They say you should never meet your heroes. You probably shouldn’t fight ‘em, either.
Like just about every professional boxer these days, Terence Crawford astutely watched Floyd Mayweather amass a 50-0 record and become one of the greatest of boxing’s modern era, if not all time. But the WBO welterweight champion, back in action this weekend, would want nothing to do with Floyd in a hypothetical match for reasons you might not expect.
“I always said I wouldn’t want to fight Mayweather because I felt I knew what to do to beat him,” Crawford told us.
That’s the competitor in Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs), the mild-mannered Omaha, Nebraska native who will confidently guarantee he puts any and all challengers down. While we can guarantee that dream matchup never happens, Crawford’s next victim likely comes Saturday when he squares off with Egidigus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) in a 12-round title fight taking place at Madison Square Garden.
Crawford- Kavaliauskas headlines a good card (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) that also features an extremely intriguing lightweight championship matchup between Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez with the winner likely pointed toward a showdown with Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2020.
But before one of the best in the business returns to the ring for the first time since he beat up Amir Khan this past April, Crawford stopped by the Complex offices in Los Angeles to talk about why he’s definitively the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world and why he agrees with us that the Logan Paul-KSI fight was a bad look for boxing.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
It’s been a long layoff since your last fight and it’s close to longest layoff in your professional career. Is that a good thing for you, a bad thing, do you not care?
It just happened the way it worked out, but at the same time I look at it as a good thing. I don’t ever try to look at things as bad things or, man, that’s a messed up situation. I just take the good with each and every situation put in front of me. I’ve ben boxing for a long time. I just take it like my body already needed a little rest. Now that I’ve had that little rest and that time for my body to rejuvenate, I’m ready to go more than ever.
When I came into 147, I asked for the top guys at 147. I didn’t ask for the guys that everybody thought I was going to beat. I beat the man that beat the man, whether you like it or not.
What are the unique challenges Kavaliauskas brings on the 14th?
I don’t know. I’ve never been in the ring with him. I know he’s strong, he can punch hard, I know he can bang, come forward, box a little bit. I really don’t know what he’s going to bring to the table come fight night because he’s never been in the ring with a fighter like me.
And you like to figure it out in the ring anyway, right?
It’s always been the case because I always look at a fight and a fighter like they’re not going to fight me the same way they fought their previous opponents. Once they get in the ring with me everything’s going to be new to them, everything’s going to be new to me. So I can’t base myself of how I’m going to fight a fighter off of who they fought in the past because we all not going to fight each other.
it’s your fifth time in the Garden, the place that you’ve fought the most. What’s so special about it?
That’s where they put me at. I don’t [have a preference]. When that bell rings it’s all the same.
Is there something special about fighting in the Garden?
Well, it’s a lot of history with fighting in the Garden, but at the same time, like I said, once that bell rings it’s fight time. It don’t matter where you’re at.
The pound-for-pound rankings was brought up the last time we talked. Is it still something you enjoy having friendly debates about since you haven’t been shy about saying you’re the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world?
When people debate and argue about it, I really don’t give a shit. It’s their opinion. I can’t knock somebody for their opinion. I feel like I’m No. 1 pound-for-pound. Lomachenko feels like he’s No. 1 pound-for-pound. Canelo [Alvarez] feels like he’s No. 1. So I can’t knock someone’s opinion if they feel like a fighter they’re following they believe is No. 1 pound-for-pound. It doesn’t really mean anything.
Do you find it laughable when we in the media put out these pound-for-pound rankings?
In a way that ya’ll justifiy it, ya’ll don’t look into everything that surrounds a fighter being pound-for-pound.
So what should we look into then?
You’re supposed to look into who this fighter beat at the time this fighter beat [them]. You’re supposed to look into who the fighter previously beat. Let’s look at Canelo. Everybody’s saying he’s pound-for-pound by beating [Sergey] Kovalev, right, because he went up in weight. Kovalev is how old?
That’s old in boxing. He’s been stopped before. He’s been beat before. It’s nothing that hasn’t already happened to this fighter. So we already know this fighter has been in this position before. So why is everybody so surprised when Canelo does it? Now if he would have fought Artur Beterbiev, he didn’t call him out.
Well, he’s much bigger and younger than Kovalev.
Right. And it’s the same weight. If he would’ve did that to a guy like that then it would’ve been like “Whoa.” There’s no argument.
You definitively feel like you’re the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
Of course. When I came into 147, I asked for the top guys at 147. I didn’t ask for the guys that everybody thought I was going to beat. I beat the man that beat the man, whether you like it or not. Jeff Horn beat [Manny] Pacquiao. I stopped him. Then after that, all the other champions. When I came into the division, I didn’t have a fight in the division. And all the champions said he need a belt. He didn’t even fight in the division right now, why is everybody rating him so high in a division he never fought in before? So when I had my first fight in the division, I stopped Jeff Horn. Now everybody’s saying he’s on the other side of the street. But what happened to get a belt first? So it’s not like I’m coming into a division taking on the weakest link. I’m coming into the division saying I want all of ya’ll right now. I don’t need no warm-ups, no tune-ups, and that’s what I did.
What have you learned and seen and observed being around your promoter Bob Arum?
He makes great fighters.
That’s what he’s been doing his whole career. When you look at all the greats that have come through him, besides Mike Tyson. You look at all the great fighters from [Muhammad] Ali to Floyd Mayweather to [Oscar] De La Hoya, [Miguel] Cotto, Pacquiao. You could say, “Oh, they all left him.” But where did they start? Without Bob Arum where would they have been? You can’t say you completely hate Bob Arum without saying you hate all the fighters he made.
Bob has gone on the record that he wants to make a fight with Errol Spence Jr. for you. We know the politics in boxing don’t make it the easiest fight to make but do you think 2020 is a possibility or 2021?
You have to let that man come to the public first before you think about a fight. Nobody’s heard or seen Spence since the accident. We wish him the best but at the same time we don’t know how severe the accident was for him. You don’t ever want to see nobody get hurt like that. He has a family. He has two daughters that depend on him. Outside of boxing, we don’t wish nothing bad upon him. We watch him, we fans of his. But when it comes down to the business side of me and him fighting each other that’s when it’s “fuck him.”
Is there a dream opponent you would have?
That’s a tough one. I always said I wouldn’t want to fight Mayweather because I felt I knew what to do to beat him.
Because I’ve watched him since I was little. I know his every move. I probably will say Pacquiao.
But you’ve probably seen his every move.
Yeah, but I’d enjoy kicking his ass instead of Mayweather.
Why? Because you have this ultimate respect for Floyd?
Did you watch the KSI-Logan Paul fight?
Is it good for boxing?
Because you have two YouTubers making more than some champions. I know world titlists not making close to what they made because of crazy stuff they put on YouTube and their followers, but so be it. Ticket sales. It looked like they were reaching, like you need help in some aspect. Boxing is not dead. Just make good fights.
What would be your Fight of the Year?
Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis.