Crawford the boxer to beat

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Conrad M. Cariño

Conrad M. Cariño

Okay, so Manny Pacquiao hopefully won’t have that much problems beating Jessie Vargas this weekend in Las Vegas. With a record of 27-1 with 10 knockouts, Vargas simply does not have knockout power although he is ranked at No. 8 in the The Ring magazine’s welterweight list that is topped by Kell Brook.

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But looking at The Ring ’s junior welterweight (140 pounds), welterweight (147 pounds) and pound-for-pound rankings, the man to beat would be Terence Crawford, who has a record of 29-0 with 20 KOs and is No. 5 in the pound-for-pound rakings. Crawford is also the champion in The Ring ‘s junior welterweight rankings. No other junior welterweight or welterweight ranked by The Ring in those divisions made it to the magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings.

So should Pacquiao (58-6-2 with 38 KOs) consider Crawford as his next opponent if he disposes Vargas this weekend?

Although Pacquiao winning this weekend would bolster his stock as one of the sport’s greatest, the boxing world may want him to face tougher opposition in his next fight. Taking on an opponent with no knockout power or audience-drawing power would not do Pacquiao any good in so far as his current popularity is concerned. Well, that will definitely earn him more dollars.

At 29 years old and standing 5’9”, Crawford will present challenges for Pacquiao. Currently the World Boxing Organization world junior welterweight champion and the former WBO lightweight champion, Crawford is one of the sport’s future superstars in boxing’s middle divisions. And standing in his way are other future super stars like Danny Garcia (32-0 with 18 KOs) and Keith Thurman (27-0 with 22 KOs), both hard hitters in their own right.

If Crawford and Pacquiao agree to fight, the common perception would be the Filipino would be an advantage because he is now a natural welterweight while the American has been fighting at junior welterweight. That’s seven pounds separating their official fighting weight limits.

But Crawford, being the bigger fighter, might be more comfortable going up in weight and I would not be surprised he will soon be invading the welterweight division to take on the likes of Garcia and Thurman.

If Crawford does climb to the welterweight division, he would have the chance, along with Garcia and Thurman, to usher in another “Golden Age” in the welterweight division. Although it would be hard to equal the era Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Benitez and Thomas Hearns created for the welterweight division decades back, boxing fans today want to see the best in the division mixing it up sooner or later.

So where does Pacquiao fit into the evolving welterweight division? I wish I knew the answer.

The good news for Pacquiao, however, are the future crop of superstars I just mentioned are not very eager to mix it up immediately unlike their counterparts during the era of Leonard, Hearns, Benitez and Duran.

But if they start mixing it up in the ring and the call for one unified champion in the welterweight division gets louder among fight fans, Pacquiao will surely be called out. And so far, it’s Crawford who is on top the heap in the junior welterweight and welterweight divisions, which means anybody who wants to be on top those two divisions should fight him. That may include Pacquiao.

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