Crawford returns to ring in title defense against Brook

FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2014, file photo, Kell Brook, right, hits Shawn Porter during their IBF welterweight title boxing bout in Carson, Calif. Brook, who fought at 160 pounds when he was stopped in the fifth round by Golovkin in 2016, said he started losing weight early for this fight so he wouldnt have to starve himself late. But there are questions not only about him coming down in weight but also the wear and tear hes had in his years in the ring. At the age of 34, it could be his final hurrah if he cant come up with the performance of a lifetime against Crawford. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2014, file photo, Kell Brook, right, hits Shawn Porter during their IBF welterweight title boxing bout in Carson, Calif. Brook, who fought at 160 pounds when he was stopped in the fifth round by Golovkin in 2016, said he started losing weight early for this fight so he wouldnt have to starve himself late. But there are questions not only about him coming down in weight but also the wear and tear hes had in his years in the ring. At the age of 34, it could be his final hurrah if he cant come up with the performance of a lifetime against Crawford. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File) (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

LAS VEGAS – Terence Crawford has long held a spot in the mythical pound-for-pound ratings that boxing people like to argue about when all the fights are done for the day.

What Crawford is still waiting on is the one signature fight that will put an end to all those arguments.

Crawford won’t get that Saturday night when he defends his piece of the welterweight title against England’s Kell Brook. But he figures to get a stiff challenge — along with a measuring stick of the state of his many talents — when he takes on the former champion in a fight that is both risky and needed for Crawford.

``I’ve always felt that I’m No. 1 pound-for-pound in the world,’’ Crawford said this week. ``This is what I do.’’

Crawford returns to the ring for the first time in nearly a year in a scheduled 12-round fight from the Top Rank bubble at the MGM Grand hotel. The fight will be televised on ESPN, with the card starting at 10 p.m.

For Crawford it’s both a chance to get back in the ring again and to make a statement. At the age of 33 he still is in his prime but he has yet to fight the big bout that could end up defining his career.

Promoter Bob Arum says that could come next spring with a possible fight against Manny Pacquiao in Qatar, something Arum said he has been pursuing even though he doesn’t promote Pacquiao.

“I’m optimistic that if Terence wins, we can put the fight on and if Terrence doesn’t win and Kell Brook wins, maybe I’ll make Kell Brook with Manny,’’ Arum said.