Bob Arum wouldn’t mind matching Terence Crawford against Shawn Porter.
Crawford’s promoter admittedly is more interested in putting together a more lucrative Crawford-Errol Spence Jr. fight, but Crawford-Porter is more intriguing to Arum than it was this time a year ago. Arum’s opinion of Porter completely changed once the former IBF and WBC welterweight champion tested Spence like no previous opponent in a split-decision defeat seven months ago at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Porter would become the most accomplished opponent of Crawford’s career if they were to square off. The durable, rugged Porter would be a more appealing opponent than England’s Kell Brook, at least among American boxing fans, despite that Brook beat Porter by majority decision 5½ years ago to win the IBF 147-pound crown.
Brook (39-2, 27 KOs) is the supposed front-runner to face Crawford next. Arum has had conversations with Brook’s representatives about Brook boxing Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) in the Omaha, Nebraska, native’s first fight following the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the 32-year-old Porter (30-3-1, 17 KOs) has engaged in fantastic action fights against Spence and Keith Thurman, both of whom were unbeaten when they topped Porter, and has defeated Danny Garcia since the Brook bout. Las Vegas’ Porter also has enhanced his profile by battling Spence in a pay-per-view main event and by serving as an analyst for FOX Sports’ boxing broadcasts.
Those factors all make sense to Arum. The 88-year-old promoter also is encouraged by Porter’s revelation last month that he and Crawford had agreed to meet to discuss the possibility of fighting each other before the coronavirus crisis changed everyone’s plans.
Arum’s primary problem with Crawford-Porter is that it’ll likely be more expensive to make than the fight is worth, particularly in a post-pandemic economy within which cost-conscious consumers will be more reluctant than usual to pay $70 or $80 to watch it.
“I’m happy that Shawn and Terence wanna sit and talk about a fight,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “But, you know, that’s the first step. The second step is how in the hell do you afford the fight? And how do you put it on?”
Crawford-Porter might not sell out an arena, though that would depend on where Arum and Al Haymon, Porter’s adviser, would agree to put that fight for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title. It isn’t the type of fight for which Arum and Haymon could ignore the ticket revenue, either, thus it wouldn’t be contested without fans in attendance.
There are platform complications when it comes to Crawford-Porter, too.
The guarantees Porter and Crawford would want would make their fight too expensive to air live on ESPN or FOX. But their fight isn’t on the same level as Crawford-Spence, thus it might not generate the type of pay-per-view revenue necessary to make it worthwhile to meet their asking prices.
If after speaking to Porter, however, Crawford wants that fight, Arum will at least explore if it is financially feasible.
“Obviously, I don’t do the fighting, Terence does,” Arum said. “I like Shawn Porter, but he’s not my fighter. If Terence wants to do that fight, I’ll do my best to see it happen. But again, wanting a fight, even when both fighters want it, the question is who’s gonna pay for it? And that’s a whole, big problem. You certainly couldn’t do that fight without an audience.
“Even if you rely on the pay-per-view revenue, who knows how robust it’ll be? People who watch pay-per-view usually do it with a whole group of people in their homes. And who knows when people are gonna be willing to open up their homes to a substantial number of people? There’s a lot of uncertainty now. We’ve gotta go slow. We can’t answer the questions as if we were back in the old days, when things were normal.”
That said, Crawford needs to face another elite welterweight if his long-discussed showdown with Spence cannot be made anytime in the foreseeable future. Arum told BoxingScene.com recently that he is exploring putting together a Crawford-Manny Pacquiao bout, but that’d require an enormous monetary commitment from investors overseas and it would take place outside of the United States.
Porter, meanwhile, would be Crawford’s most imposing opponent to date. Crawford and Porter are friends, yet even Porter acknowledged recently that Crawford needs a “true” test in the welterweight division.
“I’m not sure if and when that fight’s gonna happen,” Porter said during a recent Facebook Live interaction with fans. “I’ll keep it like this, man – as far as I know, every fight is on the table, especially at this point. We’re at a point right now where everybody’s gonna kinda have to reset and get everything back into order. You know, some of the fighters that, you know, were champions before all of this happened, there’s no telling what’s gonna happen once we get back going.
“So, you know, everybody’s on the table. Everybody’s on the board. As y’all already know, Shawn Porter is not a ducker. I don’t duck anyone. If it’s bringing the money and it’s bringing the excitement, it’s bringing ‘Showtime’ Shawn Porter. So, that’s what I’m here to do. If it happens to be Bud [Crawford], that will be a conversation that he and I are gonna have.”
Since he moved up from 140 pounds two years ago, the 32-year-old Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) has stopped Jeff Horn, Jose Benavidez Jr., Amir Khan and Egidijus Kavaliauskas in his four welterweight fights.
Horn (20-2-1, 13 KOs), who upset Pacquiao to win the WBO 147-pound crown 11 months earlier, Benavidez (27-1, 18 KOs) and Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs) hadn’t lost before Crawford defeated them.
Beating Porter would afford Crawford much more credibility as a welterweight than victories over any of those four fighters. In addition to his close losses to Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) and Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC), Porter has defeated Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner, Paulie Malignaggi, Yordenis Ugas, Andre Berto and Devon Alexander.
“I look at all of the welterweights, and I think that Porter is the most competitive with Crawford,” Arum said. “And the reason I say that – I didn’t believe that before the Spence fight. But Porter was, you know, he lost by a whisker. He and Spence, that night, were equal. So, everybody said that the Spence-Crawford fight would be a great fight. God knows when or if it’ll ever happen, so Porter is the next best guy. He proved himself with Spence.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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