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JOE’S TAKE: CAN KHAN FINALLY DELIVER ON BIG STAGE? CRAWFORD VS KHAN PREVIEW, WEIGH IN RESULTS

CRAWFORD vs. KHAN will take place Saturday, April 20, beginning at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST at Madison Square Garden, and will be produced by Top Rank and ESPN and distributed live by ESPN Pay-Per-View.

Terrance Crawford 34 (25 KOs)-0-0 defends his WBO World Welterweight title against former unified Light Welterweight world champion Amir Khan 33 (20 KOs)-4 (3 KOs)-0 at Madison Square Garden New York City this Saturday broadcast by ESPN PPV and BT Sport Box Office in the UK.

When you ask a person who knows nothing about boxing what the best trait for a fighter to have is, what you are likely to get as an answer is punching power, others say speed and more will say cardio, but in truth mental strength is the one trait that truly no boxer can go without, but coming in second is another more subtle attribute, adaptability. Floyd Mayweather Jnr was so successful in the sport because of his ability to take away a fighter’s best asset down the stretch, very few fighters had success doing the same thing against Floyd for the whole 12. Think, Zab Judah, Marcos Maidana or Ricky Hatton, all had success, but once Floyd adjusted, he was always one step ahead.

In the truly modern game, the best example of this is Terrance Crawford, but unlike Adrien Broner who copied the older “Money” Mayweather style Crawford uses this adaptability with a more aggressive undertone and isn’t truly a back-foot fighter. The best asset of Crawford is that he is so well rounded, even Errol Spence Jnr while great and he obviously has skills, has limitations, and if the Crawford fight ever was made few could see Spence winning in three or four different ways, but that is exactly what Crawford offers.

Famously a switch hitter Crawford has operated mostly in a southpaw stance in his recent fights and doesn’t come out of the blocks fast. Crawford “downloads” his opponent’s style and only starts turning the heat up by about round three. What I can say though is that Crawford is no Paulie Malignaggi on the inside. Despite coming up from 135 and 140 pounds not too long ago he has the frame to make the weight and looks hardly like he’s rinsing the protein shakes to compete at 147. I would also say that Crawford has underrated power. He’s no Tommy Hearns, but he’s in the same league as an Errol Spence or a Shawn Porter and what also goes unnoticed is Crawford’s body attack.

One only needs to look at the Jose Benavidez Jnr or Jeff Horn fights to see that Crawford does go hard to the body, which then breaks down his opponents and from there with the reach advantage its only going to go one way. People do ask why Crawford isn’t a star like perhaps someone with his talent deserves, but if I were to put my finger on one reason, I’d say that Crawford is too good in a division with limited names that he can fight, at least if he is still signed to Top Rank. When people tune in for a Crawford fight they see Crawford taking limited punishment and cleaning out some guy they have never heard of in 6 or 7 rounds, definitely impressive, but seeing one fighter clearly being on a different level to the other just doesn’t draw the casual audience in, he lacks that vulnerability.

Amir Khan is a fighter who definitely doesn’t have any issue captivating an audience with his vulnerability. The Bolton man has had a rollercoaster of a career to say the least with almost every one of his fights going on someone’s highlight reel, Khan’s or otherwise. What is worth mentioning however is how the speed hasn’t quite got Khan out of trouble most recently. Khan’s speed is blistering but he seems most effective in the first two or three rounds. Canelo Alavrez proved that simple steps back as Khan is stepping in and prolonged attacks to the body do wear Khan down, and though the flurries are eye catching the power on them isn’t deadly. Khan’s chin problems are well known but what I think goes under the radar is his defence, it’s not a Brandon Rios defense, but since he doesn’t like working on the inside at all he uses a lot of lateral movement, and like Lara against Canelo this movement you can only keep up for so long.

To add to his woes although Khan seems to “do well against southpaws” I’d argue it’s more the style of these southpaws than the fact they were southpaws. Devon Alexander, Zab Judah and Luis Collazo aren’t exactly the biggest punchers at 147 are they, and none of them apply much in the way of pressure. Khan unlike Crawford doesn’t seem to adapt his style to the opponent for whatever reason be it: mentality, athleticism or ring IQ and that’s the main reason I’m picking the Nebraska fighter to win this fight relatively easily.

I don’t see Crawford just jumping in trying to swing with Khan because Crawford will know that Khan is most dangerous when he’s fresh and you’re not used to the speed. Crawford will wait but pressure ever so slightly to just gauge Khan’s tells and tendencies. When Crawford goes to the body, which I believe he will, Khan will begin to slow and despite his amazing speed, Khan does only know how to fight one way. Crawford will begin to time Khan’s double jab coming in with a counter right from the southpaw stance and really start busting up Khan in the exchanges by round 5. I see it going remarkably similar to the Gamboa fight where Khan gets outboxed and then out-muscled on the inside. I think it’ll be a show of skills for Crawford who will first download, adapt, box, and then bully the Brit forcing the ref to call it off in about round 7.

You have to respect Khan for taking the fight, but consistently stepping up and losing against top names isn’t enough to build a legacy, and Khan for all his talk finally needs to prove the doubters wrong and pull off a huge upset against someone who is potentially the number one pound for pound fighter in the sport.

On the undercard Teofimo Lopez 12 (10 KOs)-0-0 faces former world title challenger Edis Tatli 31 (10 KOs)-2 (0 KOs)-0 with Shakur Stevenson 10 (6 KOs)-0-0 and Felix Verdejo 244 (16 KOs)-1 (1 KO)-0 also on the bill in scheduled 10 rounders.

 

ESPN PPV (9 p.m. EST)

Terence Crawford 146.4 lbs vs. Amir Khan 146.6 lbs
(Crawford’s WBO Welterweight world title – 12 Rounds)

Teofimo Lopez 135 lbs vs. Edis Tatli 134.8 lbs
(Lopez’s NABF Lightweight title – 12 Rounds)

Shakur Stevenson 125.8 lbs vs. Christopher Diaz 125.6 lbs
(Stevenson’s IBF Intercontinental and vacant NABO Featherweight titles – 10 Rounds)

Felix Verdejo 135 lbs vs. Bryan Vasquez 135.4 lbs
(Lightweight – 10 Rounds)

ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes (6 p.m. EST)
 
• Carlos Adames 154 lbs vs. Frank Galarza 153.4 lbs
(Adames’ NABF and vacant NABO 154-pound titles – 10 Rounds)

• Edgar Berlanga 163.8 lbs vs. Samir Barbosa 160 lbs
(Middleweight – 8 Rounds)

• Larry Fryers 140 lbs vs. Dakota Polley 139.6 lbs
(Super Lightweight – 6/4 Rounds)

• Vikas Krishan 154.2 lbs vs. Noah Kidd 153.2 lbs
(Super Welterweight – 6 Rounds)

• Lawrence Newton 118.2 lbs vs. Jonathan Garza 119 lbs
(Bantamweight – 6 Rounds)

ABOUT CRAWFORD VS. KHAN

CRAWFORD vs. KHAN is a 12-round fight for the WBO welterweight championship of the world, presented by Top Rank in association with Matchroom Boxing and Khan Promotions. The event is sponsored by Geico. CRAWFORD vs. KHAN will take place Saturday, April 20, beginning at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST at Madison Square Garden, and will be produced by Top Rank and ESPN and distributed live by ESPN Pay-Per-View.

Tickets for this world championship event priced at $606, $406, $306, $206, $106, $81, and $56 (including facility fees) can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008) and online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.MSG.com.

For more information, visit: www.toprank.com, www.espn.com/boxing; Facebook:facebook.com/trboxing; Twitter: twitter.com/trboxing.

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