Terence Crawford is an outstanding talent. If we are to believe the praises of people like boxing writer and HBO consultant Thomas Hauser, the 28-year-old from Nebraska is a “complete fighter” with some really intriguing fights ahead of him.
Having witnessed him fight twice from ringside, where subtle nuances of the sport such as balance and footwork reveal themselves more than they can on television, I can tell you Crawford, to me, is as smooth a fighter, as natural a boxer and as hungry a competitor as they come.
And having watched all of his HBO appearances via television (where I assure you, one can see much more, and in greater detail, than what we at ringside, and the judges for that matter, see in person), I can assure you Crawford would be a legitimate favorite over any other junior welterweight fighter in the world today.
Heck, Josh Katzowitz, who contributes to the online business magazine Forbes.com, goes so far as to suggest Crawford is the best bet to take over boxing’s most coveted position in the wake of longtime pay-per-view king Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s retirement last year: lead moneymaking superstar.
In short, he's special.
"I wouldn't be in this sport if I didn't think I was the best," Crawford said via press release. "If you don't think that you are the best then you are in the wrong sport. I feel like I am one of the guys that will put boxing on my back and carry the sport."
So, um, why the heck is he facing Hank Lundy next?
Let’s get one thing straight right away: Lundy is an above-average, fun-to-watch professional who is as rough and tough inside the ring as he is gruff and grumble outside of it. Maybe it’s just the Philadelphia in him, but where Crawford lacks the charisma of a showman like Mayweather, the kind that draws folks in like moths to a flame, Lundy has the stuff in spades.
But charisma isn’t everything. It certainly doesn’t win fights, and while Lundy is skilled and accomplished enough to be a fighter featured regularly on television, he is by no means, beyond a lucky punch, a threat to defeat Crawford on Saturday night.
The 32-year-old is already on the downward slope of his career. He’s 1-2 in his last three fights, 4-4 in his last eight, and none of those wins were over notable opposition.
To be entirely fair to Lundy, he’s been in some really close fights. He’s the scrappy, determined kind of fighter who can make any decent boxer really work for a win. But as my grandfather used to say, close only matters in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Boxing is neither of those things, and while Lundy might be able to achieve moral victories against the likes of Thomas Dulorme, who Crawford demolished in short and brutal order, and the light-hitting mover Mauricio Herrera, whose primary asset is ring generalship, there’s no way Lundy can be all that competitive against someone as good as Crawford.
To put it bluntly, we’ve already seen this fight. Twice.
Crawford, who after moving up from lightweight where he was crowned the lineal champion, already has two fights under his belt at junior welterweight. And while bouts against the likes of a talented but hopelessly lost Dulorme, and an outgunned and outclassed Dierry Jean, could be excused away as testing the junior welterweight waters, the Lundy fight is nothing more than a pointless stay-busy date for a fighter with unlimited potential who deserves much better.
And so do we.
Crawford-Lundy is such a boring and pointless fight that even Crawford’s promoters over at Top Rank seem lackadaisical about promoting it. In fact, the main focus of a recent press release has absolutely nothing to do with the fight itself at all. Instead, the emphasis that made its way to my inbox is on the venue of the fight and the chief undercard attraction:
TERENCE CRAWFORD and FELIX VERDEJO TO MAKE THEIR 2016 DEBUTS IN TITLE DEFENSES AT THE GARDEN!
Undefeated superstar champions TERENCE "Bud" CRAWFORD and FELIX "El Diamante" VERDEJO will make their 2016 debuts in title defenses, Next Saturday! February 27, at the "Mecca of Boxing" -- The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Talk about burying the lede.
And it’s even more frustrating if you think about who Crawford could be fighting. Yes, according to Top Rank’s Carl Moretti, he badly wanted that Manny Pacquiao welterweight fight in April, the one that Tim Bradley secured instead.
But what about the top contenders in Crawford’s own weight class, 140 pounds? Is there a more intriguing fight Top Rank could make right now between promotional stablemates than Crawford versus Viktor Postol? Was Lucas Matthysse, Ruslan Provodnikov and/or Jessie Vargas unavailable?
Just because one missed out on a Pacquiao fight doesn’t mean he should be doomed to face Hammerin’ Hank Lundy.
For argument’s sake, let’s just say Lundy was the only viable option. Yes, that despite the lure of a nice purse on the one television network every single fighter in the world would kill to appear on, Lundy was the only guy Crawford’s team could find who wanted to fight.
According to ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael, that was the case—at least partially. Rafael reports Ruslan Provodnikov, Viktor Postol, Lucas Matthysse and Mauricio Herrera all turned down proposed bouts against Crawford. Rafael, it should be noted, is the premier boxing journalist in the world today. But with the information attributed to no one in particular, one is left to wonder from whom the information was obtained.
Did it come from people in the fighters’ camps? Or was it someone from Crawford’s side—manager, promoter or otherwise—trying to make a Lundy bout more palatable?
Ponder this: How likely is it that Crawford-Lundy is the very best possible fight that could be made, particularly with HBO and Top Rank behind it?
Or how about this? Name the top 10 junior welterweights in the world. Is Lundy on your list? Is he top-15?
Wherever he lands, reason dictates there should be at least six or seven other fighters, if not many more, ahead of him. Not all of them were named in Rafael’s report. Were they all unavailable, too?
And if they were, would there be any shame in simply waiting a month or two for a better option than Lundy to become available? Maybe someone whose last fight wasn't against a fighter with a record of 23-21-1?
Look, I know people in boxing say that staying busy is better than not fighting at all. The perfect example of such is the recent career of Gennady Golovkin. The monster of the middleweight division keeps fighting retreads and never-weres and he keeps knocking them out.
And everyone applauds him for it.
But there is a sense, at least among some, that Golovkin’s fate is one dictated by the general unwillingness of top middleweights to face him. He’s too scary. He’s too good.
That might only be clever marketing, a deepening of a well-planned story-telling structure constructed to sell a fighter to the most fans possible. After all, HBO loves doing that stuff, and it is the best at it.
But even if is all just clever marketing, at least Golovkin’s promoters, particularly Tom Loeffler, do such an outstanding job of convincing people that it’s true that there’s a sense Golovkin is moving forward and up in his career no matter how many bad fights he takes.
Despite probably having a higher ceiling than Golovkin, who is considered by some one of the best middleweights ever, there is no sense of this with Crawford. His career, at a time when it should be taking off like a rocket ship, already seems stagnant and old. It should be a jet-propelled flying machine. Instead, it's a rickshaw.
Every time they are on the air, it seems HBO commentators like Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman tell us how great Crawford is. Isn’t it about time we actually got to see it? Or at least a little more of it than we have so far?
I hope so, and while I respect both Crawford and Lundy as courageous men who ply their trade with dignity and integrity, while I do consider HBO and Top Rank the best at what they do, and while I want boxing to grow in popularity among mainstream sports fans, I can’t bring myself to the point of buying into Crawford-Lundy as anything other than a huge waste of time.
We already know Crawford is better than Lundy. He’s bigger. He’s faster. He’s more skilled. He has all the advantages going into the fight. Other than the inherent joy that comes with witnessing excellence outclass the inferior, what’s the point of watching?
I’d rather not have to ask such questions.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and information was obtained firsthand.