A very interesting welterweight title bout has been set for ESPN PPV on April 20 as WBO welterweight champion Terrance Crawford, seen by many as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, will defend his title for the second time against former unified junior welterweight champion Amir Khan, one of the biggest stars in boxing for many years. The somewhat unlikely bout has been rumored for weeks but was formerly set today.
Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) of Omaha, Nebraska has established himself as America’s best boxer for the past several years, winning six titles in three different weight classes, including all four major belts at 140 pounds. Last June, he moved up to the welterweight division and knocked Australian Jeff Horn out in the ninth round to take the 147 pound title. He followed that up was a dominant performance over the undefeated Jose Benavidez Jr in October.
Few boxers in the last decade have a career as dramatic as that of Khan (33-4, 20 KOs), the 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist who led in many ways the current boom in boxing in the United Kingdom. Once seen as the best prospect in the sport, Khan won two titles in the 140 pound division before losing them a controversial split decision to Lamont Peterson in December 2011 and a dramatic knockout loss to Danny Garcia in July 2012. After rebuilding his career at 147 pounds, Khan famously moved up to 155 pounds to challenge Canelo Alvarez for the WBC middleweight title. Khan outboxed Canelo early before Canelo’s power caught up with him and he was knocked out with a devastating right hand in the sixth round.
Since then, Khan returned last year with a first round knockout of hapless Phil Lo Greco and a solid performance against the tough Samuel Vargas, whom Khan knocked down twice while at the same time going down once himself. Now Khan gets another stiff challenge.
Many in England had hoped that Khan would fight former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook in a fight that has been talked about across the pond for many years now. But the allure of fighting Crawford, who many have ranked only behind Vasyl Lomachenko on the list of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, along with the chance to be the world champion again, was apparently too much for Khan to pass up, even though the scuttlebutt is that Khan could earn twice of the five million dollars he will be payed to fight Crawford.
That’s how big Khan vs Brook is in England. Five million is a step-down.
For Crawford and his promoters at Top Rank, Khan is the badly needed top name they need to raise Crawford’s status and profile. Crawford, who draws sellouts in his home state of Nebraska and has begun to develop a nationwide following, has been able to get many of the big fights he craved because of the current fractured state of boxing. Fellow welterweight titlists Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, and Keith Thurman all signed to Premier Boxing Champions, making matchups with those men almost impossible, as well as Crawford’s longtime dream opponent, Manny Pacquaio. So for Top Rank, Khan is a god send.
The fight is scheduled for April 20 on ESPN PPV, the first boxing PPV since Top Rank moved their fighters over to the network in 2015. The site is yet to be determined but it will almost certainly either land in Madison Square Garden or one of the usual sites in Las Vegas.
On paper, it seems like a rather simple fight to call. Khan is tall, rangy fighter with fast hands and good power, but he has lacked stamina at times and has been seen as chinny ever since he was knocked out by Columbian Bredis Prescott at 135 pounds in 2008. Meanwhile, Crawford is known to get stronger as the fight goes on and is known for late knockouts. Even with all of his skills and his height advantage, Crawford will be a tall hill for Khan to climb and Khan will be a heavy underdog. Luckily for us, Khan is captivating win or lose. So this should be a fun event for all boxing fans.