Saturday night, 20th April sees the WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford take on Amir Khan in the iconic Madison Square Garden in the USA.
Khan has come out and talked about his legacy, how this fight would become his defining fight and top everything he has done inside the ring in the years gone by – which despite his relative quietness the past few years, he has achieved a lot in the sport, but you get the feeling this will actually contribute more to the legacy which is being built by Crawford, who in my opinion is the number one pound for pound fighter in the world.
Whilst many have already written off Khan, you cannot underestimate the speedster. Khan still possesses some of the quickest hands in the world and he can put together combinations with blistering quickness. Yes he has declined in recent times, understandable given that he is now in his 30’s and speed was always his greatest asset, but outboxing Khan is still nigh on impossible to do – how many boxers have ever outboxed Khan? His only points loss was a controversial decision to Lamont Peterson, Khan was deducted points but Peterson was later found to be using testosterone which no doubt played a role in Peterson being able to continuously walk Khan down the whole fight and keep up a high work rate.
Crawford may be an extremely sharp mind when it comes to boxing IQ but even he will have problems trying to outbox Khan. Make no mistake, keeping your composure against someone who is as fast as Khan is not an easy job at all, trying to throw punches whilst someone is whizzing combinations on you at a freakishly fast speed requires a cool mind and a patient fighter – you cannot go head first into Khan because his speed and quick in and out movements will get the better of you. Crawford is going to have to stay composed and look to break Khan down with counter punching.
Counter punching is of course a strength of Crawfords. We can see that Amir Khan loves to throw the left hook followed by the right cross, this often catches his opponents out and has resulted in a number of knock out wins for Khan but we only have to look back at Crawfords history to see he has already handled a fighter with this exact same combination…
The Cuban Yuri Gamboa, like Khan was very quick with his hands and as his fight with Crawford began, he was catching ‘Bud’ out with this very combo – Crawford though switched his stance to southpaw and found a way to counter this combination with his own hook, Gamboa was unable to make the adjustment and the result ended in the round nine win for Crawford.
Crawford will also be keeping an eye on Khan’s lead hand. Khan has the habit of dropping his left hand, inviting the big right hand over the top of his jab, we’ve seen Khan get tagged from this counter on more than one occasion and if he doesn’t tighten up his defence, he will suffer the consequences. This is typical of Khan and his defence, it is not that he has a poor defence or a ‘glass chin’, the bigger problem is he has lapses of concentration and then makes a mistake, such as dropping his hands and ends up getting hit clean, Khan after all has faced one of the biggest punches in the welterweight division of recent times when he beat Marcos Maidana and managed to stay upright the whole fight even though he was rocked by some hard punches.
The other ‘flaw’ Crawford will be looking to exploit will be Khan’s footwork. Khan often ends up out punching his footwork meaning he is off balance and this can leave him exposed to a counter puncher like Crawford, he also does sometimes get his feet into a tangle and ends up moving whilst crossing his feet, again not a good position to be in. Khan is more of a one, two fighter and moves in and out – basically that is the style made famous in amateur boxing and although it has given him much success in the professional ranks, when it comes to real world class boxers such Terence Crawford, you will require a little more to your game. Crawford is a very smart fighter, he knows that Khan often fights with his heart instead of his mind, Crawford is the total opposite – he will think of his next move and calculate his move, if Crawford can get Khan to become carried away and get involved in a brawl, Crawford will pick Khan off with ease and the fight will end sooner rather than later. Another facet of Crawford’s game is he arguably the best finisher in the world today, if he sees blood or senses his opponent is hurt, he very quickly will end the game so if Khan decides to start a tear up as he so often does, it is as good as over for Khan.
As much as I would like to say this is a close fight, I simply do not see it being so. All signs point to a knock out win for Crawford, not only because getting a points win against a fighter as fast as Khan is practically impossible so Crawford will be well aware that the best way to beat Khan is to knock him out, he just depends on how patient Crawford is willing to be, Khan’s speed will give Crawford problems, like it does for everyone who fights him but I expect Crawford to take a few rounds to get adjusted to the speed and then work out figuring him out and breaking him down. Once that process is completed then Crawford will go in for the kill and finish off proceedings, I’d love to see Khan put in a performance which would be best yet if he can pull this off but you get the feeling Terence Crawford is getting set on gradually building a legacy for himself and Khan is just another step in the process. Whereas it might be true that Khan will be the best Crawford has faced, Crawford hasn’t really struggled in recent memory, he has rinsed and repeated the same process of working you out and breaking you down against quality fighters such as Viktor Postol and Jose Benavidez Jr, amongst those fights he outclassed Julius Indongo and terrorized Jeff Horn. Crawford has been head and shoulders above his opposition and I see no reason why he won’t be again when he shares the ring with another world class opponent in Amir Khan, when it comes to the fastest mind vs the fastest hands, I am picking the fastest mind…
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