Opportunity knocked and Terrence Crawford answered the door.
The 25-year-old junior welterweight prospect was getting ready to face the unknown Robert Osiobe on the untelevised undercard of the much-anticipated Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado rematch on Saturday night (HBO, 10:15 ET/PT) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
But when junior welterweight titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev injured his elbow last week and was forced out of his defense against Breidis Prescott -- the televised co-feature -- Crawford was suddenly offered the opportunity of a lifetime.
With promoter Top Rank and HBO looking to salvage the opening TV fight, Crawford was given the opportunity to step in and take on Prescott. Crawford jumped at the chance.
Crawford (19-0, 15 KOs) was at home in Omaha, Neb., when co-manager Cameron Dunkin called to tell him about the fight.
“My reaction was, ‘OK, let’s go,’” Crawford said Tuesday. “I didn’t hesitate or nothing. I felt like it’s the time. I’m just ready, ready to get in there and display my talents.
“I had been training hard for Osiobe and camp was going real good. I feel strong, so this was the right time to take this fight. But I was really surprised. It just came out of the blue. But I feel like everything happens for a reason and they called my phone for a reason. This fight was meant to be. This opportunity is coming at the right time for me. I feel like I deserve the shot.”
So instead of facing Osiobe for $15,000 with few watching, Crawford will earn $125,000 to face Prescott (26-4, 20 KOs) in the co-feature of a major fight on national television with a chance to launch his career.
“I never take a fighter lightly and I’m just excited to be in this position to make a name for myself,” said Crawford, who served as a sparring partner for Timothy Bradley Jr. when he was a junior welterweight titlist and defeated such notable fighters as Danny Garcia, Diego Magdaleno, Mikey Garcia and Carlos Molina during his amateur career.
While Crawford and trainer/co-manager Brian McIntyre were all for the fight with Prescott, Dunkin -- a notoriously nervous manager -- was hesitant. Prescott is a bigger man -- Crawford has fought mainly as a lightweight -- with loads of experience and excellent power. But Dunkin is most concerned because the fight is on such short notice.
“I am concerned about Terrance, but not because I don’t believe in him,” Dunkin said. “I’ve been with him since his first pro fight. I love him. I’m concerned because the other guy has a lot of experience and is bigger. Terrence is really a 135-pounder. Prescott is a serious guy. He’s a world class guy. He’s a world championship level fighter. If we had another six or seven weeks to prepare, I’d feel a lot better.
“But my job was to offer him the fight. I know it’s a very scary fight. (Top Rank’s Bob) Arum told me the money and I called up Crawford and told him about the fight and there was no hesitation. He wanted to fight on HBO and he knew it was a great opportunity because if he beats Prescott, that puts his career at a whole different level. To (Crawford’s) credit, it wasn’t the money. He was excited to get on HBO. He didn’t say anything about the money. I told him what it was but it wasn’t the money that set him off. He just kept saying how excited he was to be fighting on HBO.”
Prescott, 29, of Colombia, is a seasoned veteran contender who is a quantum leap up in competition level for Crawford, who will be fighting his first scheduled 10-rounder.
Among the several quality opponents Prescott has faced, he owns a memorable first-round knockout against Amir Khan and was way ahead of Alvarado in their 2011 fight before being stopped in the 10th and final round.
“Prescott is tall and rangy and everybody knows he’s a big puncher,” Crawford said. “He’s tough. He’s a good fighter but I feel like I can be in there with anybody. I feel like I got the skills, the talent, I’m dedicated in the gym, put my all into my workouts. I’m ready to take on anybody.
“This fight is going to boost my career to right where it should be, in the mix for a title fight. (Boxing fans) can expect a show from me on Saturday.”