Friday, March 24, 2023  |


Sam Watson thanks Bob Arum before Al Haymon at press conference


When Sam Watson spoke at a news conference to formally announce Terence Crawford’s title defense against John Molina Jr. on Dec. 10, he didn’t first thank Al Haymon, as is his custom.

No, in what had to be a surreal moment to those who have followed boxing politics over the years, Watson thanked Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who had just introduced him. “Thank you so much Bob Arum,” Watson said, uttering six words that likely have haven’t been said by a key Haymon operative in recent times. Haymon advises Molina. “Thanks to Top Rank,” he went on. “Thanks to TGB Promotions, John’s promoters. Thank you to Al Haymon. Thank you for making this big fight.”

Working with Haymon was once unthinkable for Top Rank. But nearly a year after Arum filed a $100 million federal anti-trust lawsuit against Haymon, the two settled in May, opening avenues of communication between them, something that Molina noted when he spoke at Thursday’s presser. His fight with Crawford will take place on HBO from CenturyLink Center in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. “Everyone was on board,” Molina said to applause. “This is good for boxing. Fighters fight and we’re going to fight each other.”

Top Rank didn’t set off to make a fight between Crawford and Molina. As Top Rank VP Carl Moretti said at the start of the news conference, the company tried to make a unification match with the other belt-holders, Russia’s Eduard Troyanovsky (IBF) and the UK’s Ricky Burns (WBA) but found there was little interest on their part. So the next-best option, Moretti said, was Molina, who is coming off an upset-victory against Ruslan Provodnkov in June.

The one bit of hostility between the camps seemed to take place when Crawford co-manager and trainer Bryan McIntyre took a verbal shot at Watson during his time at the podium over some friction they appeared to have in the past. “Sam Watson,” McIntyre said. “I met him a little while back — he made a joke about me. He tried to front me. But Sam, when you come back — I’m going to make a joke out of you and I’m going to front you — me and my whole city will.” McIntyre didn’t immediately return a message to explain what happened between them.

It’s not clear how fruitful the relationship between Arum and Haymon will be. Arum has spoken of trying to match Manny Pacquiao with some of Haymon’s champions — Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman, who are slated to meet each other on March 4. Then there is the rematch between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., which would obviously be notable. Mayweather was in attendance for Pacquiao’s win against titleholder Jessie Vargas on Saturday, sparking speculation it will happen. But Arum said on Thursday that he and Haymon have yet to talk.

“We’ll take a week and we’ll explore it,” Arum told on Thursday before the press conference. “I don’t feel optimistic or pessimistic (about the rematch happening). I really don’t know. My guy wants the fight. But it takes two to make the fight.”


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Ring Magazine Dec 2016

You can subscribe to the print and digital editions of RING magazine by clicking the banner or here. You can also order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page. On the cover this month: Double Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields. The U.K. Issue featuring cover star Carl Frampton is available now.