Terence Crawford wants the big fights but won't sell his soul to get them

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Crawford explains why a clash vs. Spence is inevitable (1:57)

Terence Crawford says a megafight with Errol Spence Jr. is inevitable and vows to defeat the unified champion when the time comes. (1:57)

Terence Crawford unleashes a smile as he hears another one of Errol Spence Jr.'s recent proclamations to "wash" him if the two best welterweights in the world finally face off in the ring.

Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs), the WBO world titleholder, isn't much of a talker. In a boxing world of brash and bravado, Crawford is a bit of an outlier. He wants to do all his damage in the ring.

"He's entitled to feel that way," Crawford says about Spence's comments. "Just like when I called him up and told him I'm going to beat his ass, I'm entitled to feel that way, but the only thing different between me and him is I mean it.

"When that fight happens, everybody is going to see a different side of Terence Crawford that they really haven't seen before, and they are going to see a different side of Errol Spence as well, because I'm going to make him look like an ordinary fighter."

That's the most trash talk you'll get out of Crawford, and he insists these words are more of a promise.

Crawford knows Spence (26-0, 21 KOs), the IBF and WBC welterweight titleholder, is one of the men he needs to beat to become the undisputed welterweight king (Manny Pacquiao, the WBA world titlist, is the other). Beyond being a unification title bout, Crawford-Spence is the fight everyone wants to see.

Spence recently said on an Instagram Live that he wants to fight Crawford or Pacquiao in September or October. Boxing fans have been calling for Spence-Crawford for years. Crawford says that is the fight he has wanted since before he moved up to 147 pounds.

According to Crawford, it's not a hard fight to make, even though the decades-long rivalry between his promotion group, Top Rank, and Spence's PBC has prevented many other top fights from being booked. Most of the top welterweights are with manager Al Haymon's PBC, which puts Crawford at a disadvantage as he looks to face the names everyone wants to see. But Crawford insists if the money is big enough, like it was with the Floyd Mayweather-Pacquiao and Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury bouts, then both sides will make a deal.

"It all comes down to money, you know, who's gonna be the A-side? Who's going to get the higher percentage," Crawford says.

Crawford believes he has proved more in boxing than Spence and deserves to be the A-side. Yet his lack of braggadocios bravado -- something that has been a common boxing staple since Muhammad Ali -- is what some pundits claim prevent him from elevating his name to a more fruitful level. They say if he added that to his persona, Spence-Crawford would make both sides enough money that it wouldn't matter who was the A-side.

"When we get in the ring, I'm gonna beat your ass. Let's just do that. When I say I'm going to f--- you up, I really mean I'm going to f--- you up." Terence Crawford

Over-the-top trash talk has always sold fights. It's not that Crawford doesn't want the bigger profile and the money that comes with it -- he does. But still, Crawford refuses to give in. He did all that in his younger days, and now he wants to be respected and loved outside of the ring, and feared inside of it.

"Why should I have to sell my soul to please and entertain somebody that don't give a f--- about me?" Crawford proclaims. "We are in the entertainment business, and I feel like I'm an entertainer in the ring, and I feel like every time I fight it's an entertaining fight.

"I'm about showing you rather than telling you."

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Why Crawford prefers fight with Pacquiao before Spence

Terence Crawford explains why he'd like to fight the legendary Manny Pacquiao before setting up a megafight with Errol Spence Jr.

Crawford lists Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya as fighters who rose to the top of boxing without all the extra bravado. He would rather end up like them than other elite fighters who were hated as pros, such as Ali and Mike Tyson, and received positive reactions only after they retired.

Crawford is tired of hearing people tell him he can't market himself or that he needs to use his mouth to sell fights.

"When we get in the ring, I'm gonna beat your ass. Let's just do that," Crawford says. "When I say I'm going to f--- you up, I really mean I'm going to f--- you up. I don't want [to create] fake beef so they can say we for real then we at the bar drinking beers together afterward."

Crawford understands the biggest knock on him is the lack of marquee names he has fought. His biggest "name" wins so far -- Amir Khan, Jeff Horn and Yuriorkis Gamboa -- leave much to be desired. He claims it's a product of fighters saying no to his challenges. Then he delivers his next two challenges: Pacquiao and Spence, in that order.

"I'll say Pacquiao first because, you know, he don't have that much longer in the sport. And I want that name on my resume," Crawford said. "And Spence, because, you know, that's the fight that everybody wants to see."

Crawford doesn't yet know when his next fight will be, but he's training as if he's preparing for one next week. He says the coronavirus pandemic hasn't impacted his day-to-day routine at all, noting he and his kids still leave the house as normal. He says he goes to his boxing gym daily to stay in fighting shape. His focus is still on being the undisputed welterweight champion of the world.

See, Crawford already has the welterweight division mapped out. He rattles off his top five without any hesitation: himself, Spence, Pacquiao, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, in that order, then proceeds to break them down one-by-one.

Spence: "When you look at the matchup with me and Spence, you got two strong fighters. He's strong, I'm strong. He punches hard, I punch hard. I got ring IQ, he got ring IQ. But I think what separates us two is I'm faster, I'm smarter, I'm slicker. I got more heart. I'm all-around versatile. You know, I could switch it up. I don't think you can keep up with what I'm bringing to the table."

Pacquiao: "One of the greatest skill sets of all time. For him to move up in so many divisions, and at the same time, he has dominated as he has in the past years. ... I've been trying to fight Pacquiao since 2015. Back when I was trying to fight them, they wouldn't fight me. But they were fighting guys like Brandon Rios and Jessie Vargas and Tim Bradley. So I don't know what it was, but I just think that they don't like my style or whatever the case may be. But now that he's at the end of his career and the last leg of his run, it may be the money. He surprised a lot of people with the win over Keith Thurman. A lot of people thought Keith Thurman was going to go in there and just knock him out. –†acquiao showed glimpses of the old Pacquiao that got him to the top."

Garcia: "Danny Garcia is a great, great fighter. I've been telling everybody about Danny Garcia since a lot of people, as always, saying [Garcia was] cherry picking [his opponents] and whatnot. Me and Danny fought twice [in the amateurs], so I actually know what threats he presents. Danny got good timing. He can box, he can bang. He's strong. He could take a punch, he can dish a punch. He's always in shape. When you fight Danny, you gonna have to be on your A-game because he's gonna bring it. ... I just feel like my style, his style is good for each other. You've got two counterpunchers, two strong fighters that got little history behind that. But anything Danny can do, I can do as well. What separates us is my boxing IQ. And me being able to switch up and being able to box at my speed."

Porter: "Everybody thought Errol was just gonna sit there and whitewash him and knock him out. And I was just like, 'Y'all crazy.' I've seen Shawn rise to the occasion so many times. Time after time, after time, in the amateurs. And he was fighting 165. And he was the smallest 165-pounder ever. So to see him beat guys like Daniel Garcia, it was just like, you know, unheard of. I always knew Shawn was going to be a tough fight for anybody."

Two boxers not on Crawford's top five are Keith Thurman and Kell Brook. He says "inactivity" is the biggest reason for them both. Brook is a name mentioned by his promoter, Bob Arum, but that is low on Crawford's list of priorities. He'd prefer Pacquiao, Spence, Garcia and Porter over Brook.

At 32, Crawford isn't changing his ways. He'll remain the hard-punching, slick and smart champion from Omaha, Nebraska, without the extra talk. He's eager to put a few more big-name fighters on his record and cement his spot as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Ultimately, Crawford wants to be remembered as a boxing legend.

But before you ask, no, he won't sell his soul to do any of that.