160617-Terrance-Crawford
Getty Images

WBO champ Crawford eager to watch every bout on card

Leave a comment

NEW YORK — The boxing fan is eager to watch every bout on the night’s card. Even those between fighters who will never amount to anything close to what he has accomplished.

This particular boxing fan is Terence Crawford, a two-time world champion and current WBO super lightweight titleholder. So he asks to conduct an interview within eyesight of a fight deep on the undercard of a boxing card on which he isn’t performing.

“I am a big fan of boxing, and it doesn’t matter who or where the fight is,” Crawford says. “I am not the type of fighter who only cares about championships. I come early and see the undercard as well, like any big fan of boxing.”

Crawford usually is worth the price of admission when he’s in the ring. He’s 28-0 with 20 knockouts. Crawford won the WBO lightweight belt in March 2014 over Ricky Burns, twice successfully defended it, then moved up to super lightweight and won the WBO championship. He has stopped his last two opponents in defending the crown.

Next up, though, is his biggest test: undefeated Viktor Postol of Ukraine, which is regularly churning out title contenders. Postol also is 28-0, with 12 knockouts, and owns the WBC title.

Their matchup on July 23 in Las Vegas is one of the more anticipated upcoming fights. Postol is somewhat of an unknown in the United States, but he has won his last three outings in the U.S., including knocking out Lucas Matthysse to earn his title.

“You’ve got the two best in the division, No. 1 vs. No. 2,” Crawford says. “You’ve got the WBC champion (Postol) versus the WBO champion (Crawford). What more could you ask for in a fight?”

If it is up to Crawford, there will be plenty of action in this fight. He believes his speed and versatility will be decisive against the European style employed by Postol.

“I am going to give a 100 percent performance because I know he is going to give 100 percent,” Crawford says. “That’s going to make it a good show for everyone.”

Crawford’s boxing idols are Roy Jones and Floyd Mayweather. He has copied some of their repertoires – Jones’ power and Mayweather’s canny approach – and is thrilled when someone mentions any sort of resemblance to those champions.

“Of course I learned from watching them,” he says. “They were the masters of offense and defense, and I have tried to take a little of both from them.

“You would be foolish not to.”

Crawford hopes he can be as big an attraction as Jones and Mayweather. He knows a decisive win over Postol is a must.

“A lot of people want to see me fight now,” he says. “But ask me after the next fight about (more popularity). But I think I am already getting there.”

That he has gotten so far is a minor miracle because eight years ago, Crawford was shot in the neck after winning money in a dice game. He actually drove himself to the hospital, where surgery was performed.

That episode intensified his desire to succeed in the ring.

“I know how hard you need to work to get where you want to go,” he says. “Nobody works harder than me.”

And few boxers pay attention to other fights the way Crawford does. He sat ringside when Vasyl Lomachenko, another rising Ukrainian, won the WBO junior lightweight title with a dynamic showing that ended with a vicious series of lefts and a massive right hook to knock out champion Rocky Martinez. Crawford also watched undefeated Puerto Rican star Felix Verdejo score a knockout in the lightweight division.

Doing a little scouting, Terence?

“Nope,” he says with a stare, then a smile, “I just like boxing.”

Pacquiao plans to return to the ring Nov. 5

160712-manny-pacquiao
Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAS VEGAS (AP) Manny Pacquiao isn’t ready to give up his night job just yet.

Pacquiao, who said before his last fight in April that he would retire, now plans to return to the ring in November against an opponent who has yet to be selected.

Promoter Bob Arum said Tuesday that Pacquiao got permission to take a break from his new duties as a senator in the Philippines to take another fight. It will be held Nov. 5, likely in Las Vegas.

“He likes to fight and he likes the attention,” Arum said of Pacquiao’s return.

Pacquiao looked impressive in his last fight in April, returning from a layoff to knock down Timothy Bradley on his way to a unanimous decision. After the fight he wavered on his previous plans to retire.

“If you ask me to come back I don’t know,” Pacquiao said. “I may be enjoying retired life. I’m not there yet so I just don’t know.”

Pacquiao, who was formerly a congressman in his native country, was elected to the Senate in May and there were fears that increased duties would prevent him from fighting again.

But Arum said the head of the Senate told Pacquiao he was free to fight after the country’s budget is settled on Oct. 15.

“He would train in the Philippines and leave on the 16th to come to the U.S., train for two weeks and then come to Vegas,” Arum said. “The only issue is getting an arena for the fight.”

Arum said he is talking with MGM Resorts about an arena to host the fight. He had reserved the Mandalay Bay arena for Oct. 15, but Pacquaio can’t leave his Senate duties that early.

The fight also could be at the UNLV campus arena, he said, though UNLV would have to move a scheduled basketball exhibition from the date.

There were reports that Pacquiao might fight Adrien Broner, but Arum said he wanted the same money as Pacquiao, which was a non-starter. Another possible opponent would be Jesse Vargas, who fights for Top Rank, and holds a piece of the welterweight title.

Pacquiao was off for nearly a year after losing in May 2015 to Floyd Mayweather Jr., healing from a shoulder injury. But he seemed reinvigorated after beating Bradley in April in a performance that got good reviews from most, including trainer Freddie Roach.

“When I see Manny Pacquiao like that, this is the best Manny Pacquiao,” Roach said after the fight. “He hasn’t missed a beat. I would like to see him fight again.”

Laila Ali, Jaime Foxx pay tribute to Muhammad Ali

160627-Jamie-Foxx
AP Images
Leave a comment

Laila Ali paid tribute to her late father, sports icon Muhammad Ali, during the BET Awards on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Ali, a retired boxer herself, started to choke up as she spoke about her father’s legacy and the outpouring of support since his death at the age of 74 on June 3 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“My father, Muhammad Ali, lived his life with conviction and purpose,” Ali said. “He is known as the greatest athlete of all time, a man who fearlessly faced opposition both in and outside the ring.”

Actor Jamie Foxx, who starred in the 2001 biopic about the icon’s life, “Ali,” as Ali’s cornerman Drew Bundini Brown, also spoke about the legend, noting that he stood up when no one else was doing so.

After getting a standing ovation, Ali stood in front of a photo of her father holding her as an infant and talked about her father’s evolution in his heart, mind and spirit over the course of his lifetime.

“These past few weeks my father’s generosity and love has been matched by a worldwide outpouring of love and reverence for him and our entire family,” Ali said.

“If he was here today, he would humbly ask you to pray not just for our family, but for all of mankind.”