Terence Crawford: PBC and Top Rank.
One question is seemingly on the minds of a lot boxing fans and a conversation topic in many boxing forums. “Why did Terence Crawford renew his deal with Top Rank instead of signing the PBC?” The purpose of this article is to clarify the reasoning behind his monumental decision.
Gearing Up to Have Control of a Network
First of all, we have to look at the boxing landscape of 2018, which is quite different than it is today. In July of 2018, Bob Arum signed an exclusive deal with ESPN to provide boxing programming.
This deal would give Arum similar power to what Eddie Hearn currently has at DAZN. This is unlike most promoter/network deals, where there’s an executive representing the network that signs off on programming. Here, Arum would act as the director of boxing programming for ESPN. This would allow him budgetary latitude that he’d never enjoyed before in any previous business model.
One of his first moves was to retain the services of Crawford. At the time, the Omaha native was the first undisputed champion in eleven years and had recently won the WBO welterweight title over Jeff Horn.
Also in the works, Arum was looking to retain the services of eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, who’d spent most of his career with Top Rank. Pacquiao was, and still is, one of the biggest draws in the sport.
This offered Crawford a title in a new division, access to one of the most lucrative fights in the sport, and a significant increase in fight guarantees. This rationalizes the decision to renew his deal in September of 2018. The stars were aligning perfectly for Crawford to crossover into super stardom, or so it seemed.
Pacquiao wasn’t so keen on passing the torch to Terence Crawford, nor was he ready to give up his position as one of the top earners in the sport. Arum would make several attempts to get the Filipino Congressman to sign an extension that would include a Crawford bout.
The Filipino legend, however, had other ideas and began to look elsewhere for a promoter. In October of 2018, he would sign with the rival Premier Boxing Champions. At the time, this was a setback to Top Rank and Crawford’s plans, but with Pacquiao’s advanced age, not a disaster.
The magnitude of not being able to secure the eight division champion’s services is now being felt by all parties involved. The WBO champion has fought in two events since joining ESPN and neither has been a commercial success.
The consequences of this are magnified because the remaining champions in the welterweight division reside with PBC. This has virtually nullified the negotiating power of Top Rank in regards to securing a co-promotional event.
Pacquiao, however, has enjoyed a career renaissance with victories over Adrien Broner and former WBA super champion Keith Thurman. These events also were commercial successes and have made Pacquiao the “Money Man” of the division. It also makes the Congressman the priority for all of his PBC stablemates.
In conclusion, it’s hard to fault Crawford for his decision. While there were more champions to fight at PBC, had he gotten the Pacquiao “trump card,” he’d have been the kingpin. While he and Top Rank will have to regroup to re-position themselves, they’ll basically have to play the waiting game.
By: Corey Cunningham