After his 10th round Knockout victory over Dierry Jean on HBO, many are calling for Terrence Crawford to be Manny Pacquiao’s opponent for his “Retirement” fight in April on HBO PPV, which should take place on the 10th in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Top Rank has been mum so far about Manny’s opponent, but some sources say that due to his impressive performance that Crawford is the favorite among many to fight Pac-Man. In Crawford, Top Rank has a rising potential star that comes from America’s Midwest, is undefeated with skill and power and has enough talent to remain undefeated so far. A perfect opponent and challenger to Pacquiao.
And yet some feel that due to outside influences and Bob’s penchant for letting things “marinate” he might not only cause fans to miss out on Pacquiao-Crawford but could chase Crawford out of Top Rank and HBO down the line.
Let’s start with the obvious and recognize that Terrence Crawford is a special boxing talent that only comes around once and a while. He is a fighter who can switch to southpaw in the middle of the round and not miss a beat, unlike other fighters. He has fast hands, above-average power, good defense and has a huge fan base in Nebraska that sees him as their “pro franchise.”
In essence, he is what Julio Cesar Chavez Jr should have been had he developed a work ethic
The trouble is that due to the cold war between HBO and Al Haymon most of the sexy names are unable to fight due to politics or don’t want to travel to the US.
When the PBC formed and HBO “blacklisted” all Haymon fighters it hurt the depth of HBO’s roster and forced fans to suffer from many mismatches that should not have been on the network. Thomas Dulorme and Dierry Jean are good fighters but neither was competitive against Crawford.
Most fans understand the landscape of boxing politics is while they despise them, they have grown accustomed to them as a natural way of life. As long as a fighter wants to make big fights fans will for the most part understand.
But Top Rank has to realize that with the retirement of Pacquiao it puts them out of the PPV business for a while as there is no true heir apparent to replace him. Bradley doesn’t have the fanbase, Lomachenko doesn’t have the brand name, Mikey Garcia is still in litigation, and the rest of Top Rank’s stars are mostly prospects that have not developed yet.
Making things more difficult is Manny’s adviser Michael Koncz already saying that “Crawford is not our first choice” and allegedly is pushing for a fight with Amir Khan or Tim Bradley. Pacquiao advisers want this final fight to be one that can allow him to go out with a victory as well as help build his capital as he prepares for a Senate run in the Philippines.
The wildcard in all of this is Al Haymon and the PBC, who has been using their huge war chest to sign talent and pluck fighters from HBO to put them on the PBC Networks. You can bet that Haymon would love nothing more than to not only sign Crawford away put match him up with Broner, Thurman and Porter down the line and rub Arum’s nose in it. The hatred between the two has become even more intense since the Mayweather-Pacquiao PPV that had both parties claiming foul about their treatment they suffered from the other. Signing Crawford would not only be a big signing but it would be a way to put the screws to Arum in more ways than one.
This is not how Top Rank likes to do things as their history has always been that of developing talent and bringing them along slowly as it has worked for them over the years from Sugar Ray Leonard to Oscar De La Hoya to Miguel Cotto and even Kelly Pavlik. They develop them into being names and draws and then when they are ready to push them into becoming superstars that can headline their own pay per views.
That has been the plan with Terrence Crawford, but now they are going to need to figure out if they want to make the gamble and roll the dice with his career.
On one hand they can give the PPV fight to another fighter, build up Crawford some more and eventually match him up with a Tim Bradley or a Kell Brook.
Don’t let him get in with Pac-Man, take a beating and destroy the aura that he is developing right now.
On the other hand, Top Rank has seen other “dream fights” fall by the wayside as they waited for things to marinate with the most famous being the Yuri Gamboa-Juan Manuel Lopez fight that many wanted but was ruined after back to back losses by Lopez. In Crawford-Pacquiao, Top Rank has the opportunity to give Crawford the rub by fighting one of the few boxers who carries mainstream appeal.
Crawford for all his success is still only known in hardcore circles and Nebraska.
In many ways, it’s been a tough couple of years for Top Rank as they have lost Mikey Garcia to legal issues, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr to the PBC, Miguel Cotto to Roc Nation and Kelly Pavlik to retirement. Brandon Rios and Tim Bradley have not been able to become the stars that Top Rank envisioned while Nonito Donaire and Juan Manuel Lopez have both seen their careers fall hard and quick.
Top Rank is still a powerful group in the boxing world but it no longer has a stranglehold on the elite fighters and only Pacquiao is a proven Pay Per View draw.
In many ways, this will be the ultimate gamble and game changer for Top Rank as they now have the chance to roll the dice and build Crawford into a franchise type fighter who can headline a pay per views down the line. If Crawford were to beat Pacquiao, he would give Top Rank an American born world champion with the skill, power and swagger to capture audiences that they have not had since Oscar left them years ago.
So as they say in Vegas “Let the chips fall where they may” because the next move for Top Rank could shape the future of their company, one way or another.