It is always difficult for a fighter to duplicate or even match the success of a breakout year, especially when that fighter competes in a starless division. Terence Crawford is the WBO lightweight champion, and he is poised to be one of HBO’s new darlings. Some would argue the fact that Crawford is already getting the royal treatment, at least by today’s HBO standards. He is definitely receiving the push, but I’m sure HBO needs more assurance on their return before investing in creating a genuine star.
Top Rank is convinced of Crawford’s ability to take the banner and run with it, but it is probably more out of necessity than anything. I’m not trying to discredit anything Crawford’s done because his 2014 campaign was impressive, and I’m not downplaying his potential because I always felt like he was on a world-class level.
I am, however, a bit concerned with Crawford’s charisma and his ability to draw in the casual fan with his personality alone.
Adrien Broner has become a significant figure within pop culture, specifically the Hip Hop subgenre of pop culture. I can assure you that his popularity as a fighter today is based on his WorldStar appearances and not his actual fights. I would say that the majority of casual fans were first introduced to Broner through his antics outside of the ring before they ever saw him box a single round.
If Crawford is going to capture the casual fans’ interests, then he needs to do it with compelling performances against competitive opponents (e.g. Gamboa).
That is why his next move is very important for shaping the remainder of his year. I’m not saying a bad move will automatically lead to a bad year, but by carefully strategizing Crawford’s next appearance Top Rank and HBO can dictate what we expect from him for the remainder of the year.
The talk has been Crawford, who will give up his WBO lightweight title to move up to junior welterweight, fighting Chris Algieri for the vacant WBO 140lb belt, the same title that was stripped from Algieri before facing Manny Pacquiao at 147lbs. Algieri was promised a shot at the WBO junior welterweight title upon his comeback to the weight class, but because Crawford was the WBO lightweight champion he is entitled to a title shot.
Bob Arum, Crawford’s promoter, is hoping to make a bout with Algieri a marquee fight for HBO this year.
“I’ve been talking to [Algieri’s] promoter Joe DeGuardia all last week and we had [a conversation] an hour ago. So we’re trying to work out a resolution to this so we can do the fight either in March or April,” Arum said.
The problem is Algieri may not be ready for a fight with Crawford in that time span. Algieri is reportedly considering a change in head trainer, but before he takes a fight of this magnitude he would prefer a softer touch in order to get acclimated with whomever he chooses to work with.
This doesn’t seem to be a problem for Arum, and he is more than willing to allow Algieri the time to get ready for a fight with Crawford.
“That’s okay [if Algieri needs time], if that’s the case it may be wise to pass on the Crawford fight. Let Crawford fight somebody else for the title and then, if Crawford wins, have Crawford contractually obligated to fight [Algieri] for the title. That’s one of the things we’ve discussed. That’s what we’re talking to the WBO about.”
Arum is all too willing to pass on Crawford-Algieri for now, not because he doesn’t want to make the fight, but because he doesn’t want to make the fight this early in the year. If Arum can get Crawford a fight with an opponent of lesser value than Algieri and allow him to pick up a vacant title in the process. Then Top Rank and HBO can pass the fight off as a necessity for Crawford’s 2015 campaign.
After picking up the WBO title, Arum and HBO can build Crawford-Algieri as a flagship fight for the network in 2015. And I’m not saying that Arum would pass on Crawford-Algieri right now, but he knows that the momentum created by Crawford this early in the year will come with higher expectations later in the year.
If Crawford beats Algieri in the first few months of 2015 then where does he go from there? How much bigger would Arum be willing to go and how many options does Crawford really have at that point?
It’s clear that Crawford-Algieri works better for all those concerned if it takes place later in the year. I could be wrong, but I’m not expecting the fight until much later in the year.