Hall of Fame Top Rank boss Bob Arum may or may not have had his promotional hat placed firmly on his head (more than likely the latter) but at the official presser to announce the April 20th Terence Crawford/Amir Khan fight, Arum called the unbeaten Crawford “the best welterweight since Sugar Ray Leonard.” Incredibly high praise indeed, but is it warranted?
Crawford has made his mark on the sport, and in the pound-for-pound ratings, in a big, big way, of course, but as a welterweight, “Bud” has boxed just twice; seeing off Jeff Horn and, last time out, Jose Benavidez Jnr. There is no doubting Crawford’s talent, his ring IQ and his speed and grace, but is Arum guilty of jumping the gun somewhat?
Photo: Top Rank
If we look at the fine welterweights who came after the second Sugar Ray (the man born Walker Smith Jnr of course being the first and finest boxer to hold the moniker), we see some great fighters. Is Crawford, 34-0(25) really better than Don Curry, Marlon Starling (an underrated fighter if ever there was one), Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather?
In time, maybe Crawford will prove to be as great, or greater, than the superb boxers listed above, but all those guys had one big thing in common: they all had top quality dance partners against which to prove their greatness. Until he fights and defeats the best 147 pound operators around today – Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and one or two others – Crawford cannot be ranked up there with Sugar Ray, “Money,” “Sweet Pea” and the like.
We need to see Crawford bring out his absolute best and defeat his fiercest rivals. Until then, Crawford’s finest achievements will be those he picked up at 135 and 140 pounds. And this is the knock on Crawford right now, according to some fans anyway: he is not facing the best possible opposition at 147. Amir Khan will, as we know, try his hardest in April, but the Bolton man doesn’t figure to bring out the best in Crawford.
Only Spence and Thurman and maybe a couple of other fighters can be expected to do that.