By Andreas Hale
Top Rank and ESPN are about to jump into the pay-per-view business in 2018 on April 14th with Terence Crawford vs. Jeff Horn and a co-main event of Manny Pacquiao vs. Mike Alvarado.
Are you excited? Honestly, few are anticipating this fight because there’s a lack of mainstream appeal and nothing has been done to move the needle that would have fans excited to open their wallets for this pay-per-view.
Obviously, this card had to be moved to PPV in order to make the numbers work to pay the fighters. But, man, do they have an uphill battle to try and capture the attention of the boxing community.
This pay-per-view comes right in the midst of a pretty busy boxing schedule that features more interesting fights on free television and one pay-per-view that overshadows everything else in boxing at the moment.
Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker (Showtime - March 31st)
Jarrett Hurd vs. Erislandy Lara (Showtime - April 7)
Crawford vs. Horn & Pacquiao-Alvarado (PPV - April 14)
Adrien Broner vs. Omar Figueroa (Showtime - April 21)
Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez (PPV - May 5)
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. TBA (ESPN - May 12)
Keith Thurman vs. TBA & Badou Jack vs. Adonis Stevenson (Showtime - May 19)
One can argue that Crawford-Horn is perhaps the least compelling of all the upcoming fights when you look at it from a competitive standpoint and pair that with name recognition. As great as Crawford has been, his name doesn’t quite generate a buzz like Lomachenko does. And as far as competition goes, nobody really thinks that Horn has a shot against the undefeated Nebraskan. Say what you want about Hurd-Lara in terms of excitement, but it’s more of a toss up fight than Crawford-Horn.
That being said, there’s only one PPV on this list of fights that is worth the price of admission (Hint: It’s not Crawford-Horn). To ask people to cough up their hard earned cash when they are getting better fights for free on Showtime is asking a lot. Top Rank and ESPN are in the unenviable position where they have to push this fight to the moon despite knowing that Crawford hasn’t quite clicked with the mainstream crowd and nobody really cares about Manny Pacquiao anymore. To be clear, it’s sad that it is like this because Terence Crawford is a spectacular fighter. But there’s a combination of limited exposure and Crawford’s own persona that keeps him from breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling.
If the endgame is to have Crawford and Pacquiao square off before the end of the year, somebody needs to inform Top Rank that beating Pacman in 2018 means a lot less than it did in 2008. It’s unfortunate because Pacquiao would have been the perfect name for Crawford to thrust his name into the spotlight. Instead, the milk has been in the refrigerator well past the expiration date and it’s unnecessary to drink it. Let’s be honest, ever since Juan Manuel Marquez sent Pacquiao into the land of Internet memes, he hasn’t been the same. You could blame it on Floyd Mayweather but he was damaged goods before that fight.
Beating Manny Pacquiao did little to nothing to improve Horn’s mainstream appeal. However, it did everything to tarnish Pacquiao’s legacy. He’s facing a shopworn Mike Alvarado who has clearly not been the same since his wars with Brandon Rios three years ago. If Pacquiao manages to score a knockout, there will be very few who would see that as a resurrection of his career. More importantly, who ever thought that Manny Pacquiao would be somebody’s co-main event? Yet, here we are.
Meanwhile, Crawford is in a tough spot. He’s moving to 147, where all of the top names compete under the PBC umbrella. He’s limited when it comes to options. Horn holds a world title so there’s an excuse to plug in when people ask why the former unified 140-pound champion is taking on a guy that nobody is expecting to win. It would be great if Crawford and Arum could somehow coerce Al Haymon to do business with them. However, the risk is much higher than the reward when it comes to a PBC fighter taking on Crawford. Arum will need to do something to recoup the money invested into Crawford while finding opponents to keep him busy while he tries to score a major fight.
But, again, if the answer is Manny Pacquiao, we’ve been asking the wrong questions.
Hopefully, Top Rank will find a way to expose Crawford to a wider audience. Whether that be through appearances outside of boxing or a more aggressive demeanor for Bud, something needs to be done. He’s far too good to fly under the radar with the mainstream audience. Maybe he puts on a scintillating exhibition against Jeff Horn that turns a few heads?
But what about the unlikely case that Horn wins? That certainly has to be Bob Arum’s worst nightmare as he will witness the past and the future dissolving into sand right in front of his eyes.
The bright side about all of this is that Crawford is cashing checks. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to have fans excited for this next PPV.