By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor
Terence Crawford is undefeated and the world champion at 140 lbs. There is that constant debate in the sport of boxing as to who is the best pound-for-pound fighter and for the past few years that has been associated with Andre Ward the light heavyweight champion. But Crawford says Ward is number one and he is number two.
Crawford was asked that question late Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden prior to the official announcement of his title defense May 20th at the Garden against Felix Diaz, a 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist from the Dominican Republic.
Top Rank sees Crawford as one of their prime superstars and Crawford indeed gets that classification with a fight at the Garden that will be televised by HBO Boxing.
This is boxing so a fighter will not give away any of the strategy. Crawford does not know much about Diaz, 19-1, 9 KO’s, but it is knows that Diaz has been looking at fights at welterweight because getting opponents at 140 have not been easy to get.
So Diaz, in other words, is a viable opponent and will be seeking the title and on a grand stage in New York City.
However, Crawford is not one to brag and respects his opponents. And that distinction as being the best fighter in the world did catch him off guard. It’s the persona that makes him special and when Crawford meets the media that genuine personality is like a ray of sunshine.
“Oh no, I’m just number 2,” Crawford said with a smile. “Andre Ward is Number one pound-for-pound.” He hesitated and named some other prominent names in the top five including the eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao and his good friend Timothy Bradley.
But this is a topic that Crawford does not think about and it seems the business and finishing off opponents is the lone concern.
Diaz, through a translator said, This is the opportunity I have been waiting for.” And when asked if Crawford as an opponent is in that class of styles make fights, he said “I want the fans to see a fight what they want to see. He (Crawford) demonstrated he is one of the top boxers but I’m coming to win and I am going to win.”
“This is the biggest opportunity of my life except for the Olympics. It’s the same level but as a professional.” Diaz would not elaborate about Crawford’s claim that he could be number 2 in the world with the best and that is not a concern. Fighting in the Garden and winning the title is his goal as he has been calling for Crawford the past year.
Diaz wants the fight fans to know that he is the best. Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs) of course has other ways of making that claim and has done that. The two division champion from Omaha Nebraska is a popular draw with HBO and has stopped five of his last seven opponents and a knockout in the Garden will only increase that popularity in his second defense as the unified WBO champion.
”It’s gonna be a real fun fight,” Crawford said. “I’am real excited for this fight. I’m real up for it. I’ve been reading all the blogs people have been sending to me for the last couple of days telling me I’m scared of him, and I’ve been ducking him and everybody knows that Terence Crawford ducks no one.”
He was referring to Diaz as the fighter he has not avoided. Remember the fights have to be made and during the past year, Crawford has been taking care of business and getting the lucrative opportunities. Diaz has been there and Crawford took some criticism in his last fight with an easy win over John Molina Jr.
All that Terence Crawford wants is to gain is more popularity, a goal for any fighter. He has that chance at Madison Square Garden and again the win is more important than gaining more fans who are aware of his potential.
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