Terence Crawford Interview: My Focus Is On Man In Front Of Me, Not Manny Pacquiao

The welterweight champ once survived a bullet to the head and now refuses to look too far ahead
17:01, 14 Dec 2019

Terence Crawford will never forget the moment he knew had to turn his life around. It was the moment he was shot in the head and somehow survived.

The bullet ripped through his car window and slashed his head, below the ear. The 32-year-old they simply call 'Bud' looks on the shooting as an epiphany, his time to do or die. He didn't want to die, so he stepped-up, and made the changes that have led him to where he is today.

The three-weight world champion was a fledgling professional boxer when he had his miraculous escape, now he stands ready to defend his WBO welterweight crown against the undefeated mandatory challenger, Egidijus 'Mean Machine' Kavaliauskas, on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, New York City.  

Crawford - whose record stands at 35-0 - will put his title on the line for the third successive time since claiming the crown from Jeff Horn back in 2018.

"When I got shot, it changed my life tremendously, and put me on the right path," says Crawford. "And that's when everything started happening there for me with boxing and my family and just everything. My life just took a big turn and started going uphill."

Welterweight Crawford is ranked by The Ring magazine as the fourth-best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. And everywhere he goes there's one name that seems to follow him around - Manny Pacquiao.

In the build-up to his latest fight Crawford has fronted up for all kinds of for media obligations and remained patient and focussed as the questions about potential unification fights with Errol Spence Jr and Pacquiao continue to flood in.  

Speaking to The Sportsman, Crawford says: "I don't worry about them questions from the media. My job isn't to worry about what people say about me or what I have done compared to other fighters.

"I don't entertain them type of questions, they aren't what I am looking for. My main focus is on this weekend against my opponent. I am not focused on any other opponent or what's in the future. I am only focused on what is in front of me, and that's Kavaliauskas and that's the only guy that I am thinking about.

"I have no interest talking about those guys, I have a fight this weekend and that's the only guy I am going to talk about."

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Kavaliauskas is a native of Lithuania who turned professional in 2013 after a successful amateur background including participating in two Olympic games. He will be the first mandatory challenger since Crawford moved up to the welterweight division. Undefeated in 22 fights, he will bring speed, power and physical strength advantages, and firmly believes he will be the one to knock Crawford off from being arguably the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world.  

And Crawford does not underestimate the challenge in front of him, he admits:  "This fight is risky, he's very strong, he can punch hard and he's durable. He knows what he is doing inside the ring. He might not be the fastest fighter, and he might not be the most well-known fighter, but he's the type of fighter that people have got to watch out for because he's one of them fighters that is very determined and hungry and that's going to make for a great fight this weekend.

"I know he's going to bring a lot of pressure, different angles, I don't believe he's going to outbox me, but if he does, I am prepared for that. I am prepared for anything he brings to the table. I know he's going to be rough in there and bring all the pressure and dig to my body, but I am going to be prepared for whatever he brings to the table."

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Father-of-five Crawford, is no stranger to Madison Square Garden, he's already headlined two major world title bouts at the iconic venue in his career. He made his debut there when he defended his super-lightweight titles against former gold medallist Felix Diaz in May 2017. He then made a return to the arena back in April this year, knocking out Amir Khan to retain his 147Ib crown.

Despite some of the greatest fighters of all time competing at MSG, Crawford states that it's just another fight, at another venue for him going into this weekend. 

"It's an amazing arena, very historical, and it's known that some of the greatest fighters and athletes to have competed there, but at the end of the day, it's just an arena to me. I prepare for a fight exactly the same, whether it's at Madison Square Garden, MGM Arena or back home in Nebraska, it doesn't matter because at the end of the day you have got to go out there and perform," he tells The Sportsman.

And perform he has, Crawford has won world titles in three weight divisions including lightweight, super-lightweight and now welterweight. He dismisses comments he made during fight week that he would move up to middleweight after this fight as him just teasing the media. But he refused to rule out such a move in the future. 

Explaining his motives, he added: "I said it because I knew the media were going to run with it. You never know what the future may hold, I might, I might not. But right now I am very comfortable at 147Ibs, and that's where my focus is at going forward."

Make no mistake, if he puts his mind to it, Crawford will make the move up to middleweight. After all this is the man who turned his life around after surviving a bullet to the head. But for now, he remains fully focused on the task in hand, the time to step up and do what he needs to do. Nothing new there for Terence 'Bud' Crawford. 

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