Boxing: When WBO champion Terence Crawford trades punches with Amir Khan in a title fight at the Madison Square Garden in New York on April 20, many will see a real battle from two of the hottest welterweights today.

Since opening their respective training camps, the two have not taken each other lightly, embarking on rigid preparations for months to engage in one of the highly-anticipated boxing matches this year. But as the fight approaches, the odds remain in Crawford’s side.

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Since the day the fight was signed, the majority of boxing pundits tipped him to win with many even predicting the American to knock out the invader from England.

Both fighters confident to win

In the run-up to what many expect an explosive fight, a Top Rank pay-per-view presentation aired on ESPN. Both Khan and Crawford – who will stake his WBO welterweight world title – see a win against each other. Crawford vowed to frustrate Khan’s hope of becoming a world champion again, saying he is looking forward to destroying the British boxer.

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For Khan, the fight will be a career-defining moment. As he prepares for the biggest fight of his career this weekend, he told BBC that a victory against Crawford will cement his legacy and he could retire a legend.

From Omaha to the world

The unbeaten Crawford, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, is probably the world’s number one welterweight fighter today. Since last year, the champion has been on top of the pound-for-pound list of many sweet science experts.

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However, for some boxing writers, knockout artist Crawford has yet to prove to the world he is the best welterweight. This is due to the fact that Crawford has yet to face any of the division’s elite fighters.

Crawford came into the picture after dethroning Scotland’s Ricky Burns, then the WBO lightweight champion, via a unanimous decision in 2014. Succeeding fights included a TKO win over Yuriorkis Gamboa in the ninth round and an easy victory over Ray Beltran.

His last opponent was a 12th-round knockout victory against a trash-talking unknown in his hometown Omaha in October last year. Phoenix’s Jose Benavidez Jr. was simply no match against Crawford who caught him with a violent uppercut that sent him crashing to the canvas in the final round.

Other notable fights

Other notable fights were those against Ukrainian star Viktor Postol in July 2016 and Australian Jeff Horn in June last year, all pay-per-view showdowns held at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

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Crawford earned a hard-fought unanimous decision against Postol while scoring a technical knockout victory against a careless Horn, an all-offensive fighter, in an entertaining match to catch the welterweight world crown.

Horn was best known for dethroning division champion Manny Pacquiao via a unanimous decision in their highly controversial showdown in Brisbane in July 2017. The Crawford match was his first outside Australia and the first loss in his career.

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Khan more experienced

Against Crawford, Khan will step into the ring being the more experienced, having fought the best lightweight and welterweight fighters. A do-or-die fighter, the British boxer has been known for not always backing out any challenge. Based on his last two fights – a unanimous decision against Samuel Vargas and a technical knockout win against Phi Lo Greco last year – the Bolton native is still a force to be reckoned with in a star-studded welterweight division, whose lineup also includes undefeated Errol Spence and eight-time world champion Pacquiao.

Unlike Crawford, Khan has engaged in some memorable fights against formidable foes. His victories include those against future Hall of Famers Marco Antonio Barrera, Paul Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, Luis Collazo, and Devon Alexander.

Khan even took the risk of climbing a notch higher to face middleweight powerhouse Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2016. Before absorbing a power shot that knocked him out, Khan controlled the fight in the early stages before Alvarez took the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

Khan going after Pacquiao

Khan knows he has only a few more fights left, the reason he wants to face big names in his division. Since 2017, he was inching to face Pacquiao, his former sparring partner at Freddie Roach’s world-famous Wild Card Gym, in a blockbuster showdown he wanted staged in Dubai or England.

The fight did not materialize as Pacquiao opted to face Horn in a losing Brisbane, Australia invasion and Argentine Lucas Matthysse in a victorious war in Malaysia, leaving Khan to fight Vargas and Greco.

Their records

Crawford, a southpaw holding a record of 34 - 0 with 25 knockouts, will enter the ring a heavy favorite on account of his unbeaten record despite the British star (33 wins, four losses with 20 wins by knockouts) being undeniably his toughest opponent. Both fighters are in the prime of their respective career, Khan is 32 years old while Crawford is 31. They are on a collision course will other big guns in the welterweight division that include Pacquiao, Errol Spence, Danny Garcia, and Keith Thurman.

But Khan, with 37 professional fights, has more experience although Crawford has more knockout victories. Besides, since turning professional in 2005, Khan had faced quality opponents who are future Hall of Famers.

Pressure on Crawford

Khan has nothing to lose against Crawford. He has been knocked out before by Alvarez, Garcia and Briedis Prescott. He certainly learned valuable lessons from those losses and is out to correct many mistakes he committed in those fights. While a loss will significantly affect his status as a force in his division, Khan can still have many big fights in the future. He is a big attraction in England, where a showdown with Pacquiao later in his career is a sure blockbuster.

The pressure will definitely be on Crawford. The defending champion has so much to lose in this fight, being an unbeaten and pound-for-pound king. Khan is no pushover and can surely challenge him in every department. Crawford cannot deny the fact that Kahn will be his fiercest opponent. So he needs to be prepared. He cannot afford to be overconfident because a single mistake can give the British fighter the advantage and momentum.

Khan needs constant attack

For Khan to win, he needs to put pressure on Crawford through constant attack. But he needs to be careful since the American is an effective counter-puncher. An offensive fighter, Khan has to be aggressive from the opening bell and needs to control the early rounds.

It remains to be seen whether Crawford, a known tactician, can summon his knockout ability against Khan, who is fast and explosive. But the champion knows that if he could not put Khan to sleep with his combinations, he has to rack up points to score a victory.

The prediction: Crawford wins via unanimous decision.

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