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Arum: Pacquiao’s last opponent down to Crawford, Khan or Bradley

pac744By Dan Ambrose:
Manny Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum says that the opponent for Pacquiao’s next, and possibly final fight of his career next April, is down to WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford, Amir Khan or Tim Bradley depending on if he wins his November 7th fight against Brandon Rios.

The strange part is that while Arum is saying that it’s Pacquiao’s choice in who he’ll be fighting next, he’s saying that Crawford is at the top of the list. Crawford did his part to stay alive in the Pacquiao lottery last Saturday night in stopping lightweight Dierry Jean (29-2, 20 KOs) by a 10th round knockout at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. The fight was televised by HBO.

“Manny and Terence would be a hell of a fight,” Arum said to “But Manny has to make that decision who he fights for his last fight. Manny has to look at the tape first, and we have to see what the result of Nov. 7 is, and then we’ll take a look after that.”

It’s hard to understand how it’s Pacquiao’s choice if Arum is already saying that Crawford is at No.1 in the list. That sounds like Arum is already tipping it off who he wants Pacquiao to face next.

To be sure, Arum needs a fighter that can take over for Pacquiao in terms of being a pay-per-view fighter on HBO to continue the money flow to Top Rank, and it’s pretty clear that the 32-year-old Bradley isn’t ever going to be a PPV fighter other than being an opponent. Khan isn’t with Top Rank, so that leaves only Bradley and Crawford.

It seems pretty logical that Arum is going to lean in favor of Crawford for the Pacquiao fight, because if he can’t turn him into a PPV star, then there won’t be any other Top Rank fighters that can take the torch from Pacquiao to become the next PPV fighter for his Arum’s stable of fighters. The only thing is Crawford doesn’t seem to have the popularity, fighting style, or the punching power to become a replacement PPV attraction.

Pacquiao can pass the baton to Crawford, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to take it from him and carry it the way Pacquiao did. Last night’s fight between Crawford and Dierry Jean was like many of the ones in the past for Crawford. It was exciting for 10-20 seconds of every round, but the other 2 ½ minutes of each round was boring. If you go back and watch Crawford’s other fights, it’s pretty much the same way. It’s dull for most of the rounds, but then you get a nice shot here and there from Crawford to make it briefly interesting.

“Arum says Pacquiao’s last opponent is down to Crawford, Khan or Bradley if he beats Rios. I’m down for Crawford or Khan. Either way. #boxing,” Dan Rafael said via Twitter.

Bradley already lost to Pacquiao last year in April by a wide 12 round points decision. The fight was not competitive in the slightest. It did bring in over 800,000 PPV buys, which is obviously why Bradley is receiving consideration for a third fight with Pacquiao. But what Arum doesn’t seem to realize is that there would be diminishing returns if he tried to put Pacquiao and Bradley back in with each other a third time. I think it would be seen by boxing fans as another Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Andre Berto type farewell mismatch, and I would expect the PPV buys for such a fight to be very, very low in the 300,000 range. However, Bradley is better known than Crawford in terms of being known by the casual boxing fans, and he’s arguably a lot more popular too.

Crawford has hardcore boxing fans that like him, at least some of them. But there’s not enough hardcore fans that know of Crawford and like him enough to make a Pacquiao-Crawford fight a success on PPV. Arum would be better off getting someone like Rios or some other fighter like Lucas Matthysse for Pacquiao to fight, because at least those guys would have the fighting style and the potential to bring in the fans.

“I’m ready. Bob, make it happen,” Crawford said after the fight last night with Jean. “I’m ready. I’m gonna let my handlers, (co-managers) Cameron Dunkin and Brian McIntyre, talk to Bob Arum and Team Pacquiao, and let’s see if we can make it happen.”

Arum will likely do what he wants to do by putting Crawford in with Pacquiao and hoping that enough boxing fans purchase the fight on HBO PPV that it still brings in a tidy profit. I think it’ll be a money-losing fight. If Pacquiao is going to get his usual $20 million+ for the fight in terms of guaranteed money, I doubt there will be enough PPV buys to turn a profit. That’s why Arum needs someone like Khan who can at least attract fans to the fight with his popularity, and his ability to give a lot of interesting soundbites.

I think Arum would be really making a mistake if he chooses Crawford for this fight rather than someone like Khan. Arum obviously is banking on a Pacquiao-Crawford fight turning Crawford into a star. I don’t think it will. Rios and Bradley weren’t turned into stars after their losses to Pacquiao. They’re more popular now, but they’re not PPV stars.

If you put them both in PPV fights as the headline attraction, they won’t be able to attract fans to purchase the fights. Crawford is probably worse off than those guys, because he clearly lacks the personality that you see in those two fighters. It’s not enough that a fighter has great talent. They also need to have a ton of charisma and an excellent personality that interests the fans. Crawford seems too insular and shy for him to bring in a lot of fans off of his personality alone. His interviews are often short with few words said. That’s not good either.

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