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Terence Crawford, ‘next American boxing superstar,’ puts his title on the line Saturday

Terence Crawford
Terence Crawford is unbeaten in 28 pro fights with 20 wins by knockout.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Terence Crawford has shown the potential to become “the next American boxing superstar,” promoter Bob Arum said.

What the 28-year-old Nebraska product has displayed in winning his first 28 fights, 20 by knockout, and the World Boxing Organization junior-welterweight championship is skill that begs for greater attention.

That’s the perplexing part of Crawford’s title-unification showdown Saturday against unbeaten World Boxing Council 140-pound champion Viktor Postol (28-0, 12 KOs) of the Ukraine, a tough, calculating fighter trained by Freddie Roach.

The bout is on HBO pay-per-view with a $59.95 price tag, one that may be prohibitive to fans who aren’t familiar with Crawford.

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“All that other extra stuff around boxing … I don’t worry about that,” Crawford said. “I just worry about fighting.

“When it’s time to fight, it’s time to fight. Those other things don’t even cross my mind.”

HBO has been dealing with early year budget restraints and by putting the Crawford-Postal fight card on pay-per-view, the public pays most of the fighters’ purses. Arum said the bout needs around 80,000 buys to become a break-even proposition. 

HBO is on pace for the same 16 live boxing cards it broadcast in 2015 but is reserving its license-fee funds in hopes of landing separate late-year fight cards featuring popular champions Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

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“You have two undefeated champions, one trained by the greatest trainer alive today,” HBO Executive Vice President of Sports Peter Nelson said of the Crawford-Postal bout. “The quality of competition in the division is unrivaled and that’s what generates and dictates the demand.”

Arum also defended the pay-per-view bout by asking a group of mixed martial arts reporters why such criticism isn’t aimed at the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which offers pay-per-view fight cards on a monthly basis — some much better than others.

Whatever the financial details, Crawford is embracing his debut as a pay-per-view fighter.

“As you keep winning and rise to the top,” he said, “you’re going to be on pay-per-view. It comes with the territory. I look forward to doing more of it.”

A victory Saturday makes Crawford one of the front-runners to fight Manny Pacquiao in the former eight-division champion’s comeback fight, scheduled for Nov. 5 in Las Vegas.

“Terence is one of the great practitioners of the American [boxing] style — he has that rhythm,” Arum said. “It was developed by [Sugar Ray] Robinson, [Muhammad] Ali, [Sugar Ray] Leonard, [Floyd] Mayweather — movement, rhythm,” Arum said. “Like jazz, it allows for more improvisation than the structure you’ll see in Postol’s Eastern European style. Terence Crawford can change from right-handed to southpaw, from boxing to attacking, in the middle of a round.”

Crawford said he’s confident that, “every time I get in the ring, I feel I’m better than the other person. I might not be faster. But I’m better. Speed only wins half the fights. Power only wins half the fights. But if you can out-think your opponent, that’s the difference. ... I can punch, I’m fast, I can move, I can counter.  The ring is like my home.”

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His style is to react accordingly at any given moment, as seen in his signature 2014 TKO victory over Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa, who was knocked down four times by Crawford.

“You train for a 12-round war,” Crawford said, “but if you have the opportunity to finish the fight prematurely, you should.”

His longtime trainer Brian McIntyre maintains his attentive student has a more impressive boxing education than the 6/1 underdog Postol. This will be only Postol’s fourth fight with Roach, a trainer best known as Pacquiao’s cornerman.

“Me and Terence are like Freddie and Manny,” McIntyre said. “We notice everything. Freddie doesn’t know [anything] about Postol. You’ll see the difference.

“And now it’ll be perfect timing for us to get to Pacquiao … If they do offer the fight, we’ll [beat Pacquiao] too.”

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire


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