There was a time when Bob Arum was sure we’d never see a Manny Pacquiao-Terence Crawford fight.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, didn’t like that fight for the Filipino icon when Arum’s company, Top Rank Inc., represented Pacquiao. Even Arum himself didn’t think Pacquiao would have a chance to defeat Crawford because Crawford was too good and too young for him.
A few years later, Arum finds himself exploring the possibility of finally putting together Pacquiao-Crawford.
“These are tentative talks,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “To make it happen, we’d have to do it outside of the United States, and outside of the Philippines, of course. And we’d have to make it work with a big site fee.”
Pacquiao parted ways with Arum after his surprising loss to Australian underdog Jeff Horn in July 2017, but the WBA welterweight champion apparently is willing to work with his former promoter to secure the Crawford fight. For Crawford, fighting even a 41-year-old Pacquiao would afford him the high-profile welterweight fight he has sought since the WBO champion moved up from the 140-pound division two years ago.
“I had feelers out before all of his happened with the coronavirus,” Arum explained, “where it was pretty much down the line about getting a Pacquiao-Crawford fight on late in the summer or in the fall. Then, of course, everything blew up. But I am optimistic that I will be able to continue with these talks in the next month or so. I talked to Terence and [trainer/manager Brian McIntyre] about it. It appears to me that Crawford and Pacquiao wanna go ahead with that fight.
“So, we’ll have to see. The world is different from what it was the end of January, mid-February, and we’ll have to see what it looks like when we get through this. It would be great, particularly if the economics for that fight work, which would’ve happened absent this coronavirus situation.”
The 88-year-old Arum still thinks Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) would beat Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), but he considers it a more competitive fight now that Pacquiao has beaten Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman in three straight bouts.
“If I had to bet the fight, I’d bet Crawford,” Arum said. “But now I think Pacquiao is in there with a good chance. There’s no question that it’ll be an entertaining fight. Manny seems dedicated again. I’ve had that situation before, where guys get to be a little older, but somehow their skills aren’t diminished. Look at ‘Big’ George Foreman winning the [heavyweight] title at 45.”
The 32-year-old Crawford, of Omaha, Nebraska, probably would be a sizeable favorite to beat Pacquaio, despite Pacquiao’s success since mid-2018.
Arum added that if the site fee were large enough, a Pacquiao-Crawford fight could be staged without fans in attendance outside of the U.S. He didn’t mention potential foreign sites for what would be a welterweight title unification fight.
“If somebody was willing to put up a big site fee, and do it without fans for the publicity, that might work,” Arum said. “Or maybe not do it without fans, but do it with safe-distance seating, which I’ve been exploring.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.