By Keith Idec
How bad did Bob Arum want to bring back Terence Crawford to his hometown?
So much that once HBO Sports’ Peter Nelson made a December 10 date available for Crawford’s return, Arum’s Top Rank Inc. paid Creighton University a $35,000 fee to move its scheduled men’s basketball home game against Longwood University (Virginia) from Saturday night at CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha, to Friday night.
That enabled Arum to schedule Crawford’s defenses of his WBC and WBO 140-pound championships against John Molina Jr. (29-6, 23 KOs) for Saturday night at CenturyLink Center (HBO; 9:35 p.m. ET/PT).
“I called it a step-aside fee,” said Carl Moretti, Top Rank’s vice president of boxing operations. “I’ve paid step-aside fees to three-lettered organizations [IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO]. I’ve never paid step-aside fees to four-lettered organizations, like the NCAA.”
Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) is an avid follower of unbeaten Creighton (8-0), ranked No. 10 in The Associated Press Top 25, and attends home games regularly.
“Crawford is a big fan of Creighton,” Moretti said. “He knows Coach [Greg] McDermott, they know him, they respect him and look at him as a pro franchise there [in Omaha]. I think because it was Crawford, it was HBO and he was coming back home, they were amenable to doing it. And the fact that they’re not playing Villanova or a team like that, they were open to it and were able to move the game.”
The negotiation between Top Rank and Creighton clearly was different from what Creighton officials have become accustomed when it comes to scheduling, or in this case, rescheduling games.
“When you first go to them,” Moretti said, “they look at you and say, ‘What do you mean, you don’t know the date or if the fight’s happening?’ And we say, ‘Listen, this is boxing. This isn’t NCAA basketball, where you schedule a game and you know you’re gonna have something. This works a little bit different.’ Once they understood that, we were able to do it. But initially, we had to let them know this is boxing, not a normal sport.”
Another crowd in excess of 10,000 is expected to attend the card headlined by the Crawford-Molina match. Crawford’s first three fights at CenturyLink Center – against Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ray Beltran and Dierry Jean – each drew in excess of 10,000 fans.
Tickets to this card went on sale barely four weeks before December 10, but it still will draw a five-figure crowd.
“This could be the biggest crowd yet in Omaha,” Moretti said, “based on the response that we’ve had.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.