Terence Crawford has the weight of the world on his shoulders. After beating Errol Spence Jr to become the undisputed welterweight champion and the consensus pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet, all eyes are on ‘Bud’. But now Crawford is looking to shift that weight from his shoulders to the rest of his body, as he eyes an ambitious plan to move to super middleweight and face fellow undisputed champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Just two weeks ago, people were comparing the legacies of the two fighters to try to determine the post-Floyd Mayweather era’s best fighter. Now it looks like the dispute could actually be settled in the prize ring. It is a completely unexpected twist that sums up the circus mirror era of boxing we are currently living through. In a way, we should just be grateful ‘Bud’ is eyeing a fight with ‘Canelo’ and not Jake Paul.
Speaking on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Crawford explained his openness to an Alvarez fight. Crawford told the controversial host: “I’m ready now. People think it’s all about weight, but I think it’s skill. I’ve got the power to make anybody respect me, I don’t care what your weight is.”
Such a move is uncommon but not unprecedented. After all, ‘Canelo’ is fighting undisputed 154-pound boss Jermell Charlo in his next outing. Is the Mexican asking ‘Iron Man’ to pack on 14 pounds much different from Crawford gaining 21? Boxing is a game of fine margins and seven pounds is a lot of weight in that context. But it at least shows a precedent in Alvarez’s own canon for such tasks.
Alvarez is also not a super middleweight of typical dimensions. He and Crawford are actually the same height at 5’8. With the right conditioning a victory is possible, if unlikely. After all, long-time middleweight king Bernard Hopkins gained 15 pounds in order to win Antonio Tarver’s The Ring light heavyweight title in 2006. Then again, measuring yourself against a man who was still winning world titles at the record-breaking age of 49 is perhaps a little unrealistic.
But other fighters have made up such chasms in weight with success. The great Henry Armstrong actually simultaneously reigned as featherweight, lightweight and welterweight champion in the late 1930s. Roy Jones Jr moved from light heavyweight all the way up to heavyweight in 2003, skipping cruiserweight on his way to winning the WBA heavyweight championship from John Ruiz.
The fact the examples given are three of the greatest fighters of all time; Jones Jr, Hopkins and Armstrong, tells you all you need to know about such a challenge. And yet, perhaps to be truly great one has to venture in this way in order to secure the ultimate gain. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that ‘Canelo’ himself got a cruiserweight title challenge ratified at a WBC conference. That proposed fight with then-champion Ilunga Makabu never happened, but it shows that same elite mentality which now motivates Crawford.
That is what this comes down to for Crawford. At the age of 35, he doesn’t have time to spare. The pound-for-pound boss understandably doesn’t want to waste time with anything less than the biggest fights. It is the sort of ambition we scold fighters for not having. Yet when it confronts us, bare-faced and brave, we shun it. Would Crawford beat ‘Canelo’? On the evidence you’d say no. Super middleweight is a massive jump and Alvarez has never been defeated at the weight. On the other hand, why shouldn’t Crawford at least try? No fight that could be conjured at welterweight or light middleweight comes close to this blockbuster. It would be a meeting of the two biggest non-heavyweight stars in boxing. With the turning tide favouring social media influencers over true boxers, this is the exact sort of event the sport needs.
Let Crawford dare to be great. Cherish the bravery rather than lament the hubris. If he loses, we end up back where we started. He remains the finest welterweight since a certain ‘Money’ man hung up the gloves. ‘Canelo’ will have another notch on his multitude of title belts. But if he wins, there may not be a wing in the Hall of Fame big enough to hold the plaudits Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford will deserve.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change