WBO welterweight champion Terence "Bud" Crawford is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport today. He's a three-division world champion, and he's never lost a single professional prizefight.
The 33-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska, returns to the ring this Saturday to face former titleholder Kell Brook in an important 147-pound bout that could help set up huge superfights down the line for Crawford.
The champ sat down with Bleacher Report this week to chat about his big opportunity on ESPN, future potential showdowns against other top boxing superstars, and whether he'd really get inside the cage to fight Conor McGregor under MMA rules.
B/R: You're 36-0. You were lineal champ at lightweight and undisputed champ at junior welterweight. You're currently the WBO champion at 147 pounds. So tell me how you keep moving down on The Ring magazine's pound-for-pound list?
Crawford: I don't know. That's a question I can't answer...everybody's got their set of fighters that they give credit to or just enjoy watching more than others, so they give more credit to them. That's just the way it is.
B/R: You're one of the few professional boxers I've observed in the sport who seems angry when he fights. Is that how you feel when you fight? Why does it work for you?
Crawford: Nah, not all. I mean sometimes...sometimes I have mixed emotions, so I really can't say.
B/R: It looks like you're trying to prove your point or something when you fight. Or am I making all this up?
Crawford: Sometimes, it's that I'm proving a point. Sometimes it's that chip on my shoulder.
B/R: Why do you have a chip on your shoulder?
Crawford: It's just something I've been born with. All these things, me being the underdog, me being undersized, I always had to work extra hard to get the attention that I rightfully deserved.
B/R: Your next opponent, Kell Brook, is a former world champion. He beat Shawn Porter at 147 and has only lost two fights. He lost to Errol Spence Jr. at welterweight and Gennady Golovkin at middleweight. Still, all I've read about leading up to this fight with Brook is who you're not fighting. What's up with that?
Crawford: I don't know. A lot of people like to discredit me and create a narrative about my opponents, but if somebody else was fighting Kell Brook at this time right now, they'd get all the credit in the world for fighting him. He's coming off of three victories [in a row]. He's not injured. He's in the best shape of his life he said. We are prepared for a 110-percent Kell Brook come fight night.
B/R: You're one of the last boxing superstars of the HBO era, and now you're part of ESPN's boxing machine. How are things different today with ESPN than they were with HBO?
Crawford: It's a lot different. The whole thing is different, but at the same time, it's all the same [for me].
B/R: What about the reach of ESPN?
Crawford: ESPN is free and HBO was premium TV, so you got to think there's a whole lot more people who are going to be able to watch you in bars and whatnot rather than being on HBO. You don't see bars showing HBO that often, at least as often as they do for regular fights on ESPN.
B/R: Your promoter, Bob Arum, told Barbershop Conversations during a recent interview that he could foresee you leaving his company some day soon to move to Premier Boxing Champions. Is that something you could see yourself doing?
Crawford: Uh, I heard he said a comment like that, but I don't know. I don't know (laughs)... Yeah, I'm not focused on that.
B/R: If you could make any single fight happen next after Brook on Saturday, what would it be and why?
Crawford: Manny Pacquiao. Because that's the fight that I've been calling for over the past few years.
B/R: What will you do to make sure that fight happens?
Crawford: I just gotta win my fight, and we'll see what happens after that.
B/R: There's a viral video of you and unified welterweight champion Errol Spence agreeing to a $1 million bet if you two ever fight. Is that legit, though? Are you really going to bet a million dollars?
Crawford: Hey, look, me and that man know what it is. I ain't even got to talk about it.
B/R: What's it like seeing all the ads last weekend on the UFC card that helped promote your fight inside the boxing ring this weekend?
Crawford: It's cool, man. We're all in combat sports, and I'm pretty sure that we're all supporting each other at the end of the day. It's a lot of UFC fighters that want to get into boxing being that I believe it's a safer sport and it pays more.
B/R: Arum revealed earlier this year to ESPN that he'd like to see you sign a two-fight deal with UFC superstar Conor McGregor. He said you could fight him once in a boxing ring and again in the Octagon under UFC rules. Is that something you'd seriously consider doing?
Crawford: Of course. Why wouldn't I?
B/R: You'd get in the Octagon and fight McGregor under MMA rules? Like, for real?
Crawford: Yeah, I would.
Crawford vs. Brook takes place on Saturday, November 14. The main card will be televised live in the United States on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET. The undercard fights begin at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
Kelsey McCarson covers combat sports for B/R and Heavy.