Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan: Styles Make Fights
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: April 20, 2019
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - The world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden in New York City will once again play host to one of the biggest fights of the year.
This weekend WBO Welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) will make the second defense of his title against Bolton, England’s Amir “King” Khan (33-4, 20 KOs).
The bout with Khan will mark Crawford’s second in the big room at Madison Square Garden and his third overall bout in New York.
Madison Square Garden was the building in which Khan made his United States debut in May 2010 against the loquacious Paulie Malignaggi.
That night Khan was able to outbox and stop a former world champion in a one-sided fight in what many still recall as the best performance of his career.
Before making his trip to North America and facing Malignaggi, Khan had his fair share of doubters with those that believed he was more hype than substance.
Khan is the youngest British Olympic medalist in boxing history and the third-youngest world champion from Britain following Naseem Hamed and Herbie Hide.
Khan in many ways finds himself in the same position he was in before he faced Malignaggi. Now almost a decade later he still has a majority of fans and pundits who don’t believe he can win.
The former Super Lightweight world champion’s resume is filled with well-known names throughout the past era. Khan is 10-3 with two knockouts against former or current world champions. He is 6-3 with two knockouts in world title bouts.
The Bolton, England native’s list of victories includes names like Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander amongst others.
Examining Khan’s four losses, three of the four were by stoppage at the hands of Breidis Prescott, Danny Garcia, and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. His only defeat by decision came at the hands of Lamont Peterson in December 2011.
That loss was riddled with controversy from the scorecards to Peterson testing positive for synthetic testosterone for the rematch.
Crawford is without question one of the most complete boxers of this era that can fight from both the southpaw and orthodox stances with equal success. Khan, however, for the majority of his career has given technical fighters like Crawford significant problems in the past.
During a recent conference call with Top Rank Boxing promoting the bout with Crawford, Khan spoke about how he matches up with the Omaha, Nebraska native.
“Breaking down the fight, Terence is a very skillful fighter, and I always do well against skillful fighters,” Khan said. “This is going to be like a game of chess at times.”
Looking back throughout boxing history there is a precedence for Khan to come out with his hand raised on April 20th.
Back in the 1970s with the man, many consider to be the greatest Heavyweight champion of all time, Muhammad Ali (56-5, 37 KOs). After facing Joe Frazier in their epic conclusion to their trilogy in “The Thrilla in Manila,” he went on a streak of title defenses before finally losing to Leon Spinks in 1978.
Fans and pundits may remember Ali’s issues with Ken Norton, a fighter Ali was never able to beat clearly without some controversy on the scorecards. Often forgotten is a bout that Ali took in April 1976 against Philadelphia’s Jimmy Young (35-18-3, 12 KOs) in Landover, Maryland.
Ali was a natural counter-puncher and preferred his opponents to be the aggressor while he took advantage of any openings left available. Young may have known this going into the match and decided to make Ali the aggressor by fighting on his back foot for the majority of the fight.
Ali had problems being the aggressor against Young leading to an extremely close bout that could have been scored for either man. Young at the time of the match wasn’t considered one of the elite Heavyweights at the time; however, his style alone caused enormous issues for one of the best fighters in history.
In the early 2000s in the Welterweight division elite boxer, Vernon Forrest ran into a stylistic nightmare when he took on Ricardo Mayorga.
At the time of the bout with Mayorga, Forrest was considered one of the top fighters in the world pound-for-pound after two decisive victories over future Hall-of-Famer Shane Mosley.
Before facing Forrest, Mayorga was best known for his victory over Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis whom he stopped in five rounds. The style in which Mayorga fought had more in common with what you would see in backyard fights on YouTube than in a championship boxing match.
Forrest at the time may have had the best jab in the sport and was favored to dispose of Mayorga easily. However, Mayorga’s brutish style of throwing punches at all angles and willing to commit to getting on the inside no matter the returning fire caused all kinds of trouble for a master technician in Forrest.
Shockingly, Mayorga was able to stop Forrest in the third round when he landed a right hand on the temple of Forrest’s head leading the referee to put a halt to the bout.
In a rematch, a few months later Mayorga once again defeated Forrest this time by decision in a closer match, but one in which he was once again able to land and hurt Forrest on several occasions.
In that same time frame in 2003-2004, the man considered to be on top of the boxing food chain Roy Jones Jr. ran into his own stylistically nightmare when he met fellow Florida native Antonio Tarver. Jones was a fighter similar to Khan in the sense that he was also successful in giving elite technical boxers fits.
However, against Tarver, he ran into a fighter who simply had his number, as he was only able to win once in the first of their three meetings in a highly questionable decision in November 2003.
Tarver, arguably, scored the most significant victory of the decade when he landed a one-punch technical knockout in the second round of their rematch in May 2004.
It is difficult to imagine Khan scoring an emphatic knockout of Crawford who has shown to have a durable chin throughout his career. However, Khan is more than capable of outpointing Crawford to win a decision.
What will be in question is if Khan is facing the former undisputed Super Lightweight champion too far past his prime. At 32 years of age, dominant performances over the likes of Devon Alexander could be a product of the past.
In Khan’s recent two performances following his knockout loss to Alvarez, he has been inconsistent scoring a first-round knockout over Phil Lo Greco and a dodgy decision to journeyman Samuel Vargas where he was knocked down in the second round.
With Crawford being on the wrong side of the political divide in the Welterweight division he finds himself taking on a fighter that can give him stylistic problems. Unfortunately for the Nebraska native, a victory over Khan may not provide him with the credit deserved. He is in the proverbial lose-lose situation.
Despite the odds and credit he may or may not receive Crawford’s focus should only be on making sure that he gets another victory on his ledger. He is one of only three fighters in boxing history to unify all the world titles in a division joining Bernard Hopkins and Oleksandr Usyk.
A clear and decisive victory will keep Crawford at the top of most lists as one of the best in the world.
Khan has been afforded another opportunity for a world title and a chance to once again be considered an elite fighter.
Throughout his career, Khan has been knocked down 11 times. More times than not he has gotten back up. Regardless of the question marks surround his chin, Khan is a warrior when he steps inside the squared circle.
On Saturday night, he may have found himself to be the right guy at the right time. As the old adage states ‘styles make fights’ and Khan could have the right style to hand Crawford the first defeat of his career.
(Featured Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)