WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford returns to action Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York to defend his belt against British Amir Khan. Like each presentation of the champion in three divisions and the second best Libra per Libra on the planet, there is a lot of expectation to see his performance, especially for the kind of opponent he will face.
Terence Crawford faces Amir Khan for the Welterweight World Championship. Buy the fight here (USA only)
Although in the previous Crawford is seen as a big favorite, the experience of Khan, his boxing talent and especially the fact that he is a fighter who has fought beyond the welterweight division, daring to reach even the middlemen where he faced Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in 2016 creates an incognito about the possibility of a surprise.
Undoubtedly, for Crawford it will not be a fight anymore, the complicated efforts for the other champions to accept to face him, while waiting, forces him to demonstrate in each fight that his boxing level in the welters is still one step above the rest.
Neither for Khan will be one more fight. A victory would take him to a place he has not visited since 2011: the ownership of a world title and his 32 years could start the road to that glory that was predicted when, at 17, he won the silver medal in the Olympic Games of Athens 2004.
Sometimes, those fights where analysts stand in line to predict without a shadow of a doubt the triumph of one of the rivals, break the supposed wisdom to predict and remind us that, in this sport, "every fight ends when it ends and just a good blow for anyone to win, even the weakest in the previous "
Amir Khan could be that weak side that destroys our prognosis? Let's see if this is possible.
A fast, intelligent and precise champion
Nor would it be necessary to repeat the attributes that stand out in the boxing of Terence Crawford, but this time, before the clash of virtues against an opponent that in some areas equates it, it is necessary to reiterate it. The "Prodigal Son of Omaha" is pure talent in the ring. For his controlled speed in the displacements, the speed in the strike from any angle, the ability to work as well in recoil as in the middle of a suffocating offensive pressure and especially his intellectual intelligence to read the evolution of the fight assault by assault.
Crawford not only controls his opponent with his boxing, he controls it by his mental agility, which allows him to always go one step ahead of his intentions. The reasons for granting him favoritism in his fights always pass by that port. To that is added his best arm extension (188 cms) which, added to his ability to change guard without losing effectiveness, gives him a huge advantage against all the rivals he faces.
In case something is missing, Crawford is a model of effectiveness and accuracy in his strike: he fails a little and has an uncommon control over the direction of his impacts.
But, even so, there is no absolute guarantee that his virtues reach him to win beforehand. Adelante will have an opponent with a long road in boxing and against different first level rivals, something that gives him a huge experience.
A rival whose best is always expected
For those of us who follow Amir Khan's career since that distant 2004 in Athens, it seems to us that an eternity of time has passed. However, at 32 years old, the Briton is in the best moment of his boxing maturity and it is necessary to imagine that his goal will be to demonstrate him in a high profile fight like the one he will star in this Saturday at MSG.
Also Khan is a boxer of high intellectual level in the boxing, both defensively and offensively. It does not have the same speed as Crawford in the displacements, but it can equal it in the speed of hitting. The difference, in your case, is that this speed is more explosive and directly is effective in the short distance, when you are allowed to enter a pure sequence with more than two strokes.
Terence Crawford, three-division world champion and current WBO welterweight champion, is set to face former unified lightweight world champion Amir Khan at Madison Square Garden tomorrow.
Amir Khan always has a correct reading of the combat, he handles the corp with success, he can resort to counterattack if the opponent gives him some facility and in general he can face an open exchange if they demand it.
In talent, in speed, in boxing intelligence, they are two opponents that can be considered within the same range. Things change when you look for defects and that side, necessarily, raise the actions that give that huge favoritism to the champion.
Amir Khan has a recognized fragility in his chin and that single detail against an opponent with the precision and ability to pierce defenses based on speed, as is the case of the American, are very high chances that that Achilles heel is his Loss in this fight.
To this we add another factor that we do not know if it still affects the Briton's performance in some way: the terrible KO suffered in 2016 against Saúl "Canelo" Alvarez, for which he had to be hospitalized and then spent two years away from the ring. He returned two years later and since then has done two fights: Phil Lo Greco and Samuel Vargas. He won both, but in both fights he showed a low level.
The positive thing of those fights, was the control of his attitude before Vargas, that sent it to the canvas in the second assault. Khan knew how to handle the fight with patience, he did not lose control, he returned the kindness to Vargas and he did not mind traveling the full distance to win comfortably on the cards. That detail speaks well of his concentration and intelligence to handle his times of fight.
This could be a very useful tool against a rival as dynamic and dangerous as Crawford.
What fight will we see?
Amir Khan, faithful to the usual, will dictate the rhythm in the first episodes. It's your DNA and I hardly change it for this fight. Will seek to shorten distances, close the roads of Crawford to the sides and seek to penetrate the defense of the champion down the middle street. If he succeeds, we will see him trying to place his combinations of two or three strokes. Another of its registered trademarks.
Crawford always takes a few rounds to warm up engines, usually taking his time to define what kind of opponent he faces. During this time, he chooses the type of posture he will face in the fight, although he may start and end up lefty in front of an orthodox opponent. After the third or fourth episode, the battle may change course. Khan will begin to lower his decibels and Crawford will raise them.
Between the fifth and seventh episode will be when the highest chance will be that Crawford will get his best shots. You will already have read and understood the British strategy what will be enough to know how and how to hurt him. That section will be the deep-water swamp where Amir Khan's fate can end. If you overcome it, the chances of taking the fight to distance and with it the possibility of victory will increase. It is difficult to happen, but not impossible.
If in this fight we see the same Amir Khan that was complicated before Samuel Vargas in his last fight, it is difficult, too difficult that this battle goes beyond the sixth round. And that will be my prognosis, a victory by TKO of Terence Crawford, after the fifth episode and after more than one fall of the Briton.