Arum: Crawford-Pacquiao was close, still on table


Leave it to the pandemic to stop one of the biggest fights in boxing.

A potential welterweight unification bout between Terence “Bud” Crawford and Manny Pacquiao was nixed because of COVID-19 restrictions, Crawford said early Sunday morning after he retained his WBO welterweight belt with a fourth-round stoppage over Kell Brook.

During an interview at the MGM Grand Convention Center, Crawford told reporters the fight was scrapped over restrictions for in-person attendance.

“We had the venue,” Crawford said. “The money was almost there. It wasn’t quite there. That was the only thing that we were waiting on. But that’s what messed up the fight, was the fans.”

Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) easily toppled Brook (39-3, 27 KOs) to further confirm his status as ESPN’s top pound-for-pound fighter, setting up a fight down the road against a current champion.

But if things had worked between Crawford and Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), Crawford might have had a different opponent for this weekend.

Top Rank Promotions chairman Bob Arum said he was in talks with an unspecified country in the Middle East regarding a Crawford-Pacquiao fight that was tentatively scheduled to take place this weekend.

“The minister of health in that country said, ‘You can’t do it because I can’t guarantee that we’ll allow spectators,'” Arum said on the ESPN telecast.

Discussions about the fight centered on Qatar as the location, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN.

The potential bout also represents a potential thawing in the cold war between Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions and Al Haymon, who manages most of the top welterweights in the business, including IBF champion Errol Spence Jr.

Crawford and Spence are both widely considered to be the top 147-pounders in the sport. Arum said he believes Spence, who will fight Danny Garcia in December, is ducking a showdown against Crawford.

“Errol Spence will try to avoid Terence Crawford as long as he can because he knows he can’t beat Terence Crawford,” Arum told ESPN.

However, even though that potential megafight has been discussed for years, it appears Pacquiao will be Crawford’s next target. According to Arum, that bout is still on the table. The Top Rank CEO said overseas officials were willing to resume talks about a spring 2021 fight if Crawford beat Brook this weekend.

With that result in the books, Crawford is ready to secure a fixture with the legendary champion.

“Now we’re going to go back to the drawing board and revisit that fight with Manny Pacquiao,” Crawford said.

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