Terence Crawford, one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound, unified the four major world titles at junior welterweight in August and, with nothing else to prove at 140 pounds and no major fight in that division in the offing, he is now headed up to the 147-pound welterweight division.
Crawford vacated his WBO version of the title on Thursday and was installed by the organization as the mandatory challenger to welterweight world titleholder Jeff Horn at its annual convention, which is taking place this week aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean.
Crawford had already vacated his IBF title and will relinquish his WBC and WBA titles in the coming days, Top Rank president Carl Moretti told ESPN.
“Crawford literally dominated and cleaned out a division,” Moretti said. “There are no more challenges left for him at 140 pounds and, physically, his body is ready to move to 147 pounds and do the same thing he did at 135 and 140 — dominate a division.
“Now he’s pound-for-pound the best in the world and I think you’ll see more of that at 147 pounds. So he has vacated the WBO title and he will be notifying the WBC and WBA shortly.”
It is normal for the WBO to install titleholders in a lighter weight division as the No. 1 contender in the next division up the scale if the fighter asks for the position, which is what Crawford did.
So he is on the path to challenge the winner of the fight between Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) and British challenger Gary Corcoran (17-1, 7 KOs), who are slated to meet on Dec. 13 in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia, the same city where he controversially dethroned Manny Pacquiao in July.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who also co-promotes Horn, said Crawford would travel with him to Australia for Horn-Corcoran, which he said would be televised live on an ESPN network in the early morning United States time.
“I want Terence to see Australia and I want the people in Australia to see Terence,” Arum said.
The target date for Crawford to challenge the Horn-Corcoran winner — Horn is a significant favorite — is March 10 on ESPN as part of Top Rank’s long-term deal with the network to carry its fights. Arum said the fight could be in Australia or in the United States.
“I think Crawford is an enormous talent,” Arum said. “I know that if he wins the welterweight title I am going to look to match him with him a number of fighters that are managed by Al Haymon, like (former titlist) Danny Garcia, (unified titleholder) Keith Thurman and a huge fight would be one with (titleholder Errol) Spence. That would be a big pay-per-view fight.”
Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs), 30, of Omaha, Nebraska, won a lightweight world title from Ricky Burns by decision on the road in Scotland in 2014 and defended the belt twice. Then Crawford moved up to junior welterweight and knocked out Thomas Dulorme for a vacant world title in 2015.
Crawford made six title defenses, including a lopsided decision against Viktor Postol to unify two belts in July 2016 and a one-punch, body-shot knockout of Julius Indongo in the third round on ESPN on Aug. 19 in Lincoln, Nebraska, to add Indongo’s two belts to his collection.
With the victory against Indongo, Crawford became only the third fighter to hold all four major belts simultaneously; the others are Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor, both at middleweight. But Crawford could not keep the titles together for long. He inherited an overdue mandatory fight against Sergey Lipinets and was ordered to begin negotiations almost immediately. Since Crawford was not sure what he wanted to do, and would not have been ready to fight the virtually unknown Lipinets in the timetable laid out by the IBF, he vacated.