Terence Crawford turns the age of 33 today. A three-weight world champion and the only man to have won all four major belts at 140 pounds, Crawford has undeniable skill and class. And promise. As amazing as it is, Crawford, a fighter who has been a pro since March of 2008, a fighter who is is ranked on everyone’s Pound-for-Pound list, a fighter who has won all those belts (135, 140, 147) is also a fighter who is yet to box his defining fight.
If we compare Crawford to the welterweight greats – which “Bud” may still become – we see how the likes of the two Sugar Rays, Tommy Hearns, Floyd Mayweather, Roberto Duran, had all had their defining fight well before the age of 30. Has Crawford wasted his prime, or at least a good deal of it? 33 is an age when a fighter who is mostly reliant on reflexes and sharpness can begin to fade (or it used to be, fighters being more well preserved these days compared to those from the 1970s, ’80’s and ’90s – or so the argument goes).
Crawford needs some big wins before he can go down as a true great, but now that he’s nearing his mid-30s some fans are wondering, might he have left it too late to get them? So far, Crawford’s best win, his most impressive win, the closest he’s got to a defining fight, is his 2014 stoppage win over the gifted Yuriorkis Gamboa. Yet Gamboa is a natural featherweight, he was simply too small for Crawford.
Next up for the Nebraskan hero is a fight with former IBF welterweight champ Kell Brook. As damaged as Brook might be due to those painful stoppage losses to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence, it’s highly possible that, crazy as it may sound, Brook is Crawford’s biggest test! Now, that’s quite amazing. But the Gamboa fight is ruled out due to the smallness of the Cuban, we can’t say Ricky Burns was Crawford’s toughest test, nor can we point at Raymundo Beltran, or at John Molina, or at Felix Diaz, or at Viktor Postol, or at Jeff Horn, or at Amir Khan, or at Egidijus Kavaliauskas.
Indeed, does an intense look at Crawford’s resume leave a fan who is trying to argue for and defend Crawford’s credentials, feeling a little empty-handed?
Brook, beaten only once at 147 pounds, this by Spence (the man we all hope, no, NEED, to see Crawford fight), really is the man with the size, strength (unless he weakens himself making weight for the November fight) and ability to give Crawford his biggest test. And that really is saying something. How has Crawford not had the big, big fights yet? What has he been waiting for? Has Crawford been avoided by the best?
The clock is ticking and assuming Crawford beats Brook (and Brook’s orbital bones don’t figure to be any stronger in this fight, broken as they were by both GGG and Spence), he has to get the elite fighters in the ring with him next year. Spence (assuming he gets past Danny Garcia in his ring return), Shawn Porter, maybe Keith Thurman (providing he’s not injured), maybe even Manny Pacquiao: Crawford has to fight and beat at least one of these guys if he’s to walk away satisfied, while at the same time leaving his fans satisfied.
It really is amazing to think Crawford, at this late stage in his career, still has fans wondering just how good he really is.
Crawford quite recently stated how he will only get the credit he deserves, his full respect, once he has retired. Maybe. Maybe Crawford will stack together a great run of truly meaningful wins in the final year or two of what will indeed go down as a simply brilliant boxing career. Maybe.