The prospect of a Manny Pacquiao-Terence Crawford fight is dead, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told BoxingScene.
Arum said there was deal agreed to for Crawford to defend his WBO welterweight world title against Pacquiao, the all-time great eight-division world champion, on June 5 in the main event of an ESPN pay-per-view event from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Arum said the terms had been agreed to but that the money that was supposed to be put up by a specific deadline was not.
“Look, what happened to us in Abu Dhabi was we had signed contracts and everything and they were supposed to put up the money,” Arum said to BoxingScene.com. “Well, I’ve been waiting two weeks for the money. Nobody put up the money after promising they would.
“Both (Pacquiao and Crawford) had agreed and we had a signed agreement from this group in Abu Dhabi subject to the money getting put up by the Abu Dhabi government.”
With deadlines missed and no money coming through, the fight is off, Arum said.
“Sure, I’m disappointed about that,” Arum said. “Why do you think I’m so pessimistic? What’s happening is they (overseas investors) make these deals and they look good and so forth and then somebody says, ‘Hey, with the Covid (pandemic), who’s coming?’ (Because of the coronavirus pandemic) everybody is counting on money from outside the United States.”
Arum declined to say the dollar figure the investors had agreed to put up in a deal brokered by former Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz, but Arum acknowledged that because of the coronavirus pandemic it would have been virtually impossible to have a large crowd in the UAE for the fight this summer.
Arum is dealing with a similar issue with Saudi Arabian investors, who are supposed to put up $150 million site fee for a late July/early August undisputed heavyweight world championship fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. However, Arum claims that Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who is spearheading the site deal, promised a binding agreement about two weeks ago but has yet to produce one and since gone “radio silent.”
Arum said that even with Pacquiao-Crawford falling through – which was always viewed as a long shot to happen – he is planning another Crawford fight.
“We’re gonna have a fight. Crawford will be in the ring by September,” Arum said. “We have certain (names) but I’m not going to reveal it until I’ve got it done.”
Arum will have to go outside the Top Rank stable to find a Crawford opponent, which he acknowledged.
“It’s not a Top Rank boxer,” Arum said.
The 33-year-old Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, has won world titles in three weight classes and has made four welterweight defenses, most recently a fourth-round knockout of former titlist Kell Brook. Crawford’s promotional agreement with Top Rank is reportedly up in October.
Arum has struggled to find top opponents for Crawford to face because most of the best welterweights are with Premier Boxing Champions fighting each other, including unified titlist Errol Spence Jr. That is a fight that looms as one of the biggest in boxing if the sides could make a deal.
Filipino legend Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), 42, whose fighting schedule is limited to certain times of the year because of his duties as a senator in the Philippines, has been linked to various fights but has not boxed since dropping Keith Thurman in the first round and winning a decision to claim his welterweight world title in July 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Because of Pacquiao’s inactivity, the WBA stripped him in January of the title he won from Thurman and reclassified him as a so-called “champion in recess.”
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.