spence, Porter and Garcia to fight him. It’s going to be hard for Crawford to become a star if all he’s going to be fighting is guys like Jessie Vargas, Horn and Ponomarev.