Terence Crawford is not taking Egidijus Kavaliauskas lightly as he returns to action after a lengthy break since beating Amir Khan in April.

Well rested and with the chance to leave a lasting impression on a busy boxing year, Terence Crawford is focused on only one thing: winning.

Following the destruction of Amir Khan back in April, the southpaw known simply as ‘Bud’ makes the third defence of his WBO welterweight title on Saturday. The lengthy break was not part of his plan, but Crawford understands how the business works.

In the opposite corner is Egidijus Kavaliauskas. The California-based Lithuanian’s name is a nightmare for journalists – a copy-and-paste job for anyone covering the bout – but his track record suggests he may not be a scary prospect for the classy Crawford, who has won his last six inside the distance.

Still, speaking ahead of the clash at Madison Square Garden in New York, the champion made clear he is not taking his opponent lightly.

“I expect a tough fight, he [Kavaliauskas] is a tough opponent, he’s very strong. He can fight, punch hard and I’m just looking for a good fight this week,” the switch-hitting southpaw told Omnisport.

“I enjoyed the time off with my family and at the same time, I wish I could have got a second fight earlier and had a third fight later this year. But I’m here now and I’m going to make the best of it.”

Making the best of it is something Crawford has to do in a compelling, crowded division.

Errol Spence Jr. holds the IBF and WBC belts, while the legendary Manny Pacquaio is still going strong as the WBA’s reigning champion. Then there is Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, plus also Danny Garcia and his namesake, Mikey.

But, as Britain can testify while coming to terms with an unexpected election result this week, politics have a habit of making life difficult.

While the majority of his rivals are signed up to Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), Crawford is tied in with Bob Arum and Top Rank. A coalition will be required to broker a deal between promoters linked to alternative television networks, but neither will want to cede too much ground during negotiations.

Poll boxing fans and plenty would vote for Crawford as not only the best in his division but also the leading candidate to top the pound-for-pound rankings. He boasts a 35-0 record, has held world titles at three different weights and fights in a manner that makes him a pleasure to watch, unless you’re the one sharing a ring with him.

Asked about his plans for 2020, the 32-year-old was unwilling to discuss potential clashes with Pacquiao, Porter or even Kell Brook, a former IBF champion who was mentioned earlier this year as a potential opponent.

“My main fight is this week, I’m not thinking about any other opponents at this point in time,” Crawford replied when asked about a clash with Porter, something Arum has suggested to the media could be next.

“I don’t care what Bob Arum or anybody else says about any other opponents, that’s not something I worry about.

“I’m focused on the task at hand and that’s Mean Machine this weekend, then after we can talk and see what’s the next move.”

Should he see off Kavaliauskas in the Big Apple, Crawford may be more forthcoming over his future plans. Another move up in weight does not appear to be in the pipeline, though.

“I’m comfortable at this weight, I’m happy at this weight and this is the weight that I’ve been campaigning to become undisputed,” he said.

“I consider myself to be the best in this weight and the best in the world.”

An overall PBC majority at welterweight leads to concerns Crawford may not get to prove himself against the other elite names at 147 pounds.

Still, the only thing he can do is keep on winning, starting with a mandatory title defence that offers him a platform to impress once again.


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