Crawford kayoes foe; fight vs Pacquiao next looms large

Crawford kayoes foe; fight vs Pacquiao next looms large

Boxing star and PH Sen. Manny Pacquiao (left) and Terence Crawford

By Tracy Cabrera

UNDEFEATED World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford won his first fight of 2020 and the champion is confident this victory will land him a fight with Pinoy boxing superstar and Senator Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao, who was the opponent he originally wanted but couldn’t meet because of the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic.

Crawford successfully defended his WBO crown with a stunning fourth-round knockout of British upstart Ezekiel ‘Kell’ Brook in Las Vegas just a fraction over one minute in the round.

The American champ shook off ring rust from a long layoff due to the coronavirus epidemic with a right jab and a flurry of short lefts that sent the former welterweight king from England to the canvas at the boxing ring set up at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.

Seeing Brook’s condition after the solid attack from Crawford, referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight at exactly 1:14 of the round.

The 33-year-old started slowly, looking for an opening to try and take advantage of his superior speed and skill. Brook’s game plan appeared to be working until Crawford seized his chance midway through the fourth with a devastating right jab to the face.

“I was trying to gauge the distance. He had good distance. I was trying to find my rhythm. That is why it was so competitive at first. I couldn’t get my shots off,” Crawford described the frustrating first couple of rounds.

Organizers decided to allow 100 spectators, including family members, into the Nevada casino to watch the fight in the midst of a pandemic that has killed 1.3 million around the world, including 245,000 Americans.

Crawford improved to 37-0 with 28 knockouts despite a size disadvantage against the bigger Brooks, who has fought as high as middleweight.

Brooks had a different trainer for this fight because his regular didn’t want to come to the US due to the coronavirus.

He suffered his third loss in his last five fights and his record dropped to 39-3 with 27 KOs.

“I got caught with a shot I didn’t see. I have always said that if I am in a fight, and am going to lose, I am going to go out on my shield,” the Brit boxer enthused.

Crawford was making his first ring appearance since December 2019 when he beat Egidijus Kavaliauskas and he hopes he doesn’t have to wait as long for his next one—a possible face-off with the fighting senator from the Philippines.

“I’m confident this victory will land a fight with Manny,” he said with eyes glinting.

Crawford said the circumstances had now changed, and he would reopen talks with Bob Arum and Pacquiao for a fight in the Middle East, maybe Qatar, in the first half of next year.

“So now we can go back to the drawing board and try to revisit a fight with Manny Pacquiao,” he added.

Arum, who manages Pacquiao, said Saturday the fight is a real possibility, but didn’t go into details. He said previously it could be in March or April in Qatar.

“The money was there. The fight was going to take place in the Middle East. Then the minister of health said we can’t do it because we can’t guarantee that spectators would be allowed,” Arum said.

“Now they called us and said if Terence is successful, then we want to resume talks and see if we can do it in the spring,” Pacquiao’s manager concluded. (AI/MTVN)

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