By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Bob Arum is prone to hyperbole, particularly in the immediate aftermath of one of his fighter’s victories.
As previously reported on BoxingScene.com, the Hall-of-Fame promoter was so impressed with what he witnessed from Terence Crawford on Saturday night, Arum compared the three-division champion to one of the best boxers in the history of the sport following Crawford’s ninth-round stoppage of Jeff Horn.
“He’s a terrific fighter,” Arum said during the post-fight press conference at MGM Grand. “I’ve told everybody. I compare him – and it’s the highest praise that I could give a fighter, a welterweight, the mid-level weight divisions – that he reminds me of ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard. And that, to me, is a great, great compliment because I always thought that Leonard was the best. And this guy is equal, if not better, than Ray was.”
The 30-year-old Crawford, seated beside Arum, appreciated his promoter’s praise.
“That’s a big accomplishment,” said Crawford, who didn’t compare himself to Leonard.
The legendary Leonard won world titles in three weight classes. Before losing the last two fights during the twilight of his career to Terry Norris and Hector Camacho, Leonard went 36-1-1 and knocked out 25 of his opponents.
Leonard, 62, won huge fights against Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler. He was named the Boxing Writers Association of America’s “Fighter of the Year” for 1976 (shared), 1979 and 1981, and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997.
Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) became a champion in a third weight class by beating Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs), who upset Manny Pacquiao by what is commonly considered a controversial unanimous decision 11 months ago in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia. Crawford wants welterweight title unification fights against IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KOs), WBA champ Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) or the winner of the upcoming WBC title bout between Danny Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Shawn Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs), but the Omaha, Nebraska, native likely will fight other opponents first.
“The future is unlimited,” Arum said. “One thing with this ESPN platform, we have the dates, and we’re going to have ‘Bud’ fight as many times as he and [trainer/manager Brian McIntyre] want. You know, if he wants to fight three times a year, if he wants to fight four times a year, we’ve got the dates for him. So it’s up to him, as to how busy he wants to be.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.