Crawford might be too dangerous for Pacquiao
MANILA, Philippines - Sugar Ray Leonard, one of boxing’s best fighters of all-time, came out of retirement in 1997 to fight Hector “Macho” Camacho in a middleweight fight.
Leonard had retired and returned to the ring several times before. The allure of getting up on that ring once again pulled him out, this time 6 years after his previous retirement. Camacho, on the other hand, was still very active despite already being 35 years old, and was still regarded as a deadly opponent.
Still, Leonard believed he could beat Camacho and against everyone’s advice he pushed for the bout.
“The Macho Man” made the legendary Leonard look every bit of age 40, scoring a technical knockout in the fifth round. It It was the kind of beating that many thought was not deserved by a fighter of his stature.
Alas, this is common amongst boxers. We have seen a lot of them refusing to retire even when it was the obvious logical choice. We have also seen many of them keep coming back after retiring. Even the best of them succumb to the calling. Larry Holmes, Alexis Arguello and Felix Trinidad did not seem to know when to hang up their gloves permanently. Even the greatest Muhammad Ali needed to experience a whipping to truly call it quits.
Pacquiao has nothing else to prove
After the fight with Mayweather, the calls for Pacquiao to retire became louder. Many believed that even after the controversial loss, the fighting congressman does not have anything else to prove. Furthermore, there does not seem to be any worthy challenger. It was time to retire, many said, while he was ahead.
Confirming that his right shoulder has healed, Pacquiao just recently announced that he was ready to fight again in April 2016. He also said that this was going to be his last fight as he expects to win in the elections in May and has committed to fulfill his senatorial duties full time.
The names of Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez - both former Pacquiao opponents - and Amir Khan are again part of the list. Although a rematch with the retired Floyd Mayweather has been mentioned, it is highly improbable. These names don’t seem to ignite a lot of interest because clearly Pacquiao has shown that he is capable of winning against any of them.
Crawford - dangerous and hungry
A new name however has been thrown into the mix. Current WBO junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford is looking to be an attractive prospect.
Crawford is undefeated at 27-0 (19 knockouts). He boasts of a 70% knockout ratio. Fourteen of these KOs were scored in under 4 rounds. He now fights in the 140 pound division, just one weight division lower than Pacquiao.
If and when they meet, Crawford will come in with a two inch height and 3 inch reach advantage. He is 8 years younger than Pacquiao at 36, and if we have to judge by the way he is fighting, much hungrier.
Crawford wrested the WBO title from Thomas Dulorme early this year with a TKO win. He immediately followed that up last Oct 24, disposing of Dierry Jean with a tenth round TKO.
Both fighters only had one loss before they fought Crawford. Crawford out boxed both men and showcased his power, underscoring how complete a boxer he is developing into.
In July of 2014, he stepped into the ring against the then undefeated Yuriorkis Gamboa. Gamboa was an elite fighter who has power in his punches as well as very fundamental boxing sense. He was a fast rising star and was expected to give Crawford problems. Gamboa hit the canvas several times and had to succumb to the Crawford onslaught until the referee stepped in in the ninth.
Even after all these wins, Crawford still has doubters. Some say he is one dimensional. Some say that he has not been truly tested. Talks compare him to Chris Algieri, saying that if he does meet Pacquiao, Crawford will meet the same fate as Algieri.
There is another group of people who think otherwise. This group considers Crawford as a dangerous opponent to Pacquiao (56-6-2, 38 KOs). Just recently, Freddie Roach shared his concern about Crawford. He regards him as one of those young fighters that might prove too be too hungry for Pacquiao.
It's a concern that is not unfounded.
The retiring champion and the young turk
By himself, Pacquiao remains a superb athlete He still is one of the fastest, strongest and most agile boxers today. However, he is already 36 years old and the variable of age is bound to manifest soon. Something only a person really close to Pacquiao, like Roach can spot immediately.
On the other hand, Crawford’s style is distinctive. Although he is listed down as an orthodox fighter, he has fought many times as a southpaw. In fact, he seems to have the uncanny capability of switching from right to left during flurries and immediately transforming each shot into powerful crosses rather than jabs.
He tees off from a wide stance allowing him additional power as he pivots to connect with either hand. He does not have a lot of leg movement but his constant shoulder fakes and feints have allowed him to set up good angles for well- timed uppercuts and hooks.
To top it all off, evidently Crawford can hurt his opponent with one punch.
All these variables are not unknown to Roach.
Pacquiao’s last fight
Top Rank has already announced April 9, 2016 as the date of the Filipino’s next and probably last professional fight. Of course, everyone wants this to be historical, one that should provide Pacquiao the opportunity to bid boxing in a way fit for someone who helped resurrect it.
Bob Arum said that it will be Pacquiao’s choice. Will he choose someone familiar like Bradley, Marquez or Mayweather, or will he take the risk against the young and hungry Terence Crawford?
Pacquiao is too much an asset to boxing to risk being beaten to a pulp much like Leonard. Only he and Freddie truly know what he is still capable. We hope he chooses well. – Rappler.com
Mike Ochosa is President of Viva Sports Management Inc. He is a boxing analyst and has called many Pacquiao fights from ringside. Follow him on Twitter: @mikeochosa and on his You Tube Channel: Sports Note with Coach Mike Ochosa.