Lightweight titlist Terence Crawford is set to face Raymundo Beltran, the deserving mandatory challenger, on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the CenturyLink Center in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. It will probably be his final fight at 135 pounds.
Crawford, 27, has fought primarily as a lightweight for his entire seven-year career, although he has had a few fights at junior welterweight. The time for the full-time move up is seemingly at hand.
“My thought about that is I have been at this weight for a long time, and I feel like it’s best that I move up,” Crawford told ESPN.com. “Me and my team talked about it and said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ There are a lot of great fights at 140 and names to choose from. It’s a stacked weight class, all the way to 147, so it shouldn’t be a problem getting fights with bigger names at 140 and eventually at 147. I want to make a run toward that greatness and the pound-for-pound list.”
Crawford (24-0, 17 KOs) said that while he wants to move up after Saturday’s fight, it’s not set in stone.
“You never know,” he said. “It’s all about what my team wants for me, my managers, my coaches, my promoter. Everything goes good Saturday and they say, ‘Let’s move up,’ that’s the decision. As far as me wanting to move up, I do. But it’s not only my decision. It’s a team effort.”
Top Rank, Crawford’s promoter, envisions him as an eventual opponent for Manny Pacquiao, who defended his welterweight title last week against Chris Algieri at a catchweight of 144 pounds. Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach have said they are interested in Pacquiao moving back down to junior welterweight unless a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. can be made next.
Crawford has heard his name mentioned in the Pacquiao sweepstakes but has tried to ignore it.
“It’s just talk right now, but I’m up for whatever,” Crawford said. “Give me a date and a time and we can make any fight happen. It’s just talk right now, so I don’t feed too much into it, and I got other things to worry about, like Beltran on Saturday. If they’re serious, though, we’ll go from there.”
Crawford said it is a great compliment to be mentioned for a fight with Pacquiao.
“It makes me feel good,” Crawford said. “I wasn’t talked about for a long time, and now that I’m getting some kind of recognition I think my hard work is paying off.”
Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said it makes a lot of sense for Crawford to move up after the fight with Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs).
“You move up for two reasons,” Moretti said. “One, you can’t make the weight and, two, marketability. Crawford isn’t going to get a unification fight. Fights with Richar Abril and Mickey Bey are nonstarters for many reasons. And we’d get arrested if we put him in with [former titlist] Omar Figueroa.
“So you’d like to move him to 140 and eventually to 147. He wants big fights and bigger names, and they reside at 140 and 147. As for fighting Pacquiao down the road? Crawford is reaching his prime and won’t be intimidated. It’s an interesting fight.”