Fight Picks: Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan

On Saturday, Terence Crawford will put his WBO welterweight title on the line against Amir Khan at Madison Square Garden in New York (ESPN Pay-Per-View, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

Crawford, who is ranked No. 2 by The Ring at 147 pounds, had initially looked like he may face Luis Collazo but his promoter, Top Rank, made overtures to Amir Khan and instead were able to broker a bigger, more intriguing fight.

“The Crawford-Khan showdown is a very interesting matchup of two elite fighters,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Khan, when fighting at welterweight, is as good as there is, but he is fighting the division’s best fighter and a pound-for-pound great. It will be an entertaining and competitive fight.”

Crawford (34-0, 25 knockouts) turned professional in 2008, and has gone on to win championships at lightweight, junior welterweight (undisputed) and welterweight.

Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) won silver at the 2004 Olympics and turned professional to great acclaim. He was the WBA/IBF junior welterweight titleholder prior to stepping up to welterweight in 2014.

Each fighter is facing arguably their fastest ever opponent, who will deal with that better? Khan struggled last time out against Samuel Vargas. Can he find his earlier form to trouble the champion? Crawford is known to start slow. Can the challenger get off to a quick start and build a lead?

Online gambling group William Hill lists Crawford as a 1-10 (-1000) favorite, while Khan is priced at 11/2 (+550); the draw is 25/1 (+2500).

Here’s how the experts see it:

THE RING MAGAZINE/ RINGTV.COM

LEE GROVES: CRAWFORD TKO 10
For all of Khan’s offensive gifts, one can’t watch his fights without the feeling that the avalanche is about to cave in at any moment. That’s because of his fragile chin, which has failed him even in fights where he boxed well up to the final moment. Also, I think Khan will have a tougher time establishing his offense because his reach is three inches shorter and because Crawford’s southpaw stance will neutralize Khan’s jab. Without the jab to establish range, Khan will have to depend on power combinations to establish a foothold in the fight, and, with that chin, that’s a very dangerous option. Because Khan has the soul of a warrior, he’ll be drawn into the fire despite the danger and that will be where Crawford will lower the boom. Finally, Crawford has a history of disassembling opponents who trash talk him piece by piece and deriving sadistic joy from the process. He waited until the final seconds of the fight to take out Jose Benavidez Jr., arguably the most satisfying victory of his career because Benavidez’s pre-fight jabber was so severe. Therefore, I believe Crawford will take his time with Khan, punishing him enough to hurt him, but not enough to take him out in a short, merciful manner. In a nutshell, Khan is skilled enough to beat everyone but the best, and, unfortunately for him, Crawford is among the very best.

MICHAEL WOODS: CRAWFORD UD
I love upsets. It’s good for the sport when the underdog flips the script. Is Khan capable? I think he has a 20 percent chance to beat Crawford. And I push myself to not cap it at 15 percent… but everybody loses, right? OK, OK…not everybody. But, typically, even the Hall of Fame bound aces take Ls. Could a Khan flurry catch Bud? It could… but I would not bank on it. But yes, such an occurrence would be good for the sport. Not leaning that way, not going to be THAT GUY. Crawford is innately talented and works his tail off to stay at a high level. Crawford wins a UD, as Khan chin holds up better than many assume.

MARTY MULCAHY: CRAWFORD UD
I see both boxers staying true to past big fight performances, which only plays out positively for one. Amir Khan has become a fast starter who wins rounds early with smooth boxing, quality combinations, and cat-like reflexes. While Terence Crawford gives away the opening rounds studying the opponent for holes he exploits ruthlessly before he warms to the battle and takes apart bewildered foes. Khan sweeps opening three rounds, but can’t keep up with Crawford’s superior timing and counterpunches which take their toll as the rounds ratchet up. I think Khan finishes the fight on his feet, but has to rise from the canvas in the championship rounds, losing a unanimous decision.

NORM FRAUENHEIM: CRAWFORD KO 9
Crawford and Amir Khan are on career paths that are taking them in opposite directions. Khan is trying to resurrect the fighter he once was just as Crawford is discovering — and implementing — a dynamic skill set that has him near or at the top of the pound-for-pound debate. At the intersection of their divergent paths, they collide in a meeting that won’t be pretty, at least not for Khan. A seemingly instinctive ability to switch from traditional to southpaw and back again makes Crawford as unpredictable as he is dangerous. Khan’s hand speed might be problematic early, but Crawford is not a fast starter. He calculates early and finishes later, which is what he figures to do with tactical precision that will
target Khan’s notoriously weak chin for a KO blow.

GARETH A. DAVIES: CRAWFORD TKO 8
Amir Khan will have to have his heightened faculties at his very greatest against Terence Crawford. Speed, movement, explosiveness and above all, discipline. For me, the only way that Khan gets the win, is by getting ahead, then staying moving, and fighting in bursts. Does he have one brilliant performance left in him? I hope so. I have visited Khan four times in this camp, and he is relaxed and in phenomenal shape now. But this could be his last stand. Crawford has great skills and spitefulness. Khan’s fragility against lesser opponents of late concerns me, and as a result, I pick Crawford to catch up with Khan and stop him around the eighth round. But if Khan does do what he says he will, and sticks to his plan, it could be a thriller. I hope so. But my instinct says Crawford TKO/KO round eight.

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: CRAWFORD UD
Intriguing fight, you could legitimately say this is the most talented fighter Crawford has fought as a professional. Khan has a lot of experience and speed; those will serve him well in the early stages. Crawford is traditionally a slow starter and takes a look at his opponent for a few rounds before surgically taking them apart. I’m interested to see how Crawford deals with someone who has the speed of Khan. This fight will tell us a lot about Crawford, is he the man many think he is? Khan looked shaky against Samuel Vargas last time out, if he’s not able to raise his game from that level he’s in trouble. I believe after a few rounds Crawford will start to land his shots and, as the fight goes on, take over. Crawford to win a decision something like 9-3 in rounds.

TOM GRAY: CRAWFORD TKO9
While Crawford doesn’t have the single-shock power of Canelo Alvarez, the pound-for-pound entrant is excellent at solving opponents. I think this fight follows a predictable pattern: Khan looks terrific and has surprising success in the first half. The Englishman then gets nailed and is finished off quickly, or slowly over the next couple of rounds.

BOXING INSIDERS

ABEL SANCHEZ (TRAINER): CRAWFORD
Firstly, Terence is probably one of the best fighters we have around right now, all the way around, not in just one aspect. Wilder’s a big puncher, Fury is a good boxer and mover, but Crawford seems to have every tool necessary. At 140 I liked him a lot. At 147 I think Khan will give him some difficulties at the beginning, just like he gave difficulty to Canelo because of his handspeed. Not that he will hit Crawford like he hit Canelo, but I think he will give him difficulty just because of his speed and movement. I’m sure he’s not going to stand there, but eventually, before the end of the fight, I think Terence should take over. The chin being a culprit for Amir, he seems to get hit and hurt, and if Terence is able to catch up with him, he may hurt him and stop him. I see Amir doing well but not necessarily winning. I’d say it’s a 70-30 fight for Terence, late in the fight or unanimous decision going away.

JOLENE MIZZONE (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): CRAWFORD TKO 7
Crawford by stoppage in seventh round, not taking anything from Khan, but activity and opposition come into play on this fight.

KATHY DUVA (CEO, MAIN EVENTS): CRAWFORD
I think that Crawford will be way too much for Khan. He is so surgically precise. I believe that Crawford will break Khan down throughout the early rounds and stop him in the 11th or 12th.

ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER, GOLDEN BOY): CRAWFORD TKO 10
Khan will be difficult for the first three or four rounds, as he always is because of his speed. However, Crawford will begin to work the body and cut the distance, then begin to impose his strength, and he’ll really come on in the second half of the fight. I do not see the fight going the distance, maybe ref stoppage. TKO 10 Crawford.

TOM LOEFFLER (PROMOTER, 360 PROMOTIONS): CRAWFORD
Crawford by late KO. Will be very competitive with Khan’s speed early, just like the Canelo fight was.

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-WEIGHT WORLD TITLEHOLDER/ TV ANALYST): CRAWFORD
It’s a good fight because we will see how Crawford deals with the speed from Khan. Unfortunately, it would take a brave man to bet on a Khan victory, as an unbeaten and proven champion is so hard to beat. Nice guys come last in this business and Amir is just too nice to grind out a victory. I can only see one winner; a late stoppage for Crawford.

RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): CRAWFORD
I think really highly of Crawford. I think he’s No. 2 behind [Naoya] Inoue as the best fighter in boxing today. I like Khan, he’s no push over. He’s been unlucky and has lost to guys he was supposed to beat. With that said I like Crawford to win by knockout. I hope that Crawford walks into that ring with that intention. If not, we’ll get a decision fight that will be hard to watch on replay [laughs].

JEFF HORN (FIGHTER): CRAWFORD
Khan definitely has a chance. He outpointed Canelo in the early rounds and can do the same to Crawford if he doesn’t chase too much, makes Crawford come to him and uses his boxing skills. Whether he can do that for 12 rounds is the big question. If he can, he can get a decision. But with Crawford’s class and ability to counter brilliantly, I think a Crawford KO victory in the late rounds.

PAULIE MALIGNAGGI (FORMER TWO-DIVISION WORLD TITLEHOLDER/ TV ANALYST, SHOWTIME): CRAWFORD
Crawford late stoppage. I think a few years ago it would have been a great fight. Now though, not so much. Khan was the fastest guy I fought. Only guy I fought that was faster than me. Having said that, his speed was nowhere near that in his fight with Vargas. This is not the same Khan, so the comparison is irrelevant. Age takes a toll on everyone differently.

JOHN SCULLY (FORMER FIGHTER/TRAINER): CRAWFORD
Ultimately, if I had the bet I would pick Crawford to win. He’s fresher and he’s just much closer to his prime than Khan is to his. But I have to say, I think it’s going to be a more difficult fight than most people think. I think for the first half of the fight, especially, Khan is going to be right there with him. I’ll say that Khan can put up a real fight and go the full 12, losing a decision.

SEAN SMITH (TRAINER): CRAWFORD
I think Khan can match Crawford for speed and pop early on – but as the fight progresses, I think Crawford will just have to much for Khan defensively and the offense will probably take a toll on Khan quite dramatically toward the end of the bout. I say TKO Crawford later rounds.

NISSE SAUERLAND (PROMOTER, SAUERLAND EVENT): CRAWFORD
I think it will be an exciting fight but Crawford will stop Khan, mid-to-late rounds.

TONY TOLJ (MANAGER): CRAWFORD KO 7
Crawford vs. Khan is simple. Crawford is a beast and a lock for this fight. Full credit to Khan, he has taken on the best. He has massive testicular fortitude, the problem is his chin has been imported from Beijing. Short and sweet Crawford for the win, KO Round 7.

BARRY JONES (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): CRAWFORD
It’s another massive task for Khan, but he’s one of the few fighters to always want to test himself against the best and for that he deserves the utmost respect. Even though he has four defeats, Khan has never been outboxed, but in Crawford he might have found a boxer who can and might just to do that. Khan’s defeats have come when the fighters have made the fight a more physical affair and the knockouts have come when his opponents have been willing to punch with him. Crawford seems to have it all, maybe the most natural switch hitter since Marvin Hagler, and someone with the boxing I.Q to match his fantastic physical gifts. I think Crawford would be a favourite to beat Amir when Khan was at his peak but as we seen in his last performance, Khan is slightly on the other side of that. The hand speed and the discipline in the early rounds will make it more of a chess match and difficult for Crawford to mount too many successful attacks. But as the rounds go by, Crawford will make the right adjustments and Khan will lose a bit of focus. That combination, I’m afraid, will result in Crawford timing a beautiful shot for a show reel finish somewhere from 6-9.

RICKY HATTON (FORMER TWO-DIVISION WORLD TITLEHOLDER/TRAINER): CRAWFORD
It’s a tough one for Amir. Some people are saying that Crawford is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters out there. It’s not who he’s beaten, it’s how he’s beaten them. Amir has been in some tough fights and taken some bad knockouts, but he showed he can go in there with the very best. He was holding his own against Canelo until he got caught. Amir has hand speed and I can see him having success in the early rounds, but as the fight drags on I see Crawford taking over. I’m going for Crawford by late stoppage or points, I hope I’m wrong as Amir is my mate.

RONNIE SHIELDS (FORMER FIGHTER/TRAINER): CRAWFORD
I think it’s a good fight. I don’t think Amir Khan has enough to beat Terence Crawford, I just think Terence Crawford is such a good fighter on both sides. I don’t know if Amir Khan is strong enough or his chin is good enough to stand up and put the pressure on. He’s not going to outbox Terence Crawford, no way in this world is he going to outbox him. He’s going to have to do something nobody has done, put pressure on and make Terence back up. It’s a tough fight for Terence and a tough fight for Amir Khan. I think Terence by late stoppage. It’s difficult to fight a guy like Terence Crawford; he’s not a one-punch knockout kind of guy, he does have power but he’s very accurate with his punchers. He doesn’t miss a whole lot. That’s just a terrible style for Amir Khan.

FINAL TALLY

23-0 in favor of Crawford

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

 

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