Bob Arum is much more optimistic about a Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter fight happening than he was earlier this year.
Crawford’s longtime promoter once made what was deemed an unacceptable $1 million offer to Porter to challenge Crawford for his WBO welterweight title. Now that the WBO has declared the number two-ranked Porter its mandatory contender for Crawford’s WBO 147-pound crown, Arum is optimistic that Crawford will oppose Porter next.
“Last year, there was no mandatory involved,” Arum told BoxingScene.com on Thursday. “This year, it’s a fight that’s been demanded by the [WBO], and let’s see how we can get it done. It’s a lot different vibe when an organization mandates a fight that is a real fight. It’s another thing when an organization mandates a fight that is not competitive, which happens so many times. But nobody can say that this fight isn’t competitive.”
The WBO announced late Wednesday night that it installed Porter as the mandatory challenger for the welterweight title Crawford won from Australia’s Jeff Horn in June 2018. Vergil Ortiz Jr. (17-0, 17 KOs), who will fight Egidijus Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs) on August 14, is the WBO’s number one contender for Crawford’s championship.
Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), who is believed to have one fight left on his contract with Arum’s Top Rank Inc., knocked out former IBF welterweight champ Kell Brook (39-3, 27 KOs) in the fourth round of his last fight November 14 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Brook beat Porter by majority decision in a 12-round IBF welterweight championship match in August 2014, but Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs) gave unbeaten IBF/WBC welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. his toughest test two fights ago and defeated former WBC champ Danny Garcia convincingly a year earlier.
Porter, 33, would be considered Crawford’s most formidable foe since the former undisputed junior welterweight champion moved up to welterweight three years ago. Nevertheless, Arum was in no mood Thursday to discuss how opposing Porter would enhance the 33-year-old Crawford’s legacy.
“F--- his legacy,” Arum said. “F--- any of that. He has to fight this fight to keep his title, and I’ll leave his legacy or lack of legacy up to you. Terence is a terrific fighter. He’s fought everybody that we can get for him and, obviously, Porter is the biggest name that he will have fought recently.”
If TGB Promotions, which represents Porter and is aligned with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, and Arum’s Top Rank are to collaborate on Crawford-Porter, it could be a joint pay-per-view venture between ESPN (Crawford) and FOX Sports (Porter).
Porter’s past three fights were televised by FOX or FOX Sports Pay-Per-View. The Akron, Ohio, native also is an analyst for FOX’s boxing broadcasts.
If Top Rank and PBC can’t complete a deal within the 30-day window afforded by the WBO, Crawford-Porter would go to purse bid. The WBO announced Wednesday night that the purse split for Crawford-Porter would be 60-40 in Crawford’s favor if it goes to purse bid.
The WBO’s purse bids typically favor the champion by an 80-20 margin, but the WBO evaluated the purses for both boxers’ past three fights and determined 60-40 would be fair. If Crawford-Porter gets to a purse bid, PBC and Top Rank would risk getting out-bid by a company that doesn’t promote Crawford or Porter.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get it done,” Arum said of working with TGB and PBC. “I mean, it’s a good fight and we’re prepared to do it. Let’s see how it works out. I thought [the WBO was] very fair to Porter, Porter’s side, with the 40 percent. And I think it’ll do reasonably well on pay-per-view.”
TGB and Top Rank have until August 20 to complete a deal, which would avoid a purse bid.
“The way we left it was that [Top Rank president] Todd [duBoef] would talk to the PBC people, who we’re working with now, to see what could be done on a cooperative basis,” Arum said. “In 30 days, we’ll either get it done or it’ll go to purse bid. But I’m optimistic that we can get it done. It’s a terrific fight and I think people will be interested. And I think it’ll do some decent money.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.