By David Carrero: Following Terence Crawford’s impressive recent victory over Errol Spence, there has been talk about the possibility of Crawford moving up in weight and challenging Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight championship.
Anticipation for a fight between Spence and Crawford, long perceived as the world’s two best welterweights, had been building for years. Crawford stunned many observers with a surprisingly one-sided performance against Spence in their July 29th unification bout. With the victory, Crawford became an undisputed champion in a second weight division.
One person who wasn’t surprised by Crawford’s performance was Jamie Belt, a Nebraska-based strength and conditioning coach who worked with Crawford from 2006 to 2021. “I knew that was gonna happen. Bud is just that dude.” Said Belt. “ I told Bruce Carrington, Bud is gonna knock him out before the 10th, and it ain’t gonna be pretty. I told him that a month before the fight. That guy is really on another level. He really is.”
While some believe Crawford, who is now almost universally recognized as the sport’s top fighter pound-for-pound, is capable of defeating Alvarez at 168 lbs., others believe Alvarez may simply be too powerful and that the move from 147lbs. to 168 lbs. would ultimately prove to be too much for Crawford.
Belt disagrees. “I’m not saying Bud would walk through Canelo like he walked through Spence, but it’s gonna be very similar. That’s the God’s honest truth.”
Jermell Charlo’s recent performance against Alvarez at 168 lbs. has led many to question whether it would be a good idea for Crawford, who has never fought above 147 lbs., to face Canelo at super middleweight. Belt, however, believes that for Crawford, a transition to 168 lbs. might be easier than people realize. “What a lot of people don’t know is that Terrance can walk around at 180 lbs, and he’s healthy. “
Prior to Charlo’s recent bout with Alvarez, there were those who questioned whether Charlo, who had recently become the sport’s undisputed junior middleweight champion, was too small to face Canelo at super middleweight. This prompted discussion about Charlo being naturally bigger and heavier than many fans realize. When it was pointed out that Charlo’s natural weight is significantly above the junior middleweight limit of 154 lbs., some took this as an indication that Charlo would have an easier time competing against Canelo at 168 lbs. than many were expecting. In their September 30th bout, however, despite going the distance, Charlo appeared largely ineffective against Alvarez.
Like Charlo, Crawford would be moving up in weight significantly to face Alvarez. “I think Terence is way different.” Said Belt. “ I’m not going to talk about Charlo. I don’t know what he does, how he trains, or who he trains with. I don’t know what he does when he’s not boxing. But I’ll tell you this much: when Bud’s not boxing, he’s still training. Bud lives in that weight room year-round.”
Terence Crawford and Canelo Alvarez began fighting professionally within three years of each other. Crawford at 135 lbs. and Alvarez at 140 lbs. Both men have, during their careers, campaigned at 147 lbs. Unlike Crawford, however, Alvarez has fought beyond the 147 lb. weight limit to compete at 154, 160, 168, and 175 lbs.
Despite being perceived as naturally smaller than others at 168 lbs., Canelo is regarded as a fearsome power puncher. Between December 2020 and November 2021, Alvarez defeated all title holders in the division to become the sport’s first undisputed super middleweight champion. A year prior to beginning his championship run at super middleweight, Canelo had captured the WBO light heavyweight title with a knockout win over Sergey Kovalev.
Despite the many challenges associated with moving up three weight classes to face Alvarez, Belt doesn’t view the potential super-fight as a size mismatch. “I don’t think Bud gets enough credit for how gifted he really is. Nobody really knows how strong he is. Nobody knows how conditioned he is. Nobody really knows. People think he’s just a guy who does regular things. He is not regular.”
Having worked with Crawford over a fifteen-year period, Belt may have unique insight into Crawford’s strengths as an athlete. “In years past, I had Bud working out in the off-season with my NFL players. One’s an all-pro defensive lineman. One’s an all-pro wide receiver. Another one was a defensive back in the NFL. Strength-wise, Bud was blowing those receivers and those DBs out of the water, and he was hanging with the defensive lineman that weighs 315 lbs.”
A welterweight champion defeating a super middleweight champion would certainly be an uncommon feat. It may be the case, though, that Terence Crawford is an uncommonly capable fighter.
If the proposed bout between Terence Crawford and Canelo Alvarez ever takes place, Belt has no doubt as to what the outcome would be. “I’m going to say Bud beats Canelo Alvarez.”