Terence Crawford will defend his WBO welterweight world title in April against Amir Khan, as the two fighters announced that they will face off in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing pay-per-view card.
While a venue for the fight hasn’t yet been determined, promoter Bob Arum told ESPN that the fight would take place either at one of MGM Resorts’ properties in Las Vegas, or at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Khan Chooses Title Shot Over UK Rival
The fight will be part of the first ESPN pay-per-view under a new deal between the sports network and Top Rank.
Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) was long expected to fight super welterweight Kell Brook (38-2, 26 KOs) in a bout that would have been a massive rivalry event between two of the biggest names in British boxing. Ultimately, however, Khan decided to go with an even bigger fight, even if it might disappoint some of his home fans.
“The decision as to fighting Kell Brook or Crawford has been one of the most difficult decisions of my career to date,” Khan said during a Tuesday press conference held in London to announce the fight. “Clearly, the UK fans want to see Khan versus Brook, but I could not turn down the opportunity to fight for the WBO title.”
Crawford Struggles to Find Elite Opponent
Instead, Khan has taken on a much bigger challenge in Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), a 31-year-old southpaw who is widely regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. Crawford has won his last three fights – all against previously undefeated opponents – by knockout, most recently stopping Jose Benavidez Jr. by 12th round KO in October.
While Crawford has been looking to fight other welterweight titleholders, rights deals currently make that difficult to pull off: while he is tied to ESPN, other champions in the division like Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman have contracts with Premier Boxing Champions. That left Khan – a reasonable contender in his own right, and a former unified world champion – as the best available option.
“It’s always been my goal to fight the best fighters out there, and I look at Amir Khan as one of the top fighters in my division,” Crawford said at the press conference. “I know some people are writing him off, but I am by no means overlooking him.”
Crawford Opens as Heavy Favorite
According to ratings site BoxRec, Crawford is currently regarded as the top welterweight in the world, while the 32-year-old Khan is ranked 11th.
While the fight should draw attention for the names alone, most observers think that Khan will have a difficult time dealing with Crawford. Bovada quickly posted odds on the fight, making Crawford a massive -850 favorite, while listing Khan at +525.
Still, Khan says he believes he has every chance of pulling off what would be an upset win.
“I know that this is a dangerous fight and if I switch off I will get hurt,” Khan said. “But I can win this fight. I wouldn’t take this fight if I didn’t think I could win.”