It was formally announced Tuesday in London that on April 20, WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford will face the well-traveled Amir Khan in a pay-per-view event produced by ESPN.
This matchup, which will end up at either Madison Square Garden in New York or in Las Vegas, seemed unlikely to come together because of the political divides that currently exist in boxing.
But if Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) has shown anything in his career, it's that he loves challenges and is unafraid to venture out and pursue greatness. If hubris was a stock, Khan would be a billionaire by this point.
For Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), this fight serves two purposes. It gives him a chance to once again test the pay-per-view market, after his previous attempt against Viktor Postol in 2016 fell flat, and Khan offers value as an established name on two continents who has been a staple of American television for about a decade.
When the names Luis Collazo and Egidijus Kavaliauskas were thrown out as possible dance partners for Crawford, the public greeted that possibility with antipathy. While both are solid fighters, Collazo, a grizzled veteran (who was defeated by Khan back in 2014), is someone who doesn't move the needle, and Kavaliauskas is a relatively anonymous figure to most casual fans.
Khan, for all his flaws, is a known entity.
And pay-per-view isn't just about the actual fights, but the fighters.
While Khan certainly had shaky moments in his most recent outing against Samuel Vargas in September, he is a boxer who is rated in the top 10 by three of the major sanctioning bodies (fourth by the WBO, fifth by WBA and eighth by the WBC) and was a unified champion during his days as a junior welterweight.
The reality is that while Errol Spence, the IBF belt-holder, and the rest of the PBC welterweights engage in their round-robin matchups against one another, Crawford not only needs opponents, he also needs challengers who are easily identifiable to the masses as Top Rank begins to build its case to negotiate a fight down the line with Spence. You better believe that the pay-per-view figures from March 16 (when Spence takes on Mikey Garcia) and April 20 will be dissected for future comparison as both sides jockey for A-side positioning at the bargaining table.
Khan targets Brook after 'one of the best' Crawford
Amir Khan explains how his bout with Terence Crawford came about and outlines his hope for a future Kell Brook fight.
Khan has had a storied career, one that has seen him go up and down more than the Dow Jones. He's physically gifted with speed and quick reflexes, but cursed with a shaky set of whiskers. He's as good as he is vulnerable, capable of being spectacular and susceptible all at once.
He has a solid set of victories versus Devon Alexander, Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, Chris Algieri and Paulie Malignaggi, among others. For better or worse, Khan will essentially be defined by his defeats at the hands of Canelo Alvarez, Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson and Breidis Prescott.
The best and worst of Khan's career is the reason why Khan was selected for this assignment, as his pedigree is undeniable and he's rarely been in a forgettable fight. Say what you want about the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, but he's been in a multitude of memorable bouts and, unlike many of his other welterweight counterparts, isn't shying away from facing the tactically gifted Crawford, who is among the best technicians in the sport.
As flawed as Khan is, you could make an argument that he is still the highest-caliber and best-known foe that Crawford has on his resume. This is no knock on Bud, who has been a victim of the alliances that currently divide the sport like the 38th parallel in Korea. He won major world titles at 135 and 140, and is now a welterweight belt-holder. But there are no real marquee names on his ledger, as his clearing out of the junior welterweight class and unifying of the division came against the likes of Postol and Julius Indongo -- not exactly Kostya Tszyu and Aaron Pryor.
The 31-year-old native of Omaha, Nebraska, is universally regarded as one of the finest prizefighters on the planet, but transcendent stardom has eluded him thus far.
As for Khan, he has always believed that he is an elite fighter, no matter what his actual record says. He's beaten a good number of solid professionals and captured major world titles, but Khan has yet to achieve a signature victory that would stamp his legacy (and no, we're not counting his 2009 victory over a faded Marco Antonio Barrera). That's why he eschewed the local U.K. rivalry with Kell Brook -- against the wishes of his current promoter, Eddie Hearn -- to seek out this seemingly insurmountable challenge.
That's why Crawford-Khan is happening -- they need each other for different reasons.