Terence Crawford can punch ticket to a Pacquiao fight Saturday

Boxer Terence Crawford attends the premiere of BET original news documentary "Ali: The People's Champ" during UrbanWorld Film Festival on Sept. 23 in New York.

Boxer Terence Crawford attends the premiere of BET original news documentary “Ali: The People’s Champ” during UrbanWorld Film Festival on Sept. 23 in New York.

(Bennett Raglin / Getty Images)

Funny how things work out.

Beyond the wisdom of friends and family who pressed Terence Crawford to devote himself to his gifts as a boxer, it was Crawford’s time in the Indio training camp of current welterweight world champion Timoty Bradley four years ago that illustrated how a champion should conduct his business.

Now, in the sweepstakes to become Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent, Crawford is in competition with Bradley. Amir Khan is in the mix, too, along with longshot choice Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

“Tim Bradley’s a good guy, like a big brother,” Crawford said. “It wasn’t just that he was an undefeated world champion, it was the type of person he was. Because you can be a world champion and be a bad person … just sayin’.


“But he taught me somes ins and outs that I should take heed of, and I feel those things led me to be where I am today.”

The 28-year-old Crawford (26-0, 18 knockouts) is in an enviable perch today, readying to make the first defense of his World Boxing Organization super-lightweight belt against Dierry Jean (29-1, 20 KOs) on HBO at 6:30 p.m. (Pacific time) Saturday at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Victory by Crawford would give him a leg up on Bradley, who has a Nov. 7 date against former lightweight champion Brandon Rios in Las Vegas.

After that bout, Pacquiao will make his choice.

“Who wouldn’t think about it? That’s the fight we want,” Crawford said. “Right now, we just want to focus on Jean, but [Pacquiao] … that’s a big opportunity for me, and if I was ever given that opportunity, I’d do my best to seize it.”

Bob Arum, who promotes Crawford and Pacquiao, said Pacquiao will watch the Crawford-Jean bout and weigh it before deciding who he’ll fight in what Arum says will be Pacquiao’s final bout.

“It’s all up to Manny,” Arum said. “I want to see a good performance from Crawford. He’s fighting a good fighter, and Manny is the kind of proud guy who looks for the toughest opponent.


“So if Crawford gives a great performance, it enhances him as a Manny opponent.”

Pacquiao already knows Crawford as the Boxing Writers Assn. of America 2014 fighter of the year after victories against Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Ray Beltran, and he admires Crawford’s philanthropic side. The fighter has engaged in charity, including a trip to Africa.

First, he needs that impressive triumph that Arum alluded to.

“It’s going to be a real tough fight,” Crawford said of Jean. “He poses a lot of threats with his speed and punching power, his counter-punching and boxing abilities, but we’re ready for whatever.

“Because I put all of my same effort into the gym, did everything I was supposed to do in camp. That’s where my confidence comes. I feel like I still have something to prove. I want to make it to the top.

“And I’m not there yet.”

Crawford has boxed since age 7, and he navigated a perilous life on the streets, surviving a gunshot to the head in 2008 after winning money in a dice game.

Asked if that was the last time he strayed into trouble out of the boxing gym, he said, “It wasn’t the last time, but what I took from it is that God gave me a second chance to do something positive with my life.

“All I really ever wanted to do was fight. So he gave me a second chance to fulfill my dreams. It took that and my family members and loved ones talking to me about getting to see the bigger picture other than revenge.”


That picture will be on HBO Saturday, and perhaps on pay-per-view if Pacquiao comes away impressed.

“I feel like I can do anything in there. I can adjust to any fighter. I can punch going forward, backward. I can box, counterpunch, stay in that pocket and bang,” Crawford said. “I can do whatever I put my mind to.”