Can Crawford defend his WBO welterweight title against the Bolton-born boxer?
Last weekend saw Lomachenko swat aside Anthony Crolla in a one sided mismatch. Pretty much everyone saw that fight for what it was but unfortunately for us the plucky Mancunian wasn’t able to keep his guard tight enough to see us into the 6th round a bit of profit. However, here are Oddschecker we are raring to go again this weekend, with Crawford vs Khan presenting a slightly more intriguing matchup. Whilst Crawford is still a very short odds on favourite, Khan is much more live in this fight.
Crawford is a master counterpuncher who has quick hands and feet, the ability to switch hit and has the power to turn his opponent’s lights off. Furthermore, there is no sign of Crawford’s punch power diminishing when campaigning up at welterweight (the majority of his fights have been at light welterweight or lightweight). Both of Crawford’s welterweight victories have come inside the distance against two fighters who are big for the weight (Jeff Horn who Crawford stopped in June of last year has since campaigned at middleweight). So punching power should not be an issue for Crawford and everyone knows Khan is vulnerable when up against a heavy puncher. Punching power aside, Crawford’s counterpunching skills could also really hurt Khan. Amir Khan relies on his hand speed and throwing combinations to prevent himself from being countered; he will rattle off 5, 6 or even 7 punches at such speed that his opponent has not got the chance to reply. Khan will then jump back out of range and move. This style of fighting is Khan’s natural instinct, even when hurt Khan often looks to throw punches and fight rather than clinch or move around. Against Crawford, this could be his undoing. Crawford’s countering ability is on a different plane to anyone else Khan has faced in his career. If Khan dives in with a combination of 5 or 6 shots Crawford has the speed to match Khan and the power to really hurt him. For Khan to have a chance in this fight he needs to box a lot more savvy, using more feints and busy feet to keep Crawford guessing.
A good measuring stick for Khan is the way he boxed against Canelo. He actually had lots of success in the early part of that fight, before being stopped in the 6th round. He was more patient and measured in his approach and showed he has the ability to outbox almost anyone on his day. As a punter, there is a massive part of me that sees huge value in Khan at 9/1 (Betfair), and can genuinely see him causing an upset on his best form. Those who want to take a punt on Khan can get great value, with Khan to win by decision (the most likely outcome in the event of a Khan victory) at 15/1 with Marathon Bet.
Crawford’s outright odds make him unattractive to back, so value for backing Crawford needs to be found elsewhere. In terms of how the fight pans out, Crawford is likely to take the early rounds easy, getting a look at Khan who I expect to lead on the cards through 4 rounds. Once Crawford has settled into his groove, he will start setting traps and timing Khan, using his immaculate footwork and balance to get a variation of shots off when Khan moves in. He’s likely to start to take over the fight from the 4th onwards and win a late stoppage (Crawford rnds 9-12 is 7/2 with Sky Bet) or decision victory (Crawford pts is 4/1 with Sporting Bet). Crawford has shown already that given half an opportunity he really puts his foot on the gas and goes after his opponent when he hurts him, all the while maintaining his form and balance. This, alongside Khan’s shakey whiskers, means the late stoppage markets look a good bet.
If, like me, you are an old school romantic Khan fan and want to have a little nibble on him upsetting the odds, stick him in the Brit Boxer Treble (BBT©) with Dereck Chisora (1/9 against Senad Gashi) and Dave Allen (4/9 against Lucas Browne). Both Chisora and Allen are in tough fights against opponents who are a handful, but the treble pays 14.54/1 for what would be a great night for British boxers.