By Elliot Worsell


FOR Terence Crawford, the hard work was meant to have been done last July. That was when he agreed to fight Errol Spence, his long-time welterweight rival, and also when he beat him, rather emphatically inside nine rounds.

Following that, the assumption was that Crawford, a 35-year-old who had taken the scenic route to stardom, would now reap the rewards of a) finally fighting his main rival and b) making the act of beating him look easy. That he did so in Las Vegas, the so-called home of boxing, only added to the sense of Crawford elevating his profile, as did the very nature of the performance, which had many people, including this writer, calling it one of the best they had ever witnessed.

Given all that, then, it should have been as easy for Crawford to make his next move as it was reading each of Spence’s moves on July 29. With bragging rights now his, and with him now established as the world’s best welterweight, the shots should have been Crawford’s to call and there should have been a yearning, at least on the part of fans, to see him back in the ring against big names in legacy-defining fights.

That, however, has not been the case. In fact, while it is true that inactivity is common with most boxers these days, we have still to learn anything about Crawford’s next move or indeed his future plans. Worse, when trying to hypothesise and play matchmaker on his behalf, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find names and realistic opportunities for the man from Omaha.

That’s strange, perhaps, when considering how significantly his stock grew seven months ago, but it’s the reality all the same; something Crawford, 40-0 (31), can seemingly do nothing about. It comes even more into focus, too, when you appreciate the options available for someone like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, for example, a fighter who, despite Crawford winning the heart of Las Vegas last year, remains the biggest money-maker in the sport and the true darling of Sin City. For him, Alvarez, there is no shortage of potential opponents and all the Mexican must decide is firstly the promoter/platform with whom he wants to work and then, after that, which opponent he will pick from a shortlist that isn’t that short at all. Top of that list currently sit Jaime Munguia, Edgar Berlanga, David Benavidez and Jermall Charlo. There will be others as well, meaning Alvarez’s future is as good as sorted for however long he wishes to stay active and make money in the sport.

Lucky Boy: Alvarez has options aplenty (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Crawford, on the other hand, is granted no such luxury. In fact, one could argue that Alvarez, in beating Jermell Charlo in September, inadvertently robbed Crawford of what could have been a potential and worthy opponent in 2024; one Crawford was even lining up during the beatdown of Spence.

As well as Charlo for now being taken off the table, there are other dead ends for Crawford, including Australia’s Tim Tszyu, the WBO super-welterweight champion who is booked to fight Keith Thurman on March 30 in Las Vegas. Another, meanwhile, is Errol Spence, the man Crawford dominated back in July. Spence, although initially keen to rematch Crawford, has since suffered an injury or two and appears in no fit state to reunite with his conqueror anytime soon.

Besides, it would be hard to look forward to the prospect of Crawford vs. Spence II happening either this year or any year. Unfortunately for both, so dominant was Crawford the first time around, the idea of a rematch just doesn’t appeal, with Crawford in many ways falling victim to his own brilliance; robbed, that is, of the chance to create a multi-fight rivalry with an opponent due to him winning the first encounter so easily.

Crawford dominates Spence in Las Vegas (Getty Images)

Similarly, fights against the likes of Tszyu or Jaron “Boots” Ennis appeal only by virtue of the unknown element – coupled with the need to see Crawford fight someone, anyone. Taken in isolation, those fights struggle to create a huge buzz, nor do they seem in any way earned on the part of either Tszyu or Ennis. Conversely, whereas Crawford paid his dues before hitting his jackpot fight, there is a feeling with the likes of Tszyu and Ennis that they would have found their way to Crawford’s door more by default than by any sort of achievement. Rather than equals, they would instead share more in common with slot machine lurkers, waiting for their moment to pounce before capitalising on another man’s impatience.

Which is no fault of theirs, of course, for they are both still building, learning, improving. Nor is it the fault of Crawford that his division is currently light on competition and that his career-defining rivalry – supposed career-defining rivalry – was put to bed within just nine rounds. Crawford did what he had to do that night in Las Vegas and did it well. Possibly too well, as it goes.

Now, as a result, the 36-year-old must wait and see what opportunities emerge in 2024, all the while cursing the luck others, like Canelo Alvarez, have when it comes to making decisions and controlling their own destiny. Even that fight, by the way, against Alvarez, seemed a distinct possibility for Crawford just a few months ago. However, with Canelo’s apparent desire to escape Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) made public this week, you can likely scratch that off, too, which leaves poor “Bud” Crawford to sit alone at the table and wonder, Is it me? Or is it them?