Fight Club: Crawford could spoil Pacquiao's party

Andy Lewis 26/10/2015
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Terence Crawford is set for marquee fights in 2016 after his stoppage of Dierry Jean.

Terence Crawford made his case for a 2016 showdown with Manny Pacquiao by dominating and then knocking out an outclassed Dierry Jean in Omaha on Saturday night.

But perhaps the worry for Crawford – known as ‘Bud’ and the 2014 Fighter of the Year – is that his case is starting to look a little too strong.

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Pacquiao, who shares a promoter with the reigning WBO light welterweight champion in the shape of Top Rank supremo Bob Arum, looks all set to fight just once more before hanging up the gloves.

And the hype machine is already in full flow, churning out the message that Crawford will be his opponent in what looks like a potentially classic ‘changing of the guard’ contest.

The 36-year-old Filipino legend, already a congressman, is campaigning to become a senator in his homeland, a full-time position which would bring an end to his illustrious boxing career.

That is save for a ‘farewell’ fight being mooted for April 2016.

And therein lies the problem for Crawford: the American is now looking such a dangerous proposition that he is hardly a man to lie down as a former eight-division champ and future Hall of Famer goes out in a blaze of glory.

The decision is Pacquiao’s to make, and he is the only one with anything to lose in this equation. Crawford is making a name for himself but needs a marquee fight and a big scalp to propel himself right to the very top of the sport, while a Pacquiao showdown would also surely see him make the leap to headlining a pay-per-view.

For Arum, matching the two is pretty much win-win. Victory for the 28-year-old Crawford, now 27-0 (19 KOs), would see him seize the Top Rank torch from Pacman and leave Arum with a huge star on his roster.

Meanwhile, a Pacquiao triumph wouldn’t be the end for Crawford, as long as he exploited the extra exposure with another strong display in a competitive and exciting bout. Based on Bud’s recent displays, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Crawford cleaned up at lightweight and has already established himself as perhaps the top man at 140lbs with his speed, power and, above all, his ring IQ and ability to read opponents marking him out as a rare talent. Therefore you would have to question Pacquiao’s wisdom in picking him for a swansong, and should it occur, also factoring in a significant height and reach advantage, then Crawford would now start as the favourite.

That’s especially the case when you consider Pacman is recovering from shoulder surgery following his May defeat to Floyd Mayweather, that he has lost three of his last six and at this late stage of his career it is hard to predict what type of Manny we would see on his comeback. Arum did at least confirm that Crawford was on the veteran’s shortlist, alongside Amir Khan and Tim Bradley, should he take care of Brandon Rios on November 7 in Las Vegas.

“Manny and Terence would be a hell of a fight,” Arum said.

“But Manny has to make that decision on who he fights for his last fight.

“Manny has to look at the tape first, and we have to see what the result of November 7 is, and then we’ll take a look after that.”

Before he could entertain the notion of such lavish fights, Crawford first had to take care of business in his hometown at the weekend. That proved no problem at all as he switched stances, boxed fluently and generally put a beating on Jean to ram his pre-fight taunts back down his throat.

A hard right decked Jean at the end of the first, while another had him in all sorts of bother in the fourth. The Haitian-born Canadian was cut in the fifth, down twice more in the ninth and finally stopped in the 10th.

“I just want to go in and put on a great show. He called me out twice. Did you get what you were looking for?” Crawford asked Jean in the ring after the fight.

When it was put to him that indeed Pacquiao could be next, he replied: “I’m ready.” So are we, but you have to ask, is Manny?”

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[L-R] Darron Gibson, Oleg Salenko, Wendel Clark.

Salenko is a former Russian international striker and is generally famous for just one thing – scoring a record five goals in a World Cup finals match.

Salenko’s special moment came in 1994 when the finals were hosted in the USA, as he smashed five of his side’s six goals in their 6-1 demolition of Cameroon.

A 42-year-old Roger Milla replied for the Africans. In a game of records, Salenko’s feat was a first while Milla became the competition’s oldest goalscorer.

Salenko, who turns 46 today, added another goal in Russia’s game against Sweden and it was enough to see him share the Golden Boot with Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov.

Salenko played at Zenit Leningrad, Dynamo Kyiv, Logroñés, Córdoba, Valencia, Rangers and İstanbulspor in a nomadic club career that lasted from 1986 to 2000.

1962: Steve Hodge, the former Nottingham Forest and England winger (53)

1966: Wendel Clark, the ex-Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey player (49)

1984: Iván Ramis, journeyman Spanish footballer with Mallorca, Levante and Eibar (31)

1987: Darron Gibson, Irish footballer, formerly of Manchester United now of Everton (28)

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On this day: 1991 – Aaqib skittles India as Pakistan lift Wills Trophy

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What a spell: Aaqib Javed.

Pakistan set up victory by posting 262 from 50 overs, the highest score of the tournament, and then made sure of it through Aaqib Javed’s hat-trick.

It was the seventh in limitedovers internationals, and his figures of seven for 37 were the best in all such cricket.

He initiated India’s collapse in his first over, dismissing Sidhu, but the fatal blows were struck in his third, as Shastri, Azharuddin and Tendulkar were lbw to the third, fourth and fifth balls.

Aqib’s performance overshadowed his colleagues’ earlier exploits: Zahid Fazal and Salim Malik added 171 for the third wicket; Zahid had hit eight fours and a six in 120 balls when he was carried off the field with cramp.

1985: Karl Malone makes his NBA debut with Utah – he averaged 25.0 points and 10.1 rebounds in his 19 year career.

1987: Minnesota wins their first ever World Series title.

1990: Evander Holyfield KOs James ‘Buster’ Douglas in three rounds to win the undisputed world heavyweight title.

1993: Daryll Cullinan stroked an unbeaten 337 for Transvaal in their Currie Cup match against Northern Transvaal, the highest first-class score in South Africa at the time.

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