WBO welterweight champion Terence "Bud" Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) makes his 2019 debut on Saturday, putting his title on the line against Amir Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Crawford, 31, is considered one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the sport, if not the best. This is his third fight at welterweight, arguably boxing's most talent-laden division, and the one in which he aims to stake his claim as an all-time great. He ran out of opponents in the lightweight and junior welterweight ranks, unifying all four major titles in the latter division in 2017.
Known for his elite hand speed, Khan is a former world titleholder at light welterweight, and he has been a top contender at welterweight as well.
Before he had a chance to win a world title at 147 pounds, he moved up to middleweight to challenge Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in 2016, a fight that saw him knocked out in devastating fashion in the sixth round.
After nearly two years away from the sport, the ever-popular Khan returned in 2018 to beat two opponents to set up a date with Crawford.
For Crawford, it's a chance to bring his impeccable craft to a much wider audience. For Khan, it's an opportunity to breathe new life into his career.
Crawford vs. Khan Fight Info
When: Saturday, Apr. 20 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York City
Live Stream: FITE.TV ($69.99)
TV: Cable/satellite providers or ESPN Pay Per View, BT Sport Box Office (UK, pay-per-view)
Odds: Crawford -1,200 ( bet $1,200 to win $100), Khan +900 (bet $100 to win $900)
Crawford might lack the wider name recognition of a pay-per-view star, but he has the talent. A complete fighter, the Omaha, Nebraska, native has power in both hands, impeccable footwork—he can box out of both stances but favors southpaw these days—and is masterful at disrupting his opponent's rhythm and timing.
He tends to starts out slow, but what he's doing is gathering information, figuring out his opponent's strategy, tactics and what punches they want to establish. Once he has the other boxer figured out, he pummels them into submission.
Last time out, against Jose Benavidez Jr. in October, was a good example of what Bud tends to do. He steadily ramped up the pressure against his opponent, picking him apart before finishing him off in the 12th round, as Top Rank Boxing shared:
If a fighter is overmatched, Crawford won't waste his time. He knocked out Julius Indongo in the third round of their 2017 junior welterweight unification bout.
If you want more proof of his ability to vanquish fighters of any style and background, you can watch him dissect the slick, speedy Yuriorkis Gamboa in 2014 or overwhelm the lanky, crafty Viktor Postol in 2016.
Crawford credits his chameleon-like skills in the ring to both nature and nurture, per ESPN.com's Steve Kim and Anthony Olivieri:
"I was naturally gifted with an ability to move, but my coaches brought it out of me as an amateur. The power came a bit later. A complete fighter can fight going forward or backward, counter, move well and take a punch. I put in a lot of work to learn multiple styles."
Khan is far removed from his glory days, when he was beating up on the likes of Zab Judah and Marcos Maidana at junior welterweight. Back-to-back losses to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia derailed his run at 140 pounds, leading to him to move up to 147 pounds.
The 32-year-old found some success there, winning the WBA international welterweight title and the WBC Silver welterweight strap, but it all went out the window when he lost to Alvarez.
Khan's speed has always given fighters trouble. Alvarez was not immune to this, with the Englishman buzzing him for a few rounds and making life difficult. Once Canelo locked in, his size and strength advantage took over, though, leading to one of the cleanest knockouts you will ever see.
That led to some time away from the sport, but Khan has come back with a vengeance. He destroyed Phil Lo Greco last year in his return bout, beating him in 39 seconds. He then dominated Samuel Vargas in September, winning by unanimous decision despite suffering an early knockdown.
And Khan's chin will likely lead to his demise on Saturday. He clearly still has plenty left in the tank, but his body just might not be capable of holding up over 12 rounds. Three of his four career losses have come by knockout.
Crawford is plenty powerful and a better puncher than the vast majority of Khan's opponents. If he can survive the Brit's early pace and aggression, a knockout win is a distinct possibility here.
That said, Khan is convinced he can pull off the upset, as Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole shared:
"For those people, and even Crawford if he's thinking this way, that are thinking it's going to be an easy fight for him because they're taking me from the last fight against Vargas, I think I'm going to shock the world, definitely. If they're thinking I'm going to be the same fighter as that fight, they'll be in for a big shock."
If Khan wins, he can have just about any fight he wants at 147 pounds A loss, and his best bet at a final big payday would be making a fight against Kell Brook, a match British fans have wanted to see for a long time. There's no shame in losing to Crawford, assuming there's no particularly grisly knockout defeat.
As for Crawford, a win will likely force him to fight one of the other champions at welterweight. Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman and perhaps the best of the bunch, Errol Spence Jr., would all make for event television.
This is the next logical step for Crawford, the only real criticism of whom is the lack of big-name opponents on his ledger. Fixing that problem starts with beating Khan on Saturday.
Odds according to Oddschecker and updated as of Thursday, Apr. 18 at 7 a.m. ET.