The only thing keeping Terence Crawford from greatness is opportunity

WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford’s fourth-round TKO of Kell Brook on Saturday night was impressive. The problem is that people who didn’t have him as the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter prior to the bout likely won’t put him there after it. 

And there’s really nothing he can do about it because it’s out of his hands. 

MORE: Crawford says he wants Pacquiao next

The 33-year-old champion improved to 37-0 with 28 knockouts as a professional in stopping Brook. Although he disposed of Brook faster than Gennadiy Golovkin (fifth round) and welterweight rival Errol Spence Jr. (11th round) did, the skeptics will say he defeated an opponent who was little more than damaged goods.

That’s unfortunate because Brook remains an incredibly skilled fighter who was stopped by an opponent who is superior in almost every way. But in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of boxing, Crawford simply isn’t able to do anything to improve his status at present. The only thing he can hope for is that Canelo Alvarez — who many believe is the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport — has a misstep once he decides to return to the ring.

It really shouldn’t be this way for Crawford. The 147-pound division is bubbling over with competition. If it isn’t unified champion Spence, then it’s former champions Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia. Of course, there’s also Manny Pacquiao, but he’s likely more in line for a big-money fight than one he could potentially lose against Crawford. But the fact remains that the five names mentioned are better than Brook, Jose Benavidez Jr., Jeff Horn, Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Amir Khan.

There’s really nothing left for Crawford to do under the Top Rank promotional umbrella. It is now up to Bob Arum to get the fights that Crawford wants or else let him go. The latter is highly unlikely because Arum simply cannot watch one of the best fighters in the world leave his stable. Considering that he has done business before with Premier Boxing Champions, the promotional outfit that houses Spence, Porter, Thurman and Garcia, it really shouldn’t be that difficult to set Crawford up for the major pay-per-view event that he deserves. 

And he undoubtedly deserves the opportunity, because that is the only thing preventing him from sitting on top of the mountain as the best fighter in the world. 

It’s not as if Crawford has a weight class problem that prevents him from fighting the biggest names in the sport. Porter, Spence, Garcia and Thurman have all had a place in the fictional pound-for-pound rankings at some point and all of them reside in the same division that Crawford does. It really shouldn’t be that difficult to make fights. Situations such as this one can ruin boxing. 

Boxing fans, casual and hardcore, do not care to hear about boxing politics. When Crawford was asked during his postfight interview who he wanted to fight next, he looked at Arum to answer the questions. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to answer; it’s because he’s relatively powerless in these negotiations. All he can do is say who he wants to fight, and then it’s up to Arum and the rival promoter to negotiate terms. And if PBC has been attempting to keep all the money in the same house, then it will run out of options once Spence faces Garcia on Dec. 5. With the exception of Spence vs. Thurman, those four all will have fought one another. 

Sooner or later, the best fighter in the world has to be determined. And, to be clear, Crawford is currently recognized as better than all of PBC’s welterweights. Why wouldn’t the sport want to finally sort this out and have an undisputed champion?

Boxing is silly in that way. Politics often come before pugilism; debates over who the A-side should be can prevent a fight from happening. But Arum and Al Haymon’s PBC have done good business before. Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder engaged in a pair of lucrative fights and everyone appeared to be happy once all was said and done. 

The main talking point on ESPN on Saturday was that “time was running out” on Crawford’s career. Sure, he’s only 33, but most fighters on his level fight no more than twice a year, which doesn’t allow them much room to sit around and wait. More than enough time has been lost because of COVID-19 and boxing is in need of marquee fights. 

Canelo has the best portfolio of names pursuing him in all of boxing; Crawford desperately needs his own marquee name to push him over the edge. He’s already set for the Boxing Hall of Fame and he already believes he’s the best in the world. The only thing that’s left is to prove it. 

There’s no reason for this not to happen. Unless these promoters just want boxing to dig its own grave and bury itself after a self-inflicted wound. 

Crawford against any top welterweight is what’s best for boxing and it needs to happen.

Not now, but right now.

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