Terence Crawford
Micky Williams, Top Rank

Terence Crawford, the WBO welterweight championship successfully defended his title at MSG, but he deserves better opportunities. 

Rich Mancuso

What is next for Terence Crawford? The WBO welterweight champion was successful in defending his title at Madison Square Garden Saturday night.

The presumed pound-for-pound king of boxing—no debate about that here—made Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas the latest victim in a tougher fight than expected.

But the pound-for-pound king was too much. Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) knocked down Kavaliauskas three times en route to a ninth-round TKO in front of 10,101 fans at Madison Square Garden.

So after five rounds, Crawford transitioned from southpaw to the orthodox stance. It was a better transition than what has been seen from the Knicks on the Garden floor.

Fights like this are what make Crawford the champion, a marketing commodity who can’t seem to get the recognition and major fight.

You see, boxing politics is once again a major obstacle that can be attributed to fans not getting to witness the fights that should be made. The transition of a sport is dominated by various promoters and streaming networks that have lots of revenue and compete to sign the top fighters.

So Terence Crawford, promoted by Top Rank and ESPN, is the victim here in a hidden war within the powers that be that control boxing and who make the fights.

“I thought I had to entertain y’all for a little bit. He’s a strong fighter, durable, and I thought I’d give the crowd something to cheer for,” Crawford said. “I wasn’t hurt at all. I got up and went straight to him. I wasn’t hurt by no means. I walked through everything he threw all night.”

Exactly. This is what makes Terence Crawford, who should be rightfully proclaimed as the top fighter at 147. Perhaps, as many would say, Crawford is the pound-for-pound king of boxing.

But that debate, pound-for-pound, has never been a priority on Crawford’s list. He wants to fight the best and further cement his legacy in the sport.

The issue for Crawford, of course, is boxing politics. Top Rank and ESPN will need to further their efforts to enhance that opportunity for their champion, unify the titles, and the obstacle is working with the PBC.

The PBC has that lucrative financial deal with FOX and Showtime. The managerial company this past week also signed a five- year deal with On  Demand, Pay-Per-View distributor.

And the PBC also has control with the elite fighters who hold titles at 147, Shawn Porter, Panny Pacquiao, to name a few. Crawford was aiming for Errol Spence Jr.

Spence, the WBC and IBF champion, was severely injured when he was ejected from his car in the Dallas area a few months ago.

Updates are not clear about the health of Spence. He sustained a significant injury and possibly broke a hip which could keep him inactive for a year or jeopardize his career.

Regardless, Terence Crawford will move on. The champion is seeking that major opportunity as most in the boxing world look at him as the top fighter or second best when discussing pound-for-pound.

“I’m not ducking anyone on the PBC side or Top Rank platform. I want to fight all the top guys,” Crawford said in the ring.

Again, this is by no means the fault of Crawford. When the big fights at 147 are discussed, the WBO champion seems to get bypassed, His promoter Bob Arum and Al Heyman (PBC) need to get it done.

That being said, getting it done is not easy. There have been discussions about a Crawford fight with Porter, the former champion who lost his WBC and IBF titles to Spence in September.

Crawford is a huge fan-favorite in Nebraska and comfortable when fighting at the Garden.

Terence Crawford
Micky Williams, Top Rank

Top Rank has a limited deal promoting fights at the Garden, “The Mecca.” The PBC has a financial deal with boxing at the Barclays Center that is on thin ice as shows have not been a draw.

Then there are the networks, ESPN with Top Rank and the PBC with FOX and Showtime. You get the idea as boxing politics could continue and stall the best fights for fans.

Crawford will not get the deserved and proper recognition. That is, of course, if he fights Porter, technically a free agent, or any of the other top fighters at 147 under the control of the PBC.

The fight has to be done and there is a commitment to get it finalized.

Terence Crawford had some difficulty getting it done Saturday night. He prevailed, now he has to prevail by getting the fights at 147 to make his claim as best pound-for-pound and king at 147.

Co-main event and another superstar:

Teofimo Lopez has quickly become a rising star in boxing and Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden the Honduran native who resides in Brooklyn won the IBF lightweight title.

Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) blitzed Richard Commey (29-3, 26 KOs) in two rounds. Lopez knocked Commey down with a right hand in the second round and followed up with a savage combination that forced referee David Fields to stop the fight.

Lopez made history in becoming the first boxer of Honduran descent to win a world title. He is now on track to challenge unified champion Vasiliy Lomachenko in a fight that would crown an undisputed champion in 2020.

“I’m at a loss for words right now. This is a dream come true,” Lopez said. “{Commey} is a bad man. His shot could’ve done the same to me if he hit me with that shot.

“You all know who I want to fight next. 2020 is going to be a big year. ‘The Takeover’ has arrived, and you haven’t seen anything yet.”

Said Lomachenko: “We want to ‘unificate’ all four titles. Now he’s a world champion and now he’s in position to fight me.”

Details for an eventual fight with Lomachenko will come in the months ahead. Madison Square Garden could be the venue or Las Vegas with a possible date in April.

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