Monday, December 11, 2023  |


Opinion: Top Rank’s grievances on Terence Crawford aren’t all Bud’s fault

Terence Crawford. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
Fighters Network

Terence Crawford is not to blame for his ongoing rift with promoter Top Rank.

Crawford is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet but he isn’t much of a talker. And that’s OK. Not everyone is born with a socialite personality and wants to have “superstar” status.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The three-division champion defended his WBO 147-pound strap for the fourth time last week with a fourth round stoppage over former titlist Kell Brook.

Arum has known since he signed Crawford back in 2011 that he is not a fan of the promotional aspects of boxing. That said, the 88-year-old already had a notion: “OK, this is going to take some work to build Crawford’s name.”

Besides Arum is a promoter. It is literally his job to help fighters whom otherwise lack the tools or the skills to self-promote.

In the past, Arum has promoted Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya, two all-time greats who were endowed with the unique combination of elite boxing talent and marketability.

Both fighters ended up leaving Top Rank to start their own companies, Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, which stand as two of the most respected in the boxing business.

Crawford is not the type of guy to sugarcoat and beat around the bush. And let’s be honest; much of what revolves around promotional politics is precisely what Crawford doesn’t want to be. Period.

Crawford signed an extension with Top Rank in 2018 and his contract will expire in October of 2021. However if Arum’s statements are any indication, it doesn’t appear there will be any re-signing congregation.

Bob Arum ringside for a Bubble event. He didn't give election night so enthusiastic a thumbs up. (Photo by Mikey Williams for Top Rank)

Bob Arum ringside for a Bubble event. He didn’t give election night so enthusiastic a thumbs up. (Photo by Mikey Williams for Top Rank)

“He’s got to promote like (unified lightweight champion Teofimo) Lopez does. He’s got to promote like (former featherweight titlist) Shakur (Stevenson) does, like Mayweather did, like (Manny) Pacquiao did. If he doesn’t, then who the f*** needs him? He may be the greatest fighter in the world but, hey, I ain’t going bankrupt promoting him,” Arum told The Athletic.

Arum does make a point. The 33-year-old could do a better job of promoting himself but if Arum wants “Bud” to self-promote, then why keep him on the budget? If Crawford is an astronomically terrible economic burden on the company, why not release the man tomorrow?

As Arum noted: “I could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I’ve lost on him in the last three fights. A beautiful home. Nobody questions Crawford’s innate, tremendous ability. By beating a naturally bigger guy (in Brook), decisively, that’s a big statement that he’s making. The question is, ‘Does it pay the bills?’ Look, you can have the greatest opera singer in the world. If the fans don’t support it, you’re out of business.”

Whose decision was it to put the Crawford-Viktor Postol junior welterweight title unification fight on pay-per-view? The decision was heavily criticized when announced and the castigation was further validated when only 55,000 buys were secured for the event.

According to our own Dan Rafael, Crawford-Postol was on PPV because HBO refused to buy it and took heavy criticism as a result. Top Rank had no choice; they didn’t want it broadcast on PPV. Rafael remembered that fight week well, with Arum and HBO at each other’s throats in the run up.

That shortcoming falls on Top Rank, not Crawford. Furthermore the company simply lacks a stable of competitive welterweights.

Of its roster, Top Rank only has 10 welterweights, 60 percent of whom have fewer than 10 fights on their resumes. To add insult to injury, Crawford already beat its second-best 147-pounder in Egidjius Kavaliauskas last December.

Meanwhile at Premier Boxing Champions, basically everyone whom would give Crawford a competitive fight is signed under this banner. We’re talking Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Yordenis Ugas, Sergey Lipinets and so on.

Pacquiao fought once under the PBC banner in January 2019 when he outpointed Adrien Broner, so that would be another opportunity for which Crawford has publicly called.

Arum confirmed that a deal was in place for Crawford to face Pacquiao in the Middle East (reportedly Qatar) before COVID-19 ruined their plans. They still waited way too long to try and land Crawford a major fight.

Terence Crawford (left) vs. Kell Brook. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Terence Crawford (left) vs. Kell Brook. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

It should not have taken a letter from Crawford’s attorney to Top Rank President Todd duBoef voicing his client’s frustrations on opponent selections to realize that something needs to change.

However for Arum to suggest that fans don’t support Crawford is simply delusional. The Omaha, Nebraska, native’s triumph over Brook averaged 1.75 million viewers, making the main event the most viewed boxing telecast across all TV networks since January of 2019.

So it’s evident that people care but, for years, some fans have been demanding to see Crawford against a significant opponent at welterweight.

That has yet to happen.

Superstar – and The Ring Magazine middleweight champion – Canelo Alvarez is three years younger than Crawford and has fought a significantly higher amount of top opposition, hence why the 30-year-old is ranked higher in the pound-for-pound rankings by most ringside experts.

On Tuesday evening, it was announced yet again that Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 knockouts), of Mexico, would be stepping up to take on a dangerous foe in The Ring/WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith, with a victory making him a true four-division world champion.

Alvarez won his first title just over a week before his 21st birthday in 2011. Just a few years later, he scored his first significant fight against Austin Trout, which then led to his superfight against Mayweather.

Despite losing to “Money,” Canelo is a better and more appreciated fighter because of it. And while their relationship became strained and eventually fell apart, Golden Boy did a tremendous job promoting Alvarez when it had him.

As for Top Rank, its efforts have fallen short.

When his contract finally expires, why should Crawford wait another year to get the fights he deserved 730 days ago?

And with each passing day, PBC awaits for one of it most significant signings in recent years.