WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) will take on Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) at the Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday immediately after the Heisman Trophy presentation on ESPN.
If Crawford comfortably passes his mandatory test against Kavaliauskas, Top Rank head Bob Arum has his sights set on landing the star of his stable a more meaningful fight in 2020.
He mentioned a growing willingness to work with Al Haymon given the fact that he and the PBC head have been in daily communication working together to stage the anticipated rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury on Feb. 22.
“If you look at the PBC group, they only have one interesting fight there now that Spence is shelved for a while and that is Shawn Porter,” Arum told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “There is nobody else really that resonates as a big fight. Porter would be interesting. The public looks forward to big fights, and Porter certainly would be one of them. Other than that, who does PBC have to do any business?
“Danny Garcia is a little past his sell date. We’re not interested in Danny Garcia. That’s a license to lose money. That fight makes no sense. It’s not economically feasible.
“Manny Pacquiao would never fight Crawford, and that goes back to when I was promoting Pacquiao. Pacquiao versus Crawford is not a very competitive fight. Forget Pacquiao. We offered Pacquiao a sh-tload of money to fight Crawford and he didn’t want to fight. But I was promoting him, so I wasn’t going to put it on Manny, I put it on me. I was covering for Pacquiao.”
Another scenario Arum introduced was Crawfrod climbing up to super welterweight, even though the fighter was non-committal himself for a future at 154.
“He may want to go up to 154 to fight WBO champion Patrick Teixeira,” said Arum. “Then, there are terrific junior welterweights who want to move up to fight him, like Jose Ramirez, Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis. That’s where we’re looking for big fights for him.”
The ultimate option is Errol Spence Jr., and the super fight “could be done in less than an hour,” Arum noted, once the WBC and IBF champion is ready to resume his career following a devastating car accident.
“Al Haymon and I discussed Crawford-Spence before the accident and we were well on our way to making that fight,” said Arum. “While we never agreed, we were in effect circling around the same terms that we have for Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. But realistically, we can’t count on it because we can’t count on when he’ll be available.
“If you take Spence out of the mix, you have to talk about what [PBC] has left. Other than Porter, I don’t know where they have a big fight.”
When told that Vergil Ortiz Jr., Golden Boy’s undefeated touted knockout artist, would like to try his hand at Crawford at the tender age of 21 if he’s presented the opportunity, Arum said he’d take it, even if they have a clear advantage over the game yet raw fighter.
“Oscar De La Hoya and Eric Gomez know enough that it would be suicide to put Vergil Ortiz Jr. in the ring with Terence, but if they want to do it, we’re happy to work with them,” said Arum.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at [email protected].