Manny Pacquiao vs. Terence Crawford: A Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Guess who's back/Back again
Manny's back/Tell a friend
OK, perhaps channeling early-2000s Eminem isn't a traditional way to announce a fight.
Regardless, the pertinent elements are these: Crawford, the WBO champion at 147 pounds since mid-2018, is being discussed as an opponent for Pacquiao, who's not fought since wresting the WBA's top-tier welterweight title from Keith Thurman by split decision in July 2019.
The would-be fight is targeted for June 5 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Crawford, 33, is ranked second in the division by The Ring, one slot ahead of Filipino legend Pacquiao, 42, who turned pro when his modern-day Nebraska-bred contemporary was 7 years old.
It'll be a fascinating match if it happens, and the B/R combat sports team took a head-to-toe look at each principal as an early primer for a late-spring extravaganza.
Take a look at what we came up with and drop a thought or two of your own in the comments.
What You Need to Know
What: Manny Pacquiao vs. Terence Crawford
Where: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
When: June 5
What's At Stake: Presuming it actually happens, it'll be for the WBO welterweight championship at the very least. Alongside that, it's a chance for Pacquiao to add another victorious layer to a remarkable career or for Crawford to bag his highest-profile quarry since he turned pro in 2008.
Manny Pacquiao's Tale of the Tape
Nickname: "Pac Man"
Record: 62-7-2, 39 KOs
Height: 5'5 1/2"
Weight: 145.5 pounds*
All stats per BoxRec.com.
*Official weight at last fight in 2019.
Terence Crawford's Tale of the Tape
Record: 37-0, 28 KOs
Weight: 146.25 pounds*
All stats per BoxRec.com.
*Official weight at last fight in 2020.
Though neither man mirrors Ray Leonard, both have effective approaches.
Pacquiao has made a career of nimble footwork and fast, heavy hands, using them to overwhelm opponents with sheer volume and tenacity. He's incorporated more guile and ring intelligence as he's gotten older and heavier, picking the spots for his outbursts rather than going 100 mph for 36 minutes.
Meanwhile, Crawford's signature weapon is his ability to seamlessly and strategically transition between southpaw and orthodox, doing it as well as anyone since Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
He utilizes minimal lateral movement at long range but has the speed to make opponents miss and put himself in position to counterattack. In terms of work rate, he's consistent with the jab in between occasional flurries of hooks and intermittent reset periods, keeping things basic but doing them exceedingly well.
Both are superstars whose skill sets trump 99.9 percent of possible opponents. It's a little tougher to split hairs when they're matched head to head, but we'll favor the younger man's sublime maneuvering here.
Believe it or not, Crawford's career KO rate is far superior to Pacquiao's.
The reigning WBO champ has stopped more than 75 percent of his opponents (28) across 37 fights, while Pacquiao has "only" stopped 39 of the 62 victims on his ridiculously deep resume.
Still, if you're asked which fighter is the power puncher, there's a great chance you'll say the older one.
Though he's scored just one KO since the arrival of 2010, Pacquiao still can rattle world-class 147-pounders, as he proved by dropping Thurman in their 2019 match, leveling Lucas Matthysse three times in 2018 and sending both Jessie Vargas and Timothy Bradley to the mat in their fights in 2016.
All have come since he pursued, but never quite caught, Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their 2015 superfight to end all superfights.
On the other hand, Crawford has done a much better job ending fights before their scheduled distances, stopping 12 of 15 title-bout foes at 135, 140 and 147 pounds. Still, his finishes are much more the product of attrition than pure power, as evidenced by an average of nearly eight rounds per KO.
Power makes highlights.
Defense wins, or at the very least preserves, championships.
And in the case of Pacquiao and Crawford, it's fascinating to see how the evolution of their respective fighting styles over the years has altered the emphasis on protecting themselves at all times.
As a younger man, Pacquiao was driven by the "best defense is a good offense" mantra, willingly engaging in firefights to get into range to land fight-ending shots. It was a winning strategy nearly every time out, but one that fell flat, literally, when he met a fighter able to stay in the pocket to deliver counters.
His defense improved greatly after a terrifying KO by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, thanks to improvements in footwork, recognition of proper angles and an increased ability to block and parry with his arms and hands. He no longer overcommits on offense, which keeps his feet in the right spots and allows him to step back from opponents to stay outside of power-punching range.
Crawford has ebbed in the opposite direction, gradually eschewing an early tendency to use his legs to instead become more comfortable with life in the pocket. Confidence in his chin and power have landed him in more prolonged give-and-take situations, where he willingly sacrifices defense for offense.
He's been visibly dinged-up in several recent fights, including an unofficial knockdown by Egidijus Kavaliauskas but has yet to face a welterweight with Pacquiao's offensive pedigree.
In fact, no less an authority than Ray Mancini, himself a former lightweight champion, told Bleacher Report the Filipino's downing of Thurman could provide precedent here.
"He's never fought anyone like Manny," Mancini said. "Crawford's strong but not stronger than Thurman, and Manny handled him just fine."
Manny Pacquiao's X-Factor: 42-Year-Olds Are, Well...42
Yes, he's had a run that's the envy of nearly everyone who's ever laced gloves.
And yes, in his last fight he took on, and took down, a foe born over a decade later.
But as impressive as it was, that win over Thurman will be nearly two years old by the time this fight is set to take place. And it's not often that fighters of Pacquiao's vintage are simply able to shake off the rust and perform as if they've been doing it all along.
It's the longest layoff of his career, and it'll be a giant question mark when the bell rings.
Terence Crawford's X-Factor: Welcome to the Big Time, Bud
Let's not kid anyone. Crawford is a hugely successful fighter who's earned every bit of the pound-for-pound adulation he receives from nearly everyone who assembles such lists.
But as good as he's been, he's never had the mega-event treatment.
He's aimed for it. He's pined for it. And the resume he's built no doubt deserves it.
Still, until he actually lives it—appearing at a frenzied press conference, running the pre-fight media gauntlet, preparing under a microscope, the intensity of which he's never felt—there's no guarantee how he'll react.
Lotsa stuff to digest here.
But the prediction mandate remains: Don't overthink it.
As great as he's long been and as youthful as he appeared while downing Thurman the last time around, the guy Pacquiao will be facing is better than anyone he's stepped in with since Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015.
And we all know how that one turned out.
Crawford is younger, stronger, hungrier and meaner than Mayweather, and he'll likely be unsatisfied with simply shoulder-rolling and pot-shotting his way to a 12-round boxing lesson.
In other words, unless a resident legend finds a way to lift his game to heretofore uncharted heights, it could get ugly and violent.
"Egregious mismatch," Jim Lampley, who called several of both men's fights on HBO, told Bleacher Report. "Crawford could beat him from either stance. Especially left handed. Pacquiao at peak—vs. [Marco Antonio] Barrera in San Antonio [in 2003]—would be a logical favorite. But that was decades ago."
Randy Gordon, former chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, agreed.
"They should open a special wing for Pacquiao (at the Hall of Fame)," he told Bleacher Report. "But you can only fight Father Time for so long. It's hard to visualize Pac Man beating both Father Time and Terence Crawford on the same night."
It's hard to argue with that kind of logic, particularly from that level of expertise.
So we won't.
Prediction: Crawford stops Pacquiao in the 10th round.