Can Crawford survive the Pacquiao blitz?
The man mainly opposed to boxing Manny Pacquiao was undefeated WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford himself.
Years ago, Crawford, 32, stood tall and declared it would be wholly unfair mixing it up with a legend seeking fitting closure to a glorious career.
Crawford cringed at the thought of blasting the Pacquiao myth to bits.
Short of saying the Pacquiao fight would be a disgrace (to boxing), Crawford practically declared he had nothing to gain fighting a faded superstar.
Of course, the first one to warn Pacquiao against fighting Crawford was Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.
When it was first suggested Pacquiao could try boxing Crawford, Roach readily cried it would be terribly dangerous. He swore Crawford was too good, young and strong.
Pacquiao, 41, had his ups and downs along the way. He got knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth meeting in 2012. He returned after a yearlong break to beat Brandon Rios in Macau.
There was at a dizzy point when cries started rising from various circles for Pacquiao to hang up his gloves.
Instead, Pacquiao ended up clashing with Floyd Mayweather in 2015 in what’s considered the richest bout in boxing history.
Pacquiao, after losing on points and claiming he fought with an injured shoulder, next busied himself pressing Mayweather for a rematch.
Curiously, a slew of elite younger fighters led by Mikey Garcia, continued to zero in and challenge Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, meanwhile had a scintillating last win last July when he dropped and outboxed the celebrated Keith Thurman in a classic encounter.
Before that, Pacquiao would score ordinary expected wins over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner.
There was no clear direction but, in a jolting twist, veteran promoter Bob Arum, who was originally also very reluctant to even talk about a Pacquiao-Crawford fight, declared they are in serious talks to bring the bout to Bahrain.
As expected, Pacquiao was tagged the underdog in the planned bout. But the fight, if ever, promises to be more fierce and competitive.
Here’s why: Crawford, hailed as a magnificent all-around boxer, did bare loose strands in his arsenal in a fight against Ukraine’s Viktor Postol in Las Vegas in 2016.
Crawford, highly favored, did start to dominate, sending Postol down to a knee in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Postol however refused to be cowed. He also succeeded in exposing faults in Crawford’s defense.
In the crucial closing rounds, Postol pressed for a stoppage, thereby forcing Crawford to run and retreat frantically.
Next came a rain of criticism, with some calling Crawford a gutless running dog.
“That’s movement,” Crawford cried in discomfort.
All told, Crawford could be in great trouble against an older but competent adversary in the fearless, fire-breathing Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines.