Terence Crawford-Amir Khan comes first, but urgency to make Errol Spence Jr. fight still looms

first_imgThis was the scene Wednesday before Crawford eventually explained his laser focus during the final presser.MORE: Watch Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan on FITE.TV”I don’t believe no fight that I fight is just another fight for me,” Crawford said on the dais, with Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum seated just to the left between him and Khan. “I believe that all fights that I fight from here on out are for my legacy. That’s why I want the biggest fights out there.”Although he’s a heavy favorite going into their fight Saturday — the inaugural pay-per-view under the Top Rank on ESPN banner — Crawford isn’t viewing Khan as the man who got slept by Canelo Alvarez via a vicious right hook in 2017 or the man whom Danny Garcia stopped in just four rounds in 2012. He sees “King Khan,” the man who has never lost a bout at 147 pounds.”Amir Khan is a great fighter. I can’t take nothing away from (him),” Crawford said. “He’s done a lot in the sport of boxing. He has a big name. He’s undefeated at the welterweight division, so why not take another step up?”Crawford says every fight from here on out is for his legacy.#CrawfordKhan pic.twitter.com/zH4guhnl45— Sporting News Fights (@sn_fights) April 17, 2019Yes, there’s no doubt Khan represents the biggest-name opponent for Crawford to date, but when it comes to a true legacy fight, one that will cement Crawford’s standing and leave no doubt he’s the best pound-for-pound boxer in the Sweet Science and perhaps this generation, there’s one name and one fight: Errol Spence Jr.Without saying the IBF welterweight champion’s name on Wednesday, Crawford acknowledged Spence, saying the highly anticipated unification fight will happen when “The Truth” and his representation at Premier Boxing Champions want it to happen.”Man, listen, I could put the pressure, I could put a gun to their head, but that still ain’t going to make them make the fight happen,” Crawford said. “They’re going to make the fight happen when they want it to happen.”It’s not my job to worry about that,” he continued. “I just have to keep fighting the fights that they put in front of me and feed my family.”Crawford says he can’t force Errol Spence Jr. to fight him — without mentioning Spence’s name — adding that the mega fight will happen when Spence wants it to happen.#CrawfordKhan pic.twitter.com/9R4SwWehxf— Sporting News Fights (@sn_fights) April 17, 2019MORE: Crawford vs. Khan: Odds, expert pick and how to betThis comes in response to Spence holding court on Instagram Live last week and telling his fans, “You don’t want to see me fight Terence Crawford. … I’d beat that boy’s ass,” before suggesting he might pull up to the Garden to catch Crawford-Khan and possibly confront “Bud” thereafter.The rivalry has been on this collision course to boxing supremacy for some time; Crawford and Spence had a rather conspicuous run-in in November. Two months prior to that, Spence told reporters Crawford “hasn’t beaten nobody,” to which Crawford responded by saying Spence was drunk. For what it’s worth, Arum told Sporting News he’ll do everything in his power to make Crawford-Spence happen after the Khan bout.”I told everybody that Tuesday or Wednesday after this fight — if Crawford wins the fight, forget how he looks, if he wins — I will try to talk to Al Haymon about making a Crawford-Spence fight forthwith,” Arum said. “We’re ready to go, man.”Screw whether (Crawford) needs it or doesn’t need it (for his legacy). That’s the fight that people want to see and that’s the fight that I have an obligation to try to make.”MORE: Spence addresses potential fight with Crawford NEW YORK — There’s pre-news conference media availability at the Delta Lounge in Madison Square Garden, but Terence Crawford isn’t doing any press at this exact moment.The undefeated WBO welterweight champion is perched on a countertop, hands interlocked in his lap and eyes focused on Amir Khan, about 100 feet away on the opposite side of the room. Arum compared Crawford to Marvin Hagler for their “taciturn” personality outside the ring, and Sugar Ray Leonard for their punishing fighting styles inside it. Well, Leonard and Hagler had each other — not to mention Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran — during a real golden era of boxing.Similarly, Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) and Spence (25-0, 21 KOs) have each other to cement an undeniable boxing legacy. Another undefeated welterweight champion, WBA titleholder Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs), reigns in the same division, but everything still points to Crawford-Spence being the fight at 147.So, while Crawford prepares to clash with Khan on Saturday at the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” “The Truth” is that the Spence fight is the one. And everyone knows it.last_img read more

MLB free-agent predictions: Rankings, rumors for the top 10 players on the market

first_img10. Yasmani Grandal, 31, CThoughts: Grandal’s struggles in the 2018 postseason (he hit .138 for the Dodgers) had to be the primary reason he wasn’t able to land the type of deal he wanted on the free-agent market, settling for a one-year deal with a mutual option with the Brewers in mid-January. But Grandal was great for Milwaukee, hitting 28 homers to go with a .380 on-base percentage and 119 OPS. He should fare much better on the free-agent market this time, especially because he can’t be given a qualifying offer and won’t have draft-pick compensation attached.Possible destinations: Twins, Reds, White Sox, Brewers, BravesSN’s prediction: RedsUPDATE: Grandal signed a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox. We’ve already ranked the top 87 free agents in this year’s class, but today we’re going to take a deeper dive in to the top 10 players on that list. Well, the top 11. There’s already been an adjustment, hopefully a sign of things to come; Aroldis Chapman was No. 10, but he agreed to a new deal with the Yankees instead of opting out of the two years and $30 million left on his contract. Yasmani Grandal, who was No. 11, slides up one spot.  For each of the 10, we’ll take a quick look at why they’ll be attractive as a free agent, a couple of places they might wind up and then a prediction.  MORE: Every MLB team’s most pressing free-agent need1. Anthony Rendon, 29, 3BThoughts: Rendon’s days as an overlooked star disappeared with his incredible postseason performance — .328 average, 1.003 OPS, three homers and 15 RBIs in 17 games — as the Nationals won the World Series. And that, on top of his incredible second-half performance — .336 average, 1.023 OPS, 14 homers, 64 RBIs in 71 games — has vaulted him to the top of SN’s list of top free agents. The difference between Rendon and the guys in the 2-3-4 spots on this list? They’re all elite stars, but as a position player, Rendon has the opportunity to make an impact on 162 regular-season games, not just 33, and 20-something games in October, not just five or six. Possible destinations: Mets, Yankees, Nationals, Angels, White Sox, Rangers, PhilliesSN’s prediction: Nationals2. Gerrit Cole, 29, SPThoughts: The big right-hander is everything a contender could want from a top-of-the-rotation ace. He’s only 29 years old and should win the AL Cy Young award when it’s announced Nov. 13, which would be more than enough for a massive contract. His 326 strikeouts this season were the most in MLB since Randy Johnson’s 334 in 2002 and the most in the AL since Nolan Ryan’s 341 way back in 1977. But then you add in October, when he allowed zero or one run in four of his five starts and went at least seven innings every time? Back up the Brinks truck, folks. Possible destinations: Yankees, Angels, Astros, Dodgers, Padres, PhilliesSN’s prediction: Angels 3. Stephen Strasburg, 31, SPThoughts: After his incredible postseason performance — 1.98 ERA, 47 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings — helped lift the Nationals to the World Series championship, Strasburg opted out of the four years and $100 million remaining on his current deal. Even if he wants to stay with the Nationals, which isn’t even remotely a stretch, opting out was kind of a no-brainer. He was pretty impressive in the regular season, too, leading the NL with 209 innings, while striking out 251 and posting a 3.32 ERA/3.25 FIP. Possible destinations: Yankees, Nationals, Angels, Padres, Phillies, White SoxSN’s prediction: Nationals4. Madison Bumgarner, 30, SPThoughts: Admittedly, it feels wrong to think of MadBum wearing any other uniform, but the way the Nationals and Astros rode strong starting pitching into the World Series probably helps his case a bit. His numbers weren’t quite as good in 2019, the first time since 2016 he’s stayed healthy and pitched a full season. But he’s still striking out nearly a batter an inning (8.8 K/9) and still striking out a lot more guys than he walks (4.72 K/BB ratio). And maybe this doesn’t really matter, but with as much as Bumgarner clearly loves to bat, it stands to reason he might prefer an NL team. Possible destinations: Giants, Braves, Phillies, Cardinals, Astros, Yankees, MetsSN’s prediction: Yankees5. J.D. Martinez, 32, DHThoughts: His numbers dropped a little bit in 2019, but that’s mostly because he was incredible in 2017-18. Martinez still popped 36 homers, to go with a .304 average, .939 OPS and 3.3 bWAR as Boston’s DH. He has an opt-out (with a $2.5 million buyout) and three years, $62.5 million remaining on his current deal. At this point, of course, with his mediocre glove and back issues — Boston limited his time in the field as much as possible in 2019 — he’s mostly an AL-only option at DH, unless an NL team is just that desperate for a lineup upgrade in outfield. Possible destinations: Mariners, White SoxSN’s prediction: White SoxUPDATE: Martinez decided against opting out of his deal, so he’s back with Boston for 2020. 6. Josh Donaldson, 34, 3BThoughts: After injury issues in 2017 and 2018, Donaldson proved in 2019 — on a one-year deal with the Braves — that he’s still an elite middle-of-the-order bat (37 homers, .900 OPS) who plays above-average defense at third base, and more than one contender could use that combination (he had a 6.1 bWAR). At 34 years old, he’s not going to land a long deal, but a two or three year deal with a high AAV seems mutually beneficial for the right team. He’s a cheaper, but still very much a win-now, option for teams that don’t land (or bid on) Rendon.Possible destinations: Phillies, Mets, Cardinals, Braves, Nationals, BrewersSN’s prediction: Braves 7. Hyun-Jin Ryu, 33, SPThoughts: Ryu made 44 starts over the past two seasons, and he’s produced a 2.21 ERA, which is pretty darn impressive. Plus, because he accepted the Dodgers’ qualifying offer last year, he will be free of draft-pick compensation, which will be a big plus for the lefty, in this era when teams are hesitant to give up those picks. Possible destinations: Dodgers, Twins, Angels, RangersSN’s prediction: Dodgers8. Zack Wheeler, 30, SPThoughts: Wheeler’s ERA this year (3.96) was above his career average, but his FIP (3.48) was below his career average. He often looks like a Cy Young candidate out there, and you can bet that’s how his agents will frame his resume. He won’t get as much as the elite starters on the market, but he might produce relatively similar numbers. Possible destinations: Mets, Yankees, Angels, Phillies, Dodgers, CubsSN’s prediction: Phillies9. Nicholas Castellanos, 28, OFThoughts: Castellanos seemed clearly revived when he was traded from the Tigers to the Cubs and joined a pennant race. In 51 games with Chicago, the corner outfielder hit 16 homers, batted .321 and posted a 151 OPS+. Also, he doesn’t turn 28 until March 4, making him a couple of years younger than most free agents this offseason. Possible destinations: Cubs, White Sox, Rays, Indians, Red SoxSN’s prediction: Red Soxlast_img read more