WBO welterweight world champion Terence "Bud" Crawford makes the 3rd defence of his title against his mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 Ko's) at Madison Square Garden on Saturday 14th December with the fight being shown on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (Spanish language).
Top Rank promoted Crawford needs to be matched with the other big names in the welterweight division to gain the recognition he deserves, but because rival promoter Premier Boxing Champions who control Manny Pacquiao, Errol Spence Jr, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, and Shawn Porter, as well as others, and their broadcast partners Fox and FS1 are unwilling to do business (or share broadcast rights) with other promotional groups, Crawford's options are limited.
Top Rank president Bob Arum has been in the business longer than any active promoter but on this issue, he has no bargaining power other than the fans thirst to see "Bud" take on Spence Jr and the other PBC welterweights. But since when did fan demand supersede promotional power in this business?
Lithuanian Kavaliauskas is actually a very decent opponent for the 32-year-old Crawford who we last saw dismantling Amir Khan in 6 rounds at MSG in April.
The 31-year-old known as "Mean Machine" earned the WBO No1 spot with wins over quality opposition in David Avanesyan, Juan Carlos Abreu, and unbeaten Robert Arriaza. The lone draw came against Ray Robinson in Kavaliauskas's last outing in March in Robinson's hometown, Philadelphia.
The 33-year-old Robinson is enjoying an Indian summer to his career and is hard work for any 147lb champion or contender at present.
Kavaliauskas is a no-nonsense box/fighter who likes to pressure his opponent from the first bell. Against Crawford (35-0-0, 26 Ko's) this might be the wrong approach because the man from Omaha, Nebraska is such a slick counter puncher and Kavaliauskas style is one that he thrives upon.
Kavaliauskas does use good lateral movement while he attacks and that might make Crawford's task a little more awkward but I fully expect the champion to work out the Lithuanian and outbox him. Kavaliauskas has a good chin and a good boxing IQ so I think he can at least get to hear the final bell.
Prediction: Crawford to win a wide points decision.