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WBO champ Crawford eager to watch every bout on card

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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 wins 60th career fight with seventh-round knockout

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Manny Pacquiao clinched his 60th victory with a seventh-round knockout Sunday of Argentinian Lucas Matthysse, his first stoppage in nine years.

Pacquiao said he worked hard but was surprised by the swift win in the World Boxing Association welterweight title fight.

Pacquiao rebounded from his disappointing loss last year to Australian Jeff Horn and his victory could extend his boxing career that had taken a backseat to his political life as a Filipino senator.

“This is part of boxing. You win some, you lose some,” Matthysse said. He hailed Pacquiao as a “great legend” and said he will take a break after his loss.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also attended the fight, the biggest boxing match in the country since the 1975 heavyweight clash between Muhammad Ali and Australian Joe Bugner.

Duterte said: “I would like to congratulate Senator Manny Pacquiao for giving us pride and bringing the Filipino nation together once more.”

‘It’s about time’: Trump pardons late boxer Jack Johnson

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WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump on Thursday granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after what many see as his racially-charged conviction.

“It’s my honor to do it. It’s about time,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony, where he was joined by boxer Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, who has drawn awareness to Johnson’s cause.

Trump said Johnson had served 10 months in prison for what many view as a racially-motivated injustice and described his decision as an effort “to correct a wrong in our history.”

“He represented something that was both very beautiful and very terrible at the same time,” Trump said.

Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes, for traveling with his white girlfriend.

Trump had said previously that Stallone had brought Johnson’s story to his attention in a phone call.

“His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial,” Trump tweeted in April. “Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!”

Johnson is a legendary figure in boxing and crossed over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries following the civil rights era.

He died in 1946. His great-great niece has pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have been pushing Johnson’s case for years.

The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. He then mowed down a series of “great white hopes,” culminating in 1910 with the undefeated former champion, James J. Jeffries.

McCain previously told The Associated Press that Johnson “was a boxing legend and pioneer whose career and reputation were ruined by a racially charged conviction more than a century ago.”

“Johnson’s imprisonment forced him into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice, and continues to stand as a stain on our national honor,” McCain has said.

Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented. President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War, and Bush pardoned Charles Winters, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War convicted of violating the U.S. Neutrality Acts in 1949.

Linda E. Haywood, the great-great niece, wanted Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, to pardon Johnson, but Justice Department policy says “processing posthumous pardon petitions is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the pardon and commutation requests of living persons.”

The Justice Department makes decisions on potential pardons through an application process and typically makes recommendations to the president. The general DOJ policy is to not accept applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions, according to the department’s website. But Trump has shown a willingness to work around the DOJ process in the past.

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.