Canelo or Crawford? After The Smoke Clears…Who Is The #1 P4P Fighter In The World?
We’re a little over a month removed from a boxing schedule full of impactful and defining clashes. In fact, the entire fourth quarter of 2021 has given fight fans a showcase of some of the current best fighters in the world, most of which were featuredin significant career highlighting match-ups. No matter where you stand on the totem pole of opinionated theories and philosophical rhetoric’s in regard to the “Sweet Science”, allow me to funnel the pound for pound debate to the interchangeable top spot contenders who have been considered boxing’s best. Yes, that means Saul “Canelo Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) and Terence “Bud” Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs). Many media outlets and boxing content creators have often discussed this pound for pound subject. It is in fact a non-defined status where the criteria is 100% based on the preferences of the person who is compiling the list itself, but interestingly enough, in recent polls, Alvarez and Crawford’s status of number one and two have fluctuated over the past few years. If you had to make an argument between the two and who should be at the apex of the list, who would you side with?
For starters Canelo Alvarez is the face of modern boxing. Now this should be irrelevant because the pound for pound list omits a fighter’s popularity, however this attraction may factor in prospective opponents and has opened the possibility of big fights across promotional barriers. Canelo has this ability, and his resume shows this. Being the main attraction has allowed Alvarez to essentially choose his destiny from Super Middleweight up to Cruiserweight in the prime of his career. Both the differences in weight classes and styles of opponents have given us a chance to critique Alvarez’s progression and ability to adjust since losing to Floyd Mayweather in 2013. A debatable win against Erislandy Lara along with a draw and closely contested win over Gennady Golovkin has given us a slight peek of Alvarez under duress, but performances against Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev at Light Heavy Weight, and his recent crusade clearing out the Super Middleweight division and becoming the first Undisputed champion at that weight class has helped to solidify him as pound for pound best in the world in the opinions of some.
However, if you are able to plow the path of travel and dictate conditions and clauses that place you at an advantage to win, should this not be considered when determining who is the bestin the world? It is unknown to us if Canelo Alvarez has used his status to monopolize the terms and conditions of fights to his advantage, and we definitely will not speculate that here, but if seemingly “choosing the path of least resistance” was a crime especially with opponents like former WBC mandatory challenger Jermall Charlo and WBO Middleweight ChampionDemetrius Andrade apparently being ignored, would Alvarez be guilty of ducking? If you have Canelo at number one, is it unobjectionable?
Terence Crawford on the other hand presents another variable to the discussion. Style and versatility, patience and a mean streak or “switch” that gets triggered under duress. Arguably one of the most skilled boxers today, Crawford has had the parallel showcase of progression similar to Alvarez minus the name recognition of opponents. Crawford has in fact has unified the division south of Welterweight and has been undisputed champion at 140lbs. He continues to win in tremendous fashion with a streak of TKO’s which recently included the addition of a TKO victory over Shawn Porter. The ability to operate out of both fighting stances at will is a demonstration of ability beyond the norm and in some cases, this has elevated Crawford’s status at number pound for pound fighter for some. But has the lack of a “mega-fight” kept him out of the number one spot? Unlike Alvarez, Crawford has only been able to secure the fights that Top Rank has been able to land him. Currently a promotional free agent at the time of this article, maybe Crawford could land the anticipated showdown with Unified Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr., perhaps a victory in that fight would elevate or solidify Crawford on your list.
Both Canelo Alvarez and Terence Crawford gave us quality performances in November, mutually scoring impressionable TKO victories. Maybe our jobs as pundits, followers, and reporters of the sport should also include establishing a criterionof how we rank this imaginary list so we can have a more concise rating scale. But that’s the beauty in it. The differences in perspectives make this such a good debate. If you can argue Canelo being number one, you may easily be able to counter argue the same for Crawford over anyone else in your top ten and vice versa. If we were to solely base this on skill alone then what should that include? Strength, speed, footwork, ability to finish an opponent? All in all, the debate over who is number p4p will always be up in the air and will always be a mixed bag of opinions. One thing that will never be debated is the best should fight the best, that way it would be clear to us all who should be considered p4p number one.
By Donnell Haynes