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Terence Crawford Finds It ‘Weird’ That ESPN Shot Audience During Stevenson Fight

Terence Crawford has a closer relationship with WBC lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson than almost anyone else who has spoken out in recent weeks, so his opinions about the young fighter and his situation carry some weight.

I had the opportunity to speak with Crawford on Wednesday, July 10. The future Hall of Famer answered a few questions about Stevenson’s situation and discussed his opportunity to win a world title against WBA regular champion Israil Madrimov at 154 pounds.

What did Crawford think of the controversial camera footage that showed fans leaving his hometown Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, following Stevenson’s successful title defense against Artem Harutyunyan?

“They’re not real fans,” Crawford said. He and fellow great Andre Ward, who was in the arena along with Chicago rapper G-Herbo, escorted Stevenson to the ring.

“You can’t worry about these individuals. It was a bit strange that all these people got up and went out at the same time. It seemed planned to me. At the same time, who cares? They all paid their money to watch him fight. He looked sharp and won with flying colors, so be it.”

You can watch the full interview below.

Crawford wasn’t the only one to comment on the timing of ESPN’s camera shoot, even suggesting that Top Rank, which has a deal with the network, was trying to sabotage Stevenson as his deal with him was coming to an end.

Former world champion Andre Berto took to X to comment on the situation, calling Top Rank and ESPN degrading for their actions.

World champion Claressa Shields also told X that fans left after the main event, not during Stevenson’s fight.

I wasn’t in the arena. I watched it on ESPN and the video of the fans exiting was shown before the end of the fight. It was close to the ninth or tenth round. Even those who debate the legitimacy of the exit videos have to admit that there was booing that could be heard during the fight.

I don’t believe there’s a legitimate or logical argument against the notion that many fans found the fight boring. The truth is, people were booing and leaving early, but it does seem like Top Rank and ESPN are trying to point the finger at him as if to say, “Look, this is why we don’t value Stevenson enough to offer him a deal bigger than the five-fight, $15 million deal he turned down.”

But Crawford didn’t spend much time questioning that notion in our conversation, drawing attention to the age-old conundrum that talented fighters like Stevenson have had to navigate for decades.

Do I use my superior abilities to hit and not get hit, thus giving the fighter a better chance of winning, maintaining his health and longevity in the sport, or do I fight more recklessly and push myself for more fun?

So far Stevenson has chosen to be the former and I don’t blame him. If I had a son or daughter who was as talented a boxer as Stevenson and that style was an option, I would want them to fight that way too.

However, fans are not necessarily experts or purists in the sports or things they pay money to enjoy. Fans can be ignorant, uninformed, and completely misinformed because their money powers any entertainment industry. Skilled professionals like Stevenson have to address this issue and ideally not take it personally.

But Stevenson doesn’t always handle that part of his game gracefully. Stevenson has always been an athlete who wears his heart on his sleeve. His fans will love him for it, and his critics will use it as fuel.

Crawford will face Madrimov on August 3 at the BMO Center in Los Angeles, marking the first fight in the United States to be promoted and produced by Riyad Season’s Turki Alalshikh.

Stay tuned for news on the full event as the date approaches.