Terence Crawford: Is 'Bud' the most avoided fighter in boxing?
"Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far" - President Teddy Roosevelt, 1900
What most people characterize as President Roosevelt's ideology for US foreign policy actually stems from an older West African proverb. It's an ideology to which WBO Welterweight champion Terence Crawford heavily subscribes. But to many boxing pundits, the time-tested adage doesn't necessarily apply to a successful boxer's career.
In the minds of most within the boxing community, a certain amount of self-promotion is a healthy and imperative part of nurturing any prizefighter's brand.
The proud WBO Welterweight champion explains why he would rather not speak on his own accord to media members who often have their own agendas.
"I don't trust a lot of people," admitted the Omaha, Nebraska native in a recent interview with ESPN. "They try to switch the narrative around and make it something that it's not. Make it sound like you said this when you didn't say that."
"Why can't I just be chill?"
"I'm the type of person that I'm all about that action...I'm not all about the talking. I don't care about what the fans say...I don't care about what the media says. I know what's in me. I know what I can do, and I know what I'm capable of."
Easily considered by most as one of the best fighters on the planet, the 32-year-old technician seems to be continually fighting for respect. Respect from whom?
The fans, the media, and pretty much anyone who has seemingly formulated the wrong opinion of the admittedly soft-spoken champion.
The three-division world champion has passed every major test put in front of him since turning pro 11 years ago. Crawford possesses a stellar record of 34 wins, 0 losses with 26 victories coming by way of knock-out. He's an undefeated, switch-hitting badass who often doesn't get recognized when discussing the best potential match-ups at 147 pounds.
The humble Omaha, Nebraska resident dubbed 'Bud' is at the top of most fans' and media members' P4P lists. He's one of the biggest domestic draws in the US, yet consistently gets unfairly criticized as being less marketable than other Welterweights like Errol Spence Jr, Danny Garcia, and Keith Thurman.
Once again why? Because he likes to let his fists do his talking for him, and doesn't figuratively "beat his chest" as do many other fighters?
That's why every successful prizefighter works with a capable promotional team...so he doesn't have to talk and can focus on honing his craft.
Probably a bit closer to the truth is that he's just too good for his own good. Although TC is a solid ticket-seller, consistently selling out venues in and around his home area in Middle-America, he's still viewed as being "more risk than reward" by most boxing promoters, managers, matchmakers, and advisers.
The logic of the boxing business dictates, "why fight him if you don't have to?"
But what fight fans want to know is, "why don't they have to"?
Lately, Terence has been asking this same question to anyone who is willing to listen.
Although Bud's career has been thoughtfully nurtured by Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, receiving many great opportunities through the well-oiled machine that is Top Rank, Inc, TC feels that his career has hit somewhat of a brick wall while campaigning at 147 pounds.
It's not Crawford's fault. According to the P4P fighter, he desperately wants to fight the biggest and best names of the Welterweight division.
Let's take a closer look at the Welterweight division's current top ten list, according to Ringtv.com:
1) Errol Spence Jr. (IBF and WBC champion) - 26-0-0, with 21 KOs
2) Terence Crawford (WBO champion) - 34-0-0, with 26 KOs
3) Manny Pacquiao (WBA champion) - 62-7-2, with 39 KOs
4) Keith Thurman - 29-1-0, 22 KOs
5) Shawn Porter - 30-3-1, 17 KOs
6) Danny Garcia - 35-2-0, 21 KOs
7) Yordenis Ugas - 24-4-0, 11 KOs
8) Egidijus Kavaliauskas - 21-0-1, 17 KOs
9) Kudratillo Abdukakhorov - 17-0-0, 9 KOs
10) Sergey Lipinets - 16-1-0, 12 KOs
Crawford, Abdukakhorov, and Kavaliauskas are promoted by Bob Arum and Top Rank, Inc...the other 7 fighters rated in the top ten are currently handled by Al Haymon and ostensibly fight exclusively for PBC against other "Haymon" fighters, making it virtually impossible to unify the competitive Welterweight division.
TC genuinely doesn't understand why specific promotional groups can't work together to make the biggest fights happen.
"At the end of the day, they (promoters, advisers, managers and matchmakers) work for you. I'm the fighter," exclaimed Terence Crawford to Andre Ward of ESPN. "If I don't fight, they don't get paid. They might say, 'it's not the right time,' or this and that...the money's going to be there, just go get me that fight."
Ultimately, Terence is and always will be a fighter. He understands that the fault doesn't lie within any stable of fighters...he knows fighters just want to fight and don't "fear" any other combatant in the ring. He truly believes certain athletes who compete under a rival promotional banner are being coached to say and act a specific way that isn't conducive for a healthy, competitive and fair sport.
"They (potential 147-pound opponents) can't say my name...that's when I get frustrated. It's like somebody's coaching them saying, 'don't mention him'. It's like, 'don't recognize him as a champion.' So that's when I get frustrated, and so it feeds me more to go in there and knock them off."
"That's why I want the fight so bad...I want to prove to all the doubters. When I get a title, it's like, 'he's not fighting anybody.' They're pushing that down...that I'm fighting bums. They're not looking at the fact that Jeff Horn was undefeated, Benavidez was undefeated...I'm not picking guys like, oh I don't want to fight tall guys, or I don't want to fight southpaws, or I don't want to fight slick fighters, or I don't want to fight brawlers. I'm taking them as they come, and I'm knocking them off."
"I unified the 140-pound weight class...I just want the chance to unify at 147 too."
The unbeaten champ will be defending his WBO title against mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) of Lithuania, a fellow Top Rank fighter, this Saturday night on ESPN. Because most media members and fight fans aren't familiar with his opponent's impressive professional or amateur career, the reigning champ doesn't feel the dangerous match-up is getting enough attention from the great majority of the boxing community.
"This guy that I'm about to fight right now...my mandatory. Everybody's sh**ing on him in the media. Why? Because they don't know anything about boxing. They say, 'oh, he's a bum.' How can you be a two-time Olympian and be a bum?"
The "Mean Machine" is one of the hardest punchers of the Welterweight division and has knock-out power in both hands. And because the proud Lithuanian fighter possesses a deep amateur pedigree, he's seen virtually every potential style in the ring. "Egis" is a very dangerous opponent for anyone at 147 pounds...including Terence Crawford.
The current champ insists he's not taking this murderous puncher lightly.
"I'm fighting my number one mandatory challenger," TC stated at a recent media workout. "So I wouldn't dare call this a tune-up fight. He earned his position to fight me. I would never disrespect someone by thinking of him as a stay busy fight or tune-up fight. I have to be ready for everything in the ring and give it 110%."
"I'll never take any opponent lightly or take anything I have for granted. I know I have to be mentally and physically prepared for anything and everything."
On February 22nd, Bob Arum will finally be working with Al Haymon in promoting "Wilder vs. Fury 2". Could this be a sign of great things to come for the convoluted mess that is the Welterweight division? Will fight fans finally see a unification of champions at 147 pounds?
Reality will be revealed in 2020.