Is the Top Rank stable enough for Terence Crawford?
By Gav Duthie: Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford carved his name in the history books on Saturday night when he became the first undisputed champion of boxing since Jermaine Taylor 12 years ago. It has been extremely difficult to become fully unified champion since the WBO became mainstream in the late 90s as all 4 organizations (WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO) rarely sanction fights against each other.
The governing bodies appear to be working harder to promote the sport and the talented Crawford is now one of boxing’s biggest names. He may just be getting used to the belts around his waist but to me it feels like this is the end of his journey at junior welterweight. What next for him though? The names are obvious Mikey Garcia, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr. but which fights are actually viable and what is he most likely to do next with Bob Arum guiding his career.
It’s hard to criticize Bob Arum and Top Ranks guidance of Crawford’s so far. He has helped make him a two weight and unified undisputed world champion. Arum has a huge stable of fighters probably the most in boxing and plenty to keep you busy. His links with HBO also mean that boxers have a huge platform with which to work with. This strength though can also be a weakness. Arum’s reluctance to work with other top promoters like Oscar De La Hoya and Al Haymon make some of the biggest fights difficult to make. Terence Crawford has beaten some very good fighters but none of them truly great. His list includes Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Raymundo Beltran, Dierry Jean, Viktor Postol, John Molina, Felix Diaz and most recently Julius Indongo. These wins have made him an undefeated undisputed champion. The next step for any boxer is to either win titles in several weight divisions or win career defining fights against other top fighters. I’m not quite sure Top Rank can deliver this.
Mikey Garcia – This is the best if not the only fight at 140lb. Believe me though it is a complete non-starter. Garcia missed 2 and a half years of his career trying to break his Top Rank contract. Their relationship is very frosty and it is very unlikely that they would agree to negotiate terms.
Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia – Both promoted by Al Haymon and televised on PBC. There hasn’t been much evidence of Haymon and Arum working on big fights so I would be surprised if he would meet either of these two unless public demand became overwhelming.
Errol Spence Jr. – This one is slightly more possible given that Spence doesn’t have a promoter. Unfortunately, Arum dismissed Pacquiao fighting Spence in favor of Jeff Horn so I doubt he would go after Spence until he had exhausted all other opportunities within his own group like Mike Alvarado 38-4 (26) and Konstantin Ponomarev 32-0 (13).
Crawford’s likely next fight?
He will probably take a break and Arum will watch things unfold. Each of the 4 organizations will want to enforce mandatory title shots. Sergey Lipinets is already complaining about his IBF opportunity. Only Mikey Garcia or perhaps Adrien Broner are the big fights at 140lbs. Regis Prograis is coming through but in reality, Crawford is finished with 140lbs. He may relinquish his titles and move up. If Pacquiao and Horn agree a rematch it is quite likely Crawford would be in the mix to fight the winner. If Horn wins you can bet that he will then face Crawford for the WBO welterweight title. If Pacquiao gets revenge then a fight with Crawford also has potential. This would all depend on whether Pacquiao decided to retire. Given the likelihood that Pacquiao would win and retire the WBO title would become vacant again. Enter Jessie Vargas. Another Top Rank fighter you can assume would fight Crawford for the vacant title.
But Top Rank was enough for Pacquiao
Bob Arum manages many top fighters but over the last decade Pacquiao has been the only true pound for pound star. Arum’s stable of fighters seemed to be enough for the Filipino except for the Mayweather fight he had an entire career against other Top Rank opponents. The difference between Pacquiao and Crawford was the rivalries. 7 of Pacquiao’s fights came against Juan Manuel Marquez (4) and Tim Bradley (3). The Bradley trilogy was one that nobody asked for and Marquez just seemed to always have Pacquiao’s number. The Marquez rivalry and the Bradley robbery allowed Arum to keep coming back to those fights. Unfortunately for Crawford there doesn’t seem to be anyone else around good enough to give him a trilogy rivalry.
WBC – Keith Thurman
WBA Super – Keith Thurman
WBA Regular – Lamont Peterson
IBF – Errol Spence Jr.
WBO – Jeff Horn
If as I predicted Crawford sooner or later becomes the WBO champion and a dominant champion emerges from a contest between Thurman and Spence the demand for a Crawford fight will be huge. The question is will Top Rank deliver?