Pacquiao-Crawford: The bridesmaid bout becomes a fabulous option
With Terence Crawford’s exciting win last weekend over tough Ray Beltran, he once again reminded fans why he is a fighter rapidly moving up the ladder in the pound-for-pound rankings while expanding his fan base along the way. Manny Pacquiao, 57-5-2 (38), recently put in a great showing over game but outgunned New Yorker Chris Algieri in Macau, China. With both fighters working under the Top Rank Promotions umbrella, talk of a possible Pacquiao-Crawford bout understandably popped up after the fight. Crawford, 25-0 (17), announced he would indeed move up to 140 pounds for his next fight and Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach has said he will move his charge back down seven pounds from junior welterweight if a bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. can’t be secured for his next assignment. Two of boxing’s best fighters, Pacquiao and Crawford, in the same weight class and both looking for the best challenges out there spells “Game on.”
Pacquiao, a long-established star in the game, and Crawford, currently Omaha’s biggest sports icon, would be a sizzler that would light up the boxing world. Styles make fights and both these guys have shown an ability to box and brawl that would make this fight an (almost guaranteed) all-action war.
Pacquiao has maintained his speed over the years and, even at age 35, still doesn’t appear to have lost a step. Nebraska’s Crawford has shown an outstanding jab, great movement, a solid chin and lots of dog in him to get down and rumble if need be. In short, Pacquiao tangling with Crawford would pit two of boxing’s best and most willing fighters against each other.
Pacquiao has a résumé that includes classic bouts against some of the game’s best including Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales to name but a few. Crawford burst onto the scene over the past year with exciting, breakout title defences over Yuriorkis Gamboa and Ray Beltran after beating champion Ricky Burns in his title-winning effort in March of this year in Burns’ backyard in Scotland.
While fight fans would welcome a Crawford-Pacquiao bout, it is the bridesmaid to the main event that the whole sports world is craving: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Boxing has long been hoping that Floyd Mayweather would agree to a bout with Manny Pacquiao, the biggest fight in boxing today and a fight that could very well define both fighters’ careers.
Despite both Hall of Fame-bound boxers boasting a who’s who list of opponents, each boxer’s legacy will suffer if they don’t face off against one another. And it needs to happen soon at a time when the fight is still relevant. If put off too long, it could happen at a time when one or both have started to show a decline in their skill sets, leaving fight fans to wonder what could have been.
Great fighters need great opponents to elevate and define their careers and legacies. It doesn’t always happen depending on timing, the era or a number of other factors out of their control. Both Floyd and Manny have the time, opportunity and the opponent to have one of those fights, one every fighter hopes for during their time in the game.
It would be a shame if Mayweather-Pacquiao didn’t happen. You wouldn’t think that two fighters with multiple world titles between them and marquee wins over an assortment of Hall of Fame opponents would need anything to define their already legendary careers. But they do; they need each other. From all reports, Manny has conceded to all requests from Team Mayweather and it is now just a matter of waiting for Floyd to say yes. It should happen in 2015. The time is right but the window is closing with every passing year.
But if Pacquiao can’t convince Mayweather to step up, there is a really exciting lightweight heading a few pounds north to the junior welterweight division who would love to fight him. And Terence Crawford is willing and welcomes the toughest fights available. Crawford has stated he wants to fight the best his division has to offer during his time at the top. Now that he’s planning on making a pivotal move to the 140-pound division, that desire will define his legacy and tenure as a current and future champion. The willingness to test one’s self against the very best at his very best is what truly defines a real fighter. Nothing else.