Battle lines had been drawn long ago, but former two-division world champ Timothy Bradley appears to have made things even more heated between rival boxing factions Top Rank Promotions and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
Last Saturday night, after WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford stopped challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the main event of a Top Rank on ESPN card, Bradley, ESPN Boxing’s color commentator, went all-in on the PBC welterweights who some see as avoiding Crawford.
“The only real man over at PBC is Deontay Wilder,” Bradley exclaimed. “This man [Terence Crawford] is begging to fight you… All you welterweights, you guys need to put your big boy pants on and come over here and make this fight with Terence Crawford because he’s the best welterweight in the world.”
PBC fighter and also two-division former world champ Danny Garcia was asked about Bradley’s attack by media after the press conference to announce his January 25 bout with Ivan Redkach and didn’t hold back.
“I used to like Tim Bradley,” Garcia said. “I don’t respect him anymore, though. He ain’t nothing but a Top Rank puppet who fought Top Rank opponents his whole career. He never fought anyone outside of Top Rank. Since you’re so worried, come out of retirement…You’re a Top Rank fighter, fight Crawford. It’s an easy fight to be made.”
At the crux of this Terence Crawford/Top Rank-PBC beef is the business realities separating the two sides of the fence.
Crawford is signed to Top Rank, which has an exclusive output deal with ESPN.
Meanwhile, every other top welterweight at the moment—Errol Spence, Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia—works under the PBC banner, which has exclusive output deals with Fox and Showtime.
Across-the-fence deals have been made between rival business entities in the past, notably the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao blockbuster in 2015 and, currently, the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury rivalry, headed to a second meeting this coming February.
In boxing, where there is big money, there will often be a greater willingness to reach out and make deals with even the bitterest of rivals. Unfortunately, in the particular case of Crawford, that huge money isn’t there and PBC, having five of the six top welterweights in the world, can make a plethora of big fights “in house” without having to welcome the Omaha, Nebraska native into the mix.
Crawford promoter and Top Rank bossman Bob Arum has been aggressive in his calling out of PBC fighters. The aged Hall of Fame promoter has masterfully changed the public narrative from an acknowledgment that five of the six top 147-pounders in the world are, actually, fighting one another to the reality that his man has been left out of the loop.
Bradley, apparently, was very keen on picking up this partisan talking point and, in the heat of the moment while basking in the glow of an impressive Crawford win, pushed that company line to the extreme.
Backlash from fans and others in the boxing community was swift and harsh, pointing to various points of hypocrisy in Bradley’s statement, based on his own business dealings.
Trainer Kevin Cunningham offered some of the fiercest criticism for Bradley’s remarks, saying via Twitter:
“PBC has the marquee names in the division. The last time that I checked, they were all fighting one another. So this makes them less than men Timmy? TR did it for years and Bradley participated (Pac/Mar 4x, Pac/Bradley 3x, Pac/Mor 3x, Pac/Barr 2x) I guess different rules for Bob.
“Tim Bradley disrespects the entire PBC roster because Top Rank doesn’t have marquee names for Crawford. Somebody tell Bradley buck dancing for Bob won’t get the fights done. It’s a shame Bud’s caught up in that nonsense!”
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