Boxing: Crawford’s Difficult Road to Big Fights

Terence Crawford has the two main component to being a fan favorite fighter. He’s pound for pound one of the best fighters and he’s exciting to watch.

Those components were on full display in Saturday’s night win over Jose Benavidez Jr. His 12th round knockout of the loudmouth Benavidez Jr. led to the natural question… who’s next?

To answer this question, you have to go back to one of the most important decisions Crawford could make. What promotion company to sign with? And that’s where Crawford’s one loss may be. He re-signed with Top Rank. The Bob Arum-led company doesn’t have the necessary attractive names in the weight class. This was on full display after Crawford’s victory when Arum said the following:

In other words, for business reasons, the only fight he’s willing to negotiate outside of the Top Rank stable would be one with Errol Spence. The complication is brought on by network deals struck by the different promotion companies. Top Rank is with ESPN. Errol Spence, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter are all with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC). PBC has a deal with Showtime and Fox.

There lies the problem. Why would Arum risk his most valuable asset against PBC’s second, third, fourth… wherever you want to rank Garcia and Porter, most valuable asset? Even if Crawford were to beat Garcia or Porter, Arum would have to come back to the table with PBC to negotiate a fight with Spence. So, obviously, he wants to do it once and it must be against PBC’s most valuable asset. At the post-fight presser, Arum started the “negotiation” in boxing’s passive, aggressive way. “Hear me now: I’m ready to make that fight next,” Arum said. “We’re prepared to sit down and get that fight done, but I can’t force the other people into doing it.”

This problem isn’t going away even with HBO getting out of the boxing game. Between Top Rank, PBC and Golden Boy Promotions, combination deals with networks, both free and premium services, has become boxing’s lifeline. It’s why boxers who have Crawford-like potential need to be careful who they sign their second and, sometimes third contract with. In the end, it could cost them two or more big money fights. Just as Crawford. As great as he is, boxing fans know how difficult it would be to make a fight with PBC’s stable and, there’s no doubt, that Al Haymon has more depth at that weight class.

In the end, that’s a loss for Crawford.

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