Bob Arum has turned to mixed martial arts in his quest to find an appealing opponent for Terence Crawford.
Arum told ESPN.com on Wednesday that he would like to make a two-fight deal for Crawford to fight UFC superstar Conor McGregor. According to Arum, one of those fights would be a boxing match and the other would be an MMA match.
Floyd Mayweather dominated McGregor in the only boxing match of McGregor’s career, a 10th-round, technical-knockout defeat in a 154-pound bout contested in August 2017. McGregor stated both before and after destroying Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the first round of the main event at UFC 246 on Saturday night that he wants a rematch with Mayweather in a boxing match.
There doesn’t figure to be much interest in Mayweather-McGregor II, considering the one-sided nature of their fight nearly 2½ years ago at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. But having McGregor meet the WBO welterweight champion in a UFC Octagon and a boxing ring would generate plenty of attention and revenue.
“You’ve got an elite boxer in Terence Crawford fighting an elite MMA guy in Conor McGregor under MMA rules,” Arum told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “You don’t think that would be interesting and something the public would want to see? I think it’s very realistic.”
Arum added that there have been discussions regarding Crawford-McGregor, but the Hall-of-Fame promoter didn’t offer specifics about those talks.
“Whenever they are ready, we are ready,” Arum said, referring to UFC president Dana White and McGregor. “We’d do the MMA fight first if that’s what they want.”
ESPN has exclusive content deals with Arum’s promotional company, Top Rank Inc., and UFC.
Arum’s emphasis on Crawford-McGregor comes at a time when his undefeated three-division champion doesn’t have a compelling opponent for his first fight of 2020.
Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) hasn’t been able to get one of Premier Boxing Champions’ elite welterweights – most prominently Errol Spence Jr. and Manny Pacquiao – to fight him. Arum doesn’t promote a welterweight worthy of facing Crawford next and the Omaha, Nebraska, native satisfied his mandatory obligation with the WBO in his last fight – a ninth-round stoppage of Lithuania’s Egidjius Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs) on December 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“I can’t get none of these top welterweights in the ring to fight me, so whatever is clever,” Crawford told ESPN.com in reference to challenging McGregor in an MMA match. “I’m with it all.”
The 32-year-old Crawford wrestled in middle school and comes from a family of former wrestlers. He never has competed in MMA, but Crawford is still confident he could compete with the brash Irishman in the Octagon.
“I’m a fighter first,” Crawford said. “As a fighter, I would entertain it. I just have to have the proper time to prepare myself. It would be a little more than boxing training. I haven’t been in that [wrestling] environment in a long time, but most definitely I feel I can compete with anyone given the proper time to train on the MMA side, being that I have a wrestling background.
“McGregor would have worry about my stand-up game as well. It would be interesting. He’s got good kicks and he’s strong. I’d have to prepare myself for those things, but I feel I would be all right.”
If nothing else, the extremely competitive Crawford is intrigued by this idea.
“A lot of people may say if Terence goes into the Octagon, he will get crushed,” Crawford said. “But they don’t know me.”
Arum thinks Crawford would have a better chance of winning an MMA match against McGregor than McGregor would have to defeat Crawford in a boxing ring.
“Fighting Crawford would be great for McGregor because he has no chance in a boxing match, except to pick up a check,” Arum said. “In an MMA match, he would be the favorite, but Crawford would have a chance because he’s one tough dude and because he has a wrestling background. I think that Crawford is the one boxer that can compete with an elite MMA guy under MMA rules. We’d do two fights so we can level the playing field by fighting in both disciplines. Mayweather and Pacquiao would never fight under MMA rules. Crawford would.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.