While boxing’s only eight-division world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KO’s) may be busy preparing for an April 9 bout against American Timothy Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KO’s), one can’t help but wonder about the fight that could have been.
A few months ago, Pacquiao was faced with a choice of opponents for his farewell fight. There was his former training mate Amir Khan, who had lobbied for a big fight with either Mayweather or Pacquiao for the greater part of the last two years. There was Bradley, who, when you get down to it, lost to Pacquiao twice, handily. And then there was a young, up-and-coming junior welterweight from Omaha, Nebraska named Terence Crawford (27-0, 19 KO’s).
While Bradley ended up being the final choice, many fans and observers felt the most compelling fight on the table for Pacquiao was indeed the undefeated Crawford.
Yet despite Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum offering Crawford as a viable opponent, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach feels Arum didn’t really want to throw Crawford in with the Filipino ring icon.
“We did say yes to the boy from Omaha,” said Roach, in a recent interview with On The Ropes Boxing Radio. “And I heard [Crawford] said yes too, but I think Bob [Arum] might be protecting him a little bit right now because he might be his next ace in the hole, might be the next future fighter.”
Roach wasn’t wrong.
Crawford is the future of the sport and once Pacquiao is long gone, he’ll take up the mantle for Arum and will pick up where Pacquiao left off. The talent is certainly there, and at just 28 years old, Crawford has already accomplished much in the sport.
He’s already a two-division champion with wins over tough opponents Raymundo Beltran, Dierry Jean and most notably Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Yet aside from those few names, Roach feels Crawford may not have been ready for Pacquiao had their fight materialized.
“Crawford is a very good fighter. I like him a lot and so forth. But I just don’t feel he has the experience to beat Pacquiao right now,” said Roach. “And we did say yes to that fight also, and they told us it wasn’t available. So we went to Bradley.” – By Carlos Cinco
Follow this writer on Twitter: @CarlosCincoFCB