Terence “Bud” Crawford (27-0, 19KOs) is officially set to meet “Hammerin” Hank Lundy in the second defense of his WBO junior welterweight title on February 27th. The HBO main event will take place at Madison Square Garden’s Theater in New York.
This is a significant moment in Crawford’s career as he ventures into a new market. In reality, Crawford’s team has done little to expand his reach and has kept his market fairly shallow since he burst onto the scene in a major way with an epic 2014 campaign.
In that campaign, Crawford became a major player and was seen as a fighter with star athletic abilities, and he was given a real push from HBO as Top Rank began to realize his full potential. However, in his five total fights spanning 2014-2015, Crawford fought in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska three times. Obviously, it was a chance for him to secure his hometown power and fully display his capability to draw in his own backyard.
The move seemed to pay off and most viewed it as a smart way to take advantage of a potentially new and burgeoning market formally unknown in the world of major boxing sites.
But if “Bud” is to become a major star with crossover potential, he will have to dip into other arenas (no pun intended). That is what makes this New York outing so important, as the Big Apple has long been known for its attendance prowess and financially lucrative acumens. It is a major site for made stars and those on the rise.
“I’ve always wanted to fight in New York — at The Garden — even as a small boy. Fighting in New York tells me where my career is really at and where we are going. I can get a big fan base here. It’s very exciting,” Crawford said.
There has been criticism from some that Crawford doesn’t possess the charisma outside the ring to be a huge star. It is true that his personality has come across as dry in the past with the seriousness of his demeanor a reflection of his in-ring attitude. Simply put, he is all business all the time when he steps in between the ropes, but Crawford has opened up a bit more and he seems to be getting more and more comfortable with the high-profile nature of his occupation.
There is no doubting the importance of personality for an athlete facing public scrutiny. Fans, especially casual fans, have to be invested in a fighter in order for them to care about any and all promotions. Still, Crawford’s ability is special. In fact, it could be special enough to negate any charismatic shortcomings Crawford faces. His highlight reel is his selling point, and that cannot be taken for granted because selling a fight hinges on a fighter’s ability to maintain the product.
Adrien Broner is a captivating figure, but if he isn’t the best fighter then his run will only last as long as his inability to avoid the best. Broner has solidified himself as a draw, but for how much longer will people tune in if they know he is not the best?
Crawford might not make as much money now as he will in the future, but the longer he can market himself as the best the more money he stands to make. From that standpoint, Crawford is as appealing and magnetic as they come. He isn’t trying to make a quick buck off of clever press conference repartee, nor is he only as good as his ability to create controversial situations. Crawford is a long-term investment built on the premise that he is one of the few fighters that can claim to be the best and then be candidly promoted that way.
“I wouldn’t be in this sport if I didn’t think I was the best. If you don’t think that you are the best then you are in the wrong sport. I feel like I am one of the guys that will put boxing on my back and carry the sport. I want to do that.”
So what if he missed out on the Pacquiao sweepstakes. Crawford’s appeal and legacy will be defined by much more than a single fight.