In a matter of days, Terence Crawford went from being just another fighter on the early portion of an undercard to preparing for a bout on HBO that means more exposure and a lot more money.
Crawford (19-0, 15 knockouts) will meet Breidis Prescott (26-4, 20 KOs) on Saturday at Mandalay Bay in a 10-round junior welterweight fight. The bout is part of the undercard for the rematch between Brandon Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) and Mike Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs), who will be fighting for the vacant WBO interim junior welterweight title.
Originally, Crawford was to fight Robert Osiobe (14-5-4, six KOs) on the nontelevised portion of the undercard. But Prescott’s opponent, Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, eight KOs), injured his right elbow in training last week and dropped out of the fight.
Suddenly faced with finding a replacement in less than a week for the nationally televised fight, promoter Top Rank turned to Crawford. And though the fight will make him richer and more recognizable, it also comes with more risk. Prescott is far superior to Osiobe.
“What an opportunity for Terence Crawford to appear on HBO in a high-profile fight,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said Friday. “He’s going to be really motivated.”
Crawford, a 25-year-old from Omaha, Neb., will make $125,000 for the fight, according to his manager, Cameron Dunkin. He would have made $15,000 against Osiobe, Dunkin said.
“The money’s good, but HBO is more important,” Dunkin said. “If Terence wins, he gets unprecedented exposure and will get bigger fights and more money than he’s going to make Saturday.
“But all that said, this is an extremely dangerous fight for Terence. It’s a big step up. But Terence wants this fight.”
Crawford last fought Nov. 11, scoring a sixth-round technical knockout over Sidney Siqueira (20-7-1, 11 KOs) at Wynn Las Vegas. Though Crawford has been competing as a lightweight, he has fought at 140 pounds before.
“The weight won’t be a problem; he may even come in light at 138,” Dunkin said.
■ RIOS-ALVARADO OFFICIALS — The Nevada Athletic Commission chose Tony Weeks of Las Vegas as the referee for Rios-Alvarado. Duane Ford and Dave Moretti of Las Vegas and William Lerch of Illinois were selected as judges.
Top Rank, which is promoting the card, objected to the use of Ford and C.J. Ross, who both worked last year’s controversial Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight that ended with Bradley winning a split decision. But the commission approved executive director Keith Kizer’s recommendation to use Ford.
■ RATHER RETURNS — Las Vegas heavyweight Brett Rather has been added to the Rios-Alvarado undercard and will face Juan Guajardo (2-0-1, one KO) of McAllen, Texas, in a four-round bout.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time in the gym working on my footwork and my combinations,” said the 22-year-old Rather (2-0), who last fought Nov. 10, winning a four-round majority decision over Avery Gibson (1-2-2) at Wynn Las Vegas. “I feel like I’ve made a noticeable jump. I’m eating better. I’m training better. Everything is better.”
■ GUERRERO IN TOWN — Robert Guerrero moved his training camp for his May 4 fight at the MGM Grand Garden against Floyd Mayweather Jr. last week from Gilroy, Calif., to Las Vegas.
Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs), who turns 30 on Wednesday, is working out at the Pound 4 Pound Gym. He trained in Las Vegas for his Nov. 24 fight against Andre Berto (28-2, 22 KOs) in Ontario, Calif., a bout Guerrero won by unanimous decision.
The 36-year-old Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) is training at his Las Vegas gym.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.