Terence Crawford's WBO welterweight title defense against former titlist Kell Brook is now official. It's not the fight boxing fans have wanted for Crawford, but it will keep him busy as he waits for a unification bout against Errol Spence Jr. or Manny Pacquiao.
This fight is a pivotal moment of Brook's career, but is he ready to face one of the sport's pound-for-pound best? Does he have a chance to upset Crawford? On the other side, does a victory in this fight do anything for Crawford, who is still hoping for a legacy-defining bout?
Steve Kim and Nick Parkinson break down the Nov. 14 bout.
How does Crawford defeat Brook?
Crawford knocks down Kavaliauskas in seventh
Terence Crawford knocks down Egidijus Kavaliauskas with a strong right hand in the seventh round. For more Top Rank Boxing, sign up for ESPN+: https://plus.espn.com/.
Kim: Just being who he is -- a sound, athletic boxer who is among the most versatile performers in the sport. Unless he starts going backward physically at age 32, it's difficult to see him losing this fight. Last December, before Crawford dismantled Egidijus Kavaliauskas, "Mean Machine" was able to get to him a surprising amount of times in the first half of the fight.
Parkinson: By boxing his usual fight, having plenty of movement and avoiding a slugfest against a bigger opponent. Crawford is one of the most talented boxers in the sport, has shown no signs of vulnerability in recent fights and will be too slick for Brook. Crawford's accuracy with sharp counterpunches, his speed and his strategy in the ring give the Nebraska native all the advantages.
How does Brook defeat Crawford?
Kim: By having the night of his life, turning back the clock and having Crawford overlook him. This is not a knock on Brook, like most other boxers in this weight class, he is a significant underdog to Crawford, one of the elite fighters in the world. If this was the 2014-15 version of Special K," this would be an outstanding matchup. But unfortunately, as mentioned above, a lot has happened since that point in time.
This version of Brook is basically just a sturdier version of Amir Khan, who was stopped by Crawford in 2019.
Parkinson: By disrupting the slick technician's rhythm and hoping Crawford has a bad night. Brook has boxed some of the best in the sport before and made three defenses of the IBF world welterweight title from 2014 to 2017 after beating top contender Shawn Porter for the belt. Brook believes he is good enough to fight at this level, and that he has a point to prove after losing the title to Spence in 2017. Brook told ESPN earlier this year: "I was beating Spence, and then my body gave up; I broke my eye socket for the second fight in a row. If Spence fought me again, the boxing world would really get to know who is better." Brook believes putting on the extra weight to fight Gennady Golovkin at middleweight in 2016, then boiling down to welterweight to face Spence in his next fight, took its toll. Making welterweight again, and how comfortable he is at 147, will be a major factor to how much of a threat Brook can pose against Crawford.
Does a win against Brook do anything for Crawford's legacy?
Crawford, Spence exchange words
Backstage at the Hooker-Saucedo fight, Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. get into an argument that ends with Crawford saying he could knock out Spence.
Kim: Not really -- it's a chance for him to make some money and hopefully set the stage for something bigger in 2021. I don't believe for one second that Crawford is avoiding any of the other marquee welterweights. He is a victim, unfortunately, of the business of boxing.
Parkinson: It adds a bit of shine to Crawford's reputation, but this won't be a fight Crawford will be remembered for. Crawford still needs those fights against Spence or Manny Pacquiao, but at the same time, losing to Brook could damage Crawford's legacy. Brook is a former titleholder, and there will inevitably be comparisons to how Crawford does against Brook and how Spence dealt with the Briton on a cold spring night in Sheffield. Brook looked sharp, rejuvenated and hungry in his last fight, and outside of Pacquiao and Spence, he is the next-best option for Crawford right now.
Is this the right opponent for Brook?
Crawford: I still have a lot to accomplish
Terence Crawford sits down with Andre Ward to discuss what he still wants to achieve in boxing and proving all his doubters wrong.
Kim: Well, if the money is good, maybe it is. This looks like a final payday in a career that, while productive, was a bit disappointing. Would he be better off facing archnemesis Khan in a fight that should've happened years ago in England?
That is another fight that was bogged down in boxing politics and egos, and, to be frank, it damaged both careers. But at least that fight seems far more winnable for Brook at this stage than a Crawford fight, and one that could still hold some interest to the boxing fan base in the U.K.
Parkinson: Yes. Kell is 34, and there have been various stages of his career when he looked done, such as when he was stabbed in the left leg shortly after he won the IBF belt six years ago, or when he suffered broken eye sockets against Golovkin and against Spence. Brook ended 14 months of inactivity in February, during which time Brook told ESPN: "I got a bit down, depressed and fat." After all that, Brook knows he doesn't have much time left in the sport and has given up on a clash with bitter British rival Khan ever being made. Brook craved a fight against Khan since 2016, but terms have never been agreed on. Another option for Brook would have been a clash with English rival Liam Smith at junior middleweight, but the Crawford fight offers more money and prestige.
Who wins and how?
Kim: Unless Crawford slips on a banana peel going into the ring, it's hard to see him losing this fight. Brook, understanding that this is probably his last big opportunity, will put up a spirited effort and, like he did against "GGG" and Spence, will have some good moments. But Crawford will eventually impose his will and his overall skill set to stop Brook between Rounds 7 and 9.
Parkinson: Crawford on points, or by second-half stoppage, possibly because of eye damage to Brook. Each time Brook has stepped up and faced a Tier 1 opponent, against Golovkin and Spence, he suffered a fractured eye socket in stoppage defeats. Brook's win over Porter was six years ago, and Crawford will have to be mighty careless for a shock to unfold.