TERENCE Crawford is willing to unify boxing’s welterweight division by taking on all champion comers of the world.
Not in his radar though, is Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao, who Crawford doesn’t recognize as a title holder despite winning the World Boxing Association 147-lbs version three months ago.
“He’s not a champion in my eyes. He don’t have the super belt. That’s the champion in my eyes,” said Crawford in a transcript emailed to different publications including SPIN.ph heading to his World Boxing Organization welterweight title defense against Jose Benavidez on Sunday in Omaha, Nebraska.
For the record, the 39-year-old Pacquiao wrested the WBA crown last July from Lucas Matthysse of Argentina following a seventh-round stoppage during their 12-round bout in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
But Crawford, considered among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world today, isn’t giving the Filipino the recognition due to him.
“I look at the No. 1 champion in the division. I don’t look at the WBC Silver and the interim belts and all that,” said the 31-year-old Crawford, who reigned as an undisputed light-welterweight champion last year before he decided to move up in weight.
“I look at the super and the actual champion of the division.”
Instead, Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) mentioned being interested in meeting World Boxing Council (WBC) counterpart Shawn Porter and International Boxing Federation (IBF) holder Errol Spence.
The same thing with Keith Thurman, who, ironically, is no longer the WBC champion and hasn’t fought since March of last year.
Crawford’s trainer and manager Brian McIntyre is on the same page as his boxer.
“Realistically, we’re going after the champions,” said McIntyre without mentioning Pacquiao either. “You know, I don’t see any reason to be fighting the number six dude or number seven dude. We want the best fighters out there at 147. Terence wants those fights to happen.”
Setting a fight against Pacquiao would also be a bit complicated as Crawford is currently being handled by Top Rank Promotions, with which the Filipino senator parted ways last year after more than a decade of working together.
Instead, the Crawford camp is more interested in a possible unification match against Spence, the 28-year-old New York native.
“Right now, the biggest name in the welterweight division is Errol Spence,” said McIntyre, who’s trying to urge ESPN to make the fight happen.
“If they (ESPN) want to be the leader in boxing, they’re going to go out and make those fights happen,” he said. “That’s what Terrence wants. They want Terrence to be the no. 1 fighter in the world.”
First things first. Crawford needs to take care of business against Benavidez, the 26-year-old undefeated California native (27-0, 18 KOs), who once served as Pacquiao’s sparring partner.