Terence Crawford Is The New Marvin Hagler

Terence Crawford is a generational great, we all know that, but let’s deeper add context to these words. 

Crawford is a unified world champion at lightweight, won every major world title in the 140 lbs division before moving to welterweight and winning a world title in his first bout at the welterweight division. On top of that success, Crawford holds 11 knockouts in his last 12 fights, an impressive feat at the highest level of the sport. 

So let’s get to the clickbait-type stuff of this article.

How do you we often look back on Marvin Hagler?

Often we look at words like avoided, or even say that he emerged from nowhere, having to win a title overseas. Hagler felt wronged in his draw with Vito Antuofermo for the WBC and WBA, so much so that he fought with a chip on his shoulder making an emphasis to not leave it in the hands of the judges. Oh, Hagler’s defining fights came at the end of his career against “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, and now forgotten, John Mugabi. 

In short, Hagler was a no-nonsense fighter, who was effected by the politics of boxing and changed his style, to take the politics out of boxing. 

Terence Crawford is the closest thing I have seen since Hagler, but in his own way. For starters, they’re the only two fighters in boxing history who can fight in both stances at a world level. They both had bad intentions and are not trying to be your friend in the ring. In fact, Crawford has that dog in him when he stopped Kell Brook he had to mug him after the stoppage, or when he KO’ed Hank Lundy asked him “did you find what you were looking for?”

Crawford is a no-nonsense guy, in a world full of nonsense. 

If the internet didn’t exist, Crawford would be bigger, because his skills are immense, and despite people disrespecting his resume, beating Ricky Burns (in Burns’ hometown), Yuriorkis Gamboa, a heavily avoided at the time Thomas Dulorme, Viktor Postol, Felix Diaz, Jose Benavidez Jr., “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas, and Kell Brook, is no small feat. In fact, most of these fighters now are put down by pundits, because of how bad Crawford beat them. Crawford has never had to show that next gear in a fight despite being at the world level in professional boxing for nearly a decade and fighting in three different divisions. 

Terence Crawford is the type of competitor that we rarely see in boxing, the man who hates losing and only wants to be defined by his wins, in the ring. 

It makes for terrible articles since most boxing writers are nerds. We want the outside the ring stuff, the stories, all that stuff. Crawford is an old-school beat-you-up guy. A guy who would put his name on a bracket like in a wrestling room and want to beat everyone people said was the best. That type of attitude isn’t often conveyed in words, it is an attitude, and a spirit, not an essay. The boxing-industrial complex of maximum money for minimal risk also has strayed from this thinking over the past decade as well.

His four-round destruction of Kell Brook was what most expected, albeit Brook looked awful on the scale, his first two-rounds showed he still was, what he once was, and still, Crawford stopped him in the fourth after, Shakur Stevenson, described what was going to happen perfectly for the ESPN telecast and Crawford applied pressure. 

Like Hagler, Crawford is the “the guy” at 147 lbs., but yet he holds no leverage in terms of negotiating with his generational rival, Errol Spence Jr. Spence holds two world titles – the WBC and IBF, Crawford holds just one the WBO. 

In terms of business, Spence is in a situation to command the action, despite Crawford being on paper a three-division world champion, and potentially the best current fighter of this era, as the only others comparable to him are Tyson Fury, and Canelo Alvarez, both of whom have PED accusations that have been thrown at them.

That said, talent alone doesn’t finish a deal.

So, what is next?

The narrative moving forward is Crawford needs to take control of his career, and/or Top Rank needs to do a better job at getting big fights, but the issue is, in my opinion, is this – Crawford isn’t a social butterfly, and despite being an all-time great fighter, fight fans, and competitors are gravitating to him, but not people beyond that. Crawford isn’t an ambassador of the sport beyond, the sport itself. The thing to sell with him is the action and competition, but sadly for some, the foolishness is what they want as well.

In short, he has to take short money to get a big fight since despite being an a-side talent, he isn’t bringing in A-side numbers as his two pay-per-view appearances against Viktor Postol, and Amir Khan didn’t do as well as one would’ve hoped. An easy way to tell that, Crawford was moved back to terrestrial television after both bouts, and didn’t stay a premium act for two consecutive pay-per-views. 

Here is the thing, you can still keep it player and not be a hater.

What does that mean? You can say Terence Crawford is great, and still acknowledge that 2012 U.S. Olympian Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, and one of the best boxers ever, Manny Pacquiao, are great as well. Greatness is not singular, and we don’t need to hate other fighters or demean their talent to hype anyone up. That is the problem boxing is facing, negativity, that is dumbing down achievements and hurting fighters accomplishments.

The disturbing trend though is what is next?

Crawford’s best fights are with Premier Boxing Champions fighters, and those fighters, have a plethora of opponents, some of which pay just as well, and offer less risk than Crawford. Crawford is currently making a lot of money and even was used as the fighter to launch ESPN+ when he won the welterweight world title from Jeff Horn. 

That being said, Crawford is at a point in which he needs his defining fight.

After the bout, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said the following,

This quote is telling, as it appears Top Rank might feel they have done as much as they can with him, and for his price-point don’t see how they can return on their investment at this point.

As far as Crawford a few things are clear. 1) Crawford can really fight, 2) Crawford isn’t turning the profit margins one would hope for his purse sizes, 3) decisions will be made in the coming weeks and months, about Crawford’s future, as at 33-years-old, Crawford no longer has time to wait. 

The career arch of Crawford, from his personality to his biggest fights being his last fights, to even the way he looks to knockout opponents rather than to go rounds. screams Hagler, but what makes him unique, is that it appears that Crawford won’t get his respect until his career is over, and it doesn’t get more Hagler, than that.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle