Terence Crawford Aware of Critics Heading into Welterweight Title Fight

Undefeated welterweight champion Terence Crawford has been criticized for the lack of a marquee opponent during his dominant run in the boxing ring.

Updated: Dec. 12, 2019 • 12:40 PM ET

Madison Square Garden will host this weekend’s welterweight title fight.

Madison Square Garden will host two title fights this Saturday with a main event featuring Terence Crawford, one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, defending his WBO welterweight title against undefeated No. 1 contender Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) is coming off a sixth-round TKO victory over Amir Khan in April, his sixth straight finish of a fight. He’ll defend the WBO welterweight title for the third time after being a WBO lightweight champion from 2014 to 2015 and the unified light welterweight champion from 2015 to 2017.

While Crawford is undefeated and a three-weight world champion, he still receives criticism from pundits for not having a career-defining fight or opponent. There are big names in the welterweight division that would represent such a win, but Crawford doesn’t think he needs to fight them for his legacy.

“It doesn’t bother me as much as people think,” Crawford said via Boxingnews24.com. “I’ve accomplished more than all those welterweights over there except Pacquiao. If you look at what I’ve accomplished in the sport of boxing and look at what Errol [Spence Jr.], Keith [Thurman], Shawn [Porter], Danny Garcia and all those welterweights over there [with Premier Boxing Champions], I’ve accomplished WAY more than each and every one of them except for Pacquiao. I don’t need them.”

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While his critics believe his resume lacks a victory over a big name, Crawford has defeated anyone who will step in the ring with him. The 32-year-old moved up to welterweight and has fought the fighters who have said yes to a fight with him, and the list isn’t long. However, he will have his hands full on Saturday with a hungry, undefeated fighter that has something to prove.

Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) is coming off a majority draw against Ray Robinson in March. Despite the draw, he still remains the mandatory challenger by the WBO and Crawford could have faced being stripped of his title without booking the fight.

The 31-year-old Lithuanian fighter has built his record on fighting lesser competition, but believes he will shock the world with a victory over Crawford.

"This is a great opportunity for me against the world's best fighter,” Kavaliauskas said via Boxingscene.com. “When I win, I will be considered one of the world's best fighters. Terence Crawford is a great fighter, which is why I wanted this fight.

“I am ranked No. 1 for a reason. I am here for a reason, and I can't wait for Saturday night. The way to win a title is to fight the best, and Terence is the best welterweight in the world. I want that title, and I will be the first Lithuanian-born boxer ever to win a world title."

A second title fight will be on Saturday’s card, as IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey will defend the belt against undefeated challenger Teofimo Lopez Jr.

Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) won the vacant IBF title in February with a second-round TKO of Isa Chaniev and successfully defended the belt in June with an eighth-round knockout of Raymundo Beltran. The Ghanaian fighter’s two losses came in back-to-back fights in 2016 by split decision to Robert Easter Jr. for the IBF lightweight title and three-time title challenger Denis Shafikov.

Yet in still, the 32-year-old Commey hasn’t let his recent success go to his head, as he’s taking Lopez seriously.

“My co-manager Michael Amoo-Bediako took me to MSG to see him fight Edis Tatli,” Commey said via The Ring. “Tatli did not put up much of a challenge, so (Lopez) was hard to assess on that. But from what everyone is saying, he is a very talented boxer, so I will not be taking him lightly.”

The winner of this fight has been linked to a fight with WBO and WBA title-holder and pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko, more so for Lopez due to his phenom status.

Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Masayoshi Nakatani in July. The 22-year-old has turned a successful amateur career into an undefeated professional record and his first major title fight. Lopez, however, isn’t looking past Commey and ahead to Lomachenko.

“I really don’t want to talk about Lomachenko or answer any questions about him,” Lopez said via Yahoo Sports. “I’m fighting Richard Commey. That’s the only thing that matters to me. That’s where my focus is.”

• Start time/how to watch: The main card can be seen this Saturday on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET

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