Once Terence Crawford gets in the ring, his history tells us that he can pretty much make anything he wants happen. Where the three-division world champ’s wishes and wants fall apart, however, is outside the ring, in the nebulous and confounding world of boxing business.
One source of constant frustration for the 34-year-old was his inability to land a big-money passing of the torch bout with the legendary multi-division world champ and first ballot Hall of Famer, Manny Pacquiao.
Crawford had lusted after the chance to meet the Filipino icon since he was a lightweight and all throughout his move from junior welterweight to welterweight. Despite being promotional stablemates at Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions throughout much of his rise to prominence, Crawford was never able to land that Pacquiao opportunity he felt would launch him to next-level stardom.
But, ironically enough, when Pacquiao became a promotional free agent, the Crawford-Pacquiao fight reportedly got closest to being made.
“I was real disappointed not getting that fight,” Crawford detailed to RingTV.com, prior to his November 20 bout with Shawn Porter.
“We were two days from securing the fight, a lot of things happened, Manny Pacquiao’s side lied to us, it’s a whole bunch of things and reasons why that fight didn’t happen.”
“Everything happens for a reason, the fight didn’t take place and we’re here now,” Crawford added.
According to promoter Bob Arum, the fight fell apart due to funding issues. Specifically, the investment group fronting the money to stage the fight in Abu Dhabi failed to come through with the money on the required dates.
“We had signed contracts and everything and they [the investment group] were supposed to put up the money,” Arum said. “Well, I’ve been waiting two weeks for the money. Nobody put up the money after promising they would. Both [Pacquiao and Crawford] had agreed and we had a signed agreement from this group in Abu Dhabi subject to the money getting put up by the Abu Dhabi government.”
With no actual funding, the fight fell apart and Pacquiao moved on to another big challenge in Errol Spence. And when the Spence fight fell apart due to a Spence eye injury, Pacquiao then moved on to Yordenis Ugas, which would, of course, result in an upset defeat in what would turn out to be his last bout.
Crawford would move on to a tenth-round TKO victory over Shawn Porter, arguably, the biggest challenge of his career up to that point.
But what if the stars had aligned perfectly for the Pacquiao-Crawford clash that was among the most enticing matchups of the time and, for Crawford, the fight he wanted most?
Given what we saw from Pacquiao in the Ugas bout and what we saw from Crawford in his win over Porter, it could be fair to assume that the Omaha, Nebraska native and reigning WBO welterweight champ would’ve emerged victorious. The 42-year-old Pacquiao looked slowed down and somewhat sluggish, unable to kick his efforts into the next gear needed to overcome a good, but not at all overwhelming talent in Ugas. Meanwhile, Crawford took some time in his bout with Porter to figure out his hard-charging, complex opponent before turning up the heat and taking him out in exciting fashion.
If Crawford had beaten Pacquiao, and had done so in impressive fashion, he would’ve gotten that boost he long desired. He would’ve made some headlines and gotten a touch of mainstream attention. He also would’ve added that big name to a legacy in need of more weight.
But, realistically, Crawford would be in the same spot he’s in now when it comes to the business side of things. A win over Pacquiao would not make it easier to get a bout with Errol Spence. He’d still need to make some concessions and hope for a touch of good fortune when it comes to landing big bouts with any of the other top welterweight stars currently fighting under the Premier Boxing Champions banner.
Maybe the Porter fight would’ve happened after the Pacquiao win. Maybe those two victories, back to back, would’ve pushed him to next-level stardom. But maybe not.
Maybe the boxing business is just not conducive to making guys like Crawford– media unfriendly, American, no-nonsense, no flash fighters– stars anymore. It could be that, without an ethnic or nationalistic support base, there’s no way to reach next level stardom these days.
By not getting the Pacquiao fight, Crawford likely only missed out on some money and the chance to add a name to his resume. The fans, however, missed out on a classic.