Sunday, June 04, 2023  |


Crawford leaves behind the heartbreak of his failed fight with Pacquiao to focus on Porter

Terence Crawford poses during the press conference at MGM Grand Casino on October 09, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Fighters Network

Terence Crawford has certainly experienced the ups and downs of the boxing business at the highest level.

At one point earlier this year, Crawford, long one of boxing’s elite pound-for-pound best, thought he had secured a deal to face legend Manny Pacquiao only to see it go by the wayside at the 11th hour and then have to deal with the disappointment of the fight falling through.

But a few months later Crawford was sky high, having finally secured the major fight he has wanted since moving up to the welterweight division in June 2018 when a deal was finalized for him to defend his WBO 147-pound title against former two-time titleholder Shawn Porter.

Crawford and longtime friend Porter will square off in one of the year’s most anticipated fights on Saturday (ESPN+ PPV, 9 p.m. ET, $69.99) at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), 34, of Omaha, Nebraska, who is the former undisputed junior welterweight champion and a former lightweight titleholder, will be making his fifth welterweight title defense but his first against an A-level opponent.

He had wanted to fight Pacquiao for years but is pleased that as long as that fight did not happen he was able to land the bout with Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs), 34, of Las Vegas, which was brought about when the WBO, in a surprise to many, ordered Crawford make a mandatory defense and appointed Porter as the No. 1 challenger.

“I was real disappointed not getting that fight,” Crawford said about his feeling when the Pacquiao fight fell through. “We was two days from securing that fight. A lot of things (happened). Manny Pacquiao’s side lied to us. It’s a whole bunch of things and reasons why that fight didn’t happen. Like I always say, everything happens for a reason and the fight didn’t happen and we’re here now. Shawn Porter is the fighter that I’m fighting and that’s the fight we’re focused on more than any other fight.”

Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division champion, and Crawford had agreed to fight on June 5 in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The bout was ticketed to headline an ESPN pay-per-view card. However, the investment group that had agreed to put up millions of dollars for a site fee in a deal brokered by former Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz missed key deadlines to deposit the money, so the deal fell apart.

“Look, what happened to us in Abu Dhabi was we had signed contracts and everything and they were supposed to put up the money,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Crawford’s promoter, said at the time the deal cratered. “Well, I’ve been waiting two weeks for the money. Nobody put up the money after promising they would. Both (Pacquiao and Crawford) had agreed and we had a signed agreement from this group in Abu Dhabi subject to the money getting put up by the Abu Dhabi government.”

With no funding, there was no fight. Pacquiao eventually signed to fight unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. on Aug. 21 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas but wound up losing a decision to late replacement and WBA titlist Yordenis Ugas when Spence had to withdraw due to an eye injury less than two weeks before the fight. Pacquiao announced his retirement soon after the bout.

But it was unclear what Crawford was going to do next other than Arum promising him that he would fight this fall, even though there was no top opponent for Arum to offer him.

But when the WBO ordered Crawford to face Porter, this set in motion the efforts of Top Rank and Porter representative Premier Boxing Champions, via TGB Promotions, to make a deal.

Top Rank and Al Haymon’s PBC have long been bitter rivals but there has been some thawing in that relationship, which has allowed them to work together from time to time. They worked together in February 2020 and this past Oct. 9 on the second and third heavyweight championship fights between Tyson Fury, who is with Top Rank, and Deontay Wilder, who is with PBC.

Arum said their ability to put on those major fights together helped grease the wheels for them to make a deal for Crawford-Porter, which Top Rank is promoting, without needing to go to a purse bid.

“It goes back to the Fury-Wilder promotions, the second fight and the third fight, where both companies saw that we could really work well together,” Arum said. “So they green lighted Porter and it was easy to put the fight together.”

Crawford may have wanted Pacquiao, but that failed deal is yesterday’s news. Now, he is focused on Porter and not what might have been with Pacquiao.

“I know how talented Shawn Porter is,” Crawford said. “A lot of people don’t see what I see in Shawn Porter — the skills set, the mindset, the hunger, the speed, the movement, roughness. I see a lot in Shawn Porter like he sees in me because we’ve been knowing each other for so long. We know what each other likes, what each other don’t like. It’s gonna be tough, but at the same time we’re gonna be prepared for him.”