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By John Gatling
Count yours truly among those who decided to drink the Viktor Postol kool-aid, believing he was some sort of special Sergey Kovalev/Wladimir Klitschko hybrid at super lightweight about to be unveiled by legendary trainer Freddie Roach ahead of his face-off with rising star Terence Crawford.
Two things about that. Either he really is – and Crawford is in fact truly special, or, he’s not even close to that at all, and Freddie Roach is very much in decline as a cornerman.
But it is generally accepted that there are three sides to every story: yours, whoever you are arguing with at the barbershop, and the truth.
Let’s get to some facts about Roach. He has guided 27 fighters to world championships and presided over the majority of Manny Pacquiao’s incredibly historic career in the annals of boxing.
On Wednesday, Roach told “On The Ropes With Jenna J” that ‘a 100% healthy Pacquiao would destroy Mayweather’. But it’s worth noting that a day prior to that, he was telling Steve Kim with boxingscene.com that the 28-year-old Crawford is ‘a very difficult fight’ and that he isn’t sure about that match-up right now. Then again, he knows pushing for a Mayweather sequel would be like “The Last Supper” from his meal ticket.
The thing that really got me about the little chat Roach had with Kim, is that he ended his apprehension of Crawford by stating he’s ‘like a young Floyd Mayweather right now’. I see flashes of Pernell Whitaker with Crawford, only a meaner and more offensive one who isn’t as good defensively.
At age 28, Mayweather was already an all-time great and quite possibly the greatest featherweight champion of all time presiding at 140.
It is now clear that Postol beat a faded Lucas Matthysse, and that many of us fell in love with the uppercut that eviscerated Selcuk Aydin.
What troubles me about Crawford is what he didn’t do after four tactical rounds and a dominant round five. Instead of going for greatness and firing away, he put his guns on safety and acted like he was in a tune-up fight on FOX.
Again, at the same age as Crawford, Pacquiao had already gone through the gauntlet of all-time greats Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera a number of times.
Before Postol, Crawford beat solid contenders Hank Lundy, Dierry Jean and Raymond Beltran. I have to point out that the last two were Pacquiao sparring partners.
Seated ringside on press row for Canelo vs. Khan in Las Vegas, I ran into Teddy Atlas, colorful ESPN analyst and trainer of former WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley. I asked Atlas how confident he was in victory going into their April 9 bout. Atlas said a lot (he does that), but what stuck out the most was his feeling that he’d prepared the strongest version Pacquiao had ever faced, and the best welterweight in the world.
Perhaps the best way to really know about Crawford is to pair him against Bradley.
Bob Arum, in his haste to make Crawford a superstar, certainly has to consider what Pacquiao may still be of doing to Crawford– which is savagely beating him. Crawford has never been in with a legend or bonafide A fighter, let alone the greatest southpaw of all-time.
Consider too that Pacquiao has never been a true welterweight, so to face him at super lightweight on Nov. 5 where he was most lethal could be a disaster. Then again, he could prove himself worthy of greatness against a Pacquiao whose legacy is already complete regardless.
I don’t know whose kool-aid to drink anymore.
(Ringobserver is proud to present the superb boxing writing of one of the best in the business: John Gatling aka Taz)