NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 20: Terence Crawford sticks out his tongue against Amir Khan during … [+]
Terence Crawford has had a rather ho-hum 2019. Make no mistake: Since he moved to welterweight last year, Crawford has looked like one of the world’s best fighters when he’s stepped into the ring, and the 147-pound titlist continues to call out the kinds of fighters that will challenge him and turn him into an even bigger star. But thanks to boxing politics, Crawford, who fights Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas on Saturday night on ESPN, has remained in a holding pattern all year.
This is only his second fight of 2019, and he’s a heavy favorite to dominate Kavaliauskas. His only other bout came against Amir Khan, and like most people suspected, Crawford decimated him. Kavaliauskas probably won’t do much better.
Meanwhile, the rest of the top 147-pounders are unavailable for now, and yeah, it’s hard to take.
“It’s frustrating but I look at it as a business move by them not to fight me,” Crawford told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m not going to knock them or be a hater, but I know where I stand and I know the game they’re playing and there’s nothing I can do about it. I just have to focus on what I can do and keep making a living and keeping my name up there as the best pound-for-pound fighter.”
There are plenty of reasons to watch Crawford tangle with Kavaliauskas. Here are three of them.
1) Crawford needs to win (and to look good) to possibly infiltrate the PBC: Here’s the issue with Crawford and welterweights like Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao and Danny Garcia. All work with Premier Boxing Champions, and PBC has shown zero interest in making a deal for their boxers to take on Crawford, who’s promoted by Top Rank. Crawford needs those PBC fighters more than the PBC needs him (with the possible exception of Spence), and like Crawford said above, there’s nothing he can do about it right now. So, he needs to keep looking spectacular. “I like proving people wrong,” Crawford said. “That’s more joy for me. … I do my thing in the ring, and every time I fight, I send a message to all the welterweights out there. Everyone poses a threat. [Kavaliauskas] is a good fighter. He is a two-time Olympian for a reason. He’s undefeated, strong and hungry.”
2) Yeah, but he can beat Crawford?: Hmm, probably not, but maybe. Kavaliauskas represented Lithuania twice in the Olympics, won a bronze medal in the 2011 world championship, and never tasted defeat as a professional. But he hasn’t faced anybody close to the level of Crawford as a pro, and he’s coming off a disputed draw. Still, he seems confident. “Terence Crawford is a great fighter, which is why I wanted this fight. I am ranked No. 1 for a reason,” Kavaliauskas said, referring to his sanctioning body mandatory opponent status. “I am here for a reason, and I can’t wait for Saturday night.”
3) What’s next for Crawford?: Of course, Crawford has to get past Kavaliauskas before he can begin to ponder his future, but that doesn’t mean Top Rank’s Bob Arum can’t think about what will come next for Crawford after his wasted 2019. And if PBC and Top Rank can’t make a deal, Arum said he’ll look to the 140-pound division for possible opponents. Potential fighters there include unified titlist Josh Taylor, Regis Prograis or Top Rank-promoted Jose Ramirez. “I’m looking at nothing but good fights for Crawford, and the good fights will come from the 140-pound guys coming up—Taylor, Prograis and Ramirez, who’s having trouble making 140,” Arum told The Athletic. “After this fight, Terence is going to fight one of those three guys for sure.” All three of those junior welterweights are excellent fighters, and though I’d make Crawford a betting favorite against that trio, each would have a solid chance to beat Crawford.
Terence Crawford Vs. ‘Mean Machine’ odds
For some ungodly reason, Crawford opened up only as -770 favorite vs. Kavaliauskas, who was somehow only a +570 underdog.
Smart bettors jumped on those Crawford odds, though, and as of this writing, he’s now about -1900, meaning you’d have to bet $1,900 to win $100. If you think Kavaliauskas can pull off the upset, you’re going to get great value on your bet, though. He’s a +950 underdog, meaning you’d earn $950 on a $100 wager.
The over-under on rounds fought is 8.5 with the over at -150 and the under at +120.
If you’d like to see the betting odds on the undercard bout between Teofimo Lopez and Richard Commey, click here.
Terence Crawford Vs. ‘Mean Machine’ purses
It’s unclear exactly how much Kavaliauskas is making, but according to The Athletic, Crawford will take in about a $4 million purse. In his last fight vs. Amir Khan, Crawford earned a minimum of a $5.5 million.
Terence Crawford Vs. ‘Mean Machine’ records
Crawford has a perfect record of 35-0 with 26 KOs, but since he moved to welterweight, he hasn’t faced an elite fighter. At junior welterweight, he definitively beat Viktor Postol to unify two of the titles, and in 2017, he destroyed Julius Indongo in two rounds to become the undisputed champion. Those were good opponents. Since moving to 147 pounds, he’s faced overmatched foes like Jeff Horn, Jose Benavidez Jr. and Khan.
Kavaliauskas also is undefeated at 21-0-1 with 17 KOs, and he’s showed decent power as a pro. His biggest victories have come against David Avenesyan and Juan Carlos Abreu in 2018, but his last fight vs. Ray Robinson is a concern. Robinson, a solid but not spectacular fighter, appeared to win in the minds of many boxing observers, and though Kavaliauskas escaped with a draw, it was not the most impressive performance he could give before facing a boxer like Crawford.
Terence Crawford Vs. ‘Mean Machine’ prediction
Crawford will take out his frustrations on Kavaliauskas, and I don’t expect this to last the distance. Crawford is too good, too strong, and, frankly, too mean in the ring to allow Kavaliauskas to survive the full 12 rounds. Maybe “Mean Machine” will have a solid round or two. But look for Crawford to make it a short night. Call it Crawford by KO in the seventh.
Hearn takes a shot at Showtime: Jermall Charlo looked fantastic last week against Dennis Hogan, but not many people watched. And Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who puts most of his matches on the DAZN streaming service, couldn’t help himself and took a dig at the premium cable channel.
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