"I go into the ring knowing that, on any given day, any fighter can lose. I don't carry myself as unbeatable."
Terence Crawford isn’t looking past the weekend and if he is, judging by these quotes to Sky Sports, he’s not making it obvious - but the WBO welterweight champion, who faces Sheffield’s Kell Brook at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night, can’t shake questions over his plans in 2021.
It’s been a curious few years for the three-weight world champion, undoubtedly one of the finest boxers on the planet, and patience is wearing thin for fans of the Nebraskan, who hasn’t fought since last December and has had his quality of opposition called into question, lacking a real stand-out win.
In 2017, Crawford, nicknamed ‘Bud,’ was on top of the world having unified the light-welterweight title, subsequently becoming the first male boxer to simultaneously hold all four major world titles in boxing (WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO) since 2005. He was widely considered the rightful pound-for-pound king to many, yet, despite not even looking like losing in his career thus far, his stock has fallen tremendously.
That leads us to this tonight’s fight with Brook, and one many fight fans are already overlooking as a gimmee for Crawford and one that has led to unwarranted speculation over what’s next for him after Brook. There’s a throng of superstar welterweights waiting in line for potential 2021 showdowns with the 33-year-old should he win including Manny Pacquiao, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, and perhaps most excitingly, Errol Spence Jr.
There’s no question these would all generate a lot of interest and we should count our blessings if we see any of them materialise but you’ve got to have some sympathy for Brook who’s essentially been given the title of ‘stepping stone’ ahead of this fight, an insult to the former IBF world champion that has lost just two of his 41 professional fights, once against the much bigger Gennady Golovkin and once against the highly-talented Spence. Make no mistake, it would arguably be the greatest British upset on foreign soil were Brook to triumph in Vegas but let’s not forget he’s travelled to the States to dethrone an unbeaten champion before (Porter in California in 2014).
True superstardom could await Crawford in 2021 should he overcome Brook tonight, but let’s not write the Brit off just yet. Boxing has definitely seen crazier things.