Terence Crawford returns to the ring on Saturday night, looking to unify the light welterweight titles when he takes on Viktor Postol. Already viewed as one of boxing’s best young stars, the WBO champ can further solidify himself as a top pound-for-pound fighter and potentially earn the biggest fight of his career with a win over the Ukranian.
Crawford, 28, enters Saturday’s fight with a perfect record, having knocked out Hank Lundy on Feb. 27 to improve to 28-0. He’s dominated the 140-pound division, successfully defending his title five straight times, recording four of his 20 career knockouts when he’s had the belt. Crawford’s success has turned him into a main event attraction, and his fight against Postol will headline an HBO pay-per-view at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Even though he’s taking on another undefeated champion, Crawford is a heavy favorite. He’s got -600 betting odds to win the unification fight, via Bovada.lv. While Postol has a height advantage of 3 inches and a reach advantage of 3.5 inches, Crawford is considered the more polished boxer and looks poised to land a bigger fight in the near future.
“There is no pressure on me being looked at as boxing’s next superstar, but there is a lot of hard work in becoming one," Crawford said, via BoxingScene. "I’m really excited to be on the big stage and I’m on that big stage because I paid my dues in the gym and in the ring. That’s the reason I have accomplished so much as a fighter — pride of performance — and that’s why I am going to win on July 23. "
With his knockout power, Crawford brings an exciting style to the ring, having knocked out three of his last five opponents before the 10th round. But the champ makes his living off his ability to avoid getting hit. According to CompuBox, Crawford’s opponents miss on 81 percent of their punches, ranking him second in all of boxing. He’s sixth by allowing just 7.5 punches per round.
If Crawford gets by Postol, a fight against an all-time great might await him. Along with welterweight champion Jessie Vargas, Crawford is being considered as Manny Pacquiao’s opponent for when the Filipino fighter returns to the ring later this year.
"A lot of it depends on if Manny wants to go down to 140. If he decides to go to 140 and Crawford wins, that could be the fight, but if he says no, says, 'Because of the Senate, I’m not going to be able to get down to 140 comfortably,' then he’ll fight against Vargas,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said, via The Los Angeles Times.
A potential fight against Pacquiao assumes that Crawford wins on Saturday, but Postol isn’t ready to concede defeat. Just like Crawford, Postol has 28 wins and no losses on his ledger, and the 32-year-old doesn’t view himself as the underdog, despite his +400 odds.
“He’s fought more in the United States. He’s fighting in his backyard as an American. If you consider and ask the people Europe, they would say that I am the favorite,” Postol told SportsGrid.
Postol is coming off a 10th-round knockout of Lucas Matthysse, recording just his second stoppage in his last seven fights. He’ll give Crawford one of the biggest challenges he’s faced to date, but he doesn’t have the skills to defeat one of the sport’s top athletes.
Prediction: Crawford by late-round TKO