“Just when I thought I was out… They pull me back in.”
–Michael Corleone, from ‘The Godfather III’
I thought I was done. It’s just that the truth has a way of making an offer you can’t refuse.
“Why should I fight Terence Crawford?” Asked unbeaten IBF welterweight champion and pound-for-pound nominee Errol Spence Jr via Facebook post recently. “Who has he fought? I’ve fought bigger opponents. #ManDown.”
In so many ways, he was actually talking to The Bobfather, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, in the immediate aftermath of WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford exposing Amir Khan as a mere con via 6th round loco low blow. I was present at the post fight presser Spence hijacked to go in on Crawford last September following “Showtime” Shawn Porter Vs Danny “Swift” Garcia, where Porter edged Garcia to claim the WBC strap vacated by Thurman due to injury.
Here’s where things get dicey.
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“I am the best fighter in the world, hands down. ESPN is the biggest brand in sports and Top Rank is the biggest promotional company in boxing,” Crawford said, back in September 2018 after signing a new multi-year extension of unknown lucrative worth. “This was a no-brainer for me and my team. All of the superfights that the world wants to see will happen. Mark my words. Like I’ve said before, I want all of the champions in the welterweight division.”
Adding to this, in September 2018, was Bud trainer (and mean ass chef) Brian “Bo-Mac” McIntyre. Here’s how he weighed in.
“The deal that I helped put together with Top Rank and ESPN is unprecedented in the modern boxing landscape,” said Brian “Bo-Mack” McIntyre, Crawford’s long-time trainer who also serves as his boxing manager. “If you think you’ve seen the best of Terence Crawford, you ain’t seen nothing yet. To all the pretenders out there who want a piece of him, you’ll get what is coming. With Top Rank and ESPN in our corner, we are going to make some of the biggest fights in the history of boxing.”
And then there was this…
“We will continue to show the world that Terence “Bud” Crawford is one of the greatest fighters to ever lace up a pair of gloves.”
Keep in mind that all of this was said right around the same time a spirited Errol Spence Jr made his way to the post fight podium after Shawn Porter edged Danny “Swift” Garcia on September 8 response. Spence minimized Crawford’s upcoming opponent at that time, Top Rank’s former all-world blue chip sensation Jose Benavidez (damaged by a horrible shot to the leg), telling the media that he “punished” Benavidez in serious gym war, before famously referring to Bob Arum as an untrustworthy man of “Smoke and Mirrors.”
In November 2018, Spence seized an opportunity to confront both Arum and Crawford at the Chesapeake Bay Arena in Oklahoma City, OK, after watching Maurice Hooker defend his WBO super lightweight crown over Alex Saucedo. This was very much a Top Rank affair, so please understand– Spence did not have to be there. In front of independent media cameras, Spence asked Arum to clarify comments he made suggesting that Al Haymon doesn’t even exist; while asking him just what [he thought he’d do] to his former star turned bitter rival Mikey Garcia. Arum downplayed an insinuation that Sam Watson was closer to a phantom Al Haymon, while truthfully declaring he thought Spence would beat Garcia pretty badly.
The entire saga is significant for this reason: Whoever Al Haymon is, he gave Mikey Garcia what he wanted; and had no problem putting his best fighter in front of Bob Arum and one of his best fighters in Crawford, [on their turf], while knowing full good and well that Arum would NEVER risk putting Vasily Lomachenko in the same ring as Terence Crawford. To wit, was it worth the risk to possibly finish Mikey Garcia at the elite level beyond challenging him beyond physical limitation? Anyone in his right mind would opine that Arum didn’t care for Loma if he allowed war with Terence Crawford beyond 135. Just because Spence Vs Garcia happened doesn’t change that it didn’t make sense, or would justify a reason for The Bobfather to act in kind. It wouldn’t.
If anything, my own personal takeaway, was that Haymon was proving to be a better promoter than the great Bob Arum without saying anything at all– or even being there. I mean, shit happens. Edwin Moses ran long enough to see someone pass him in a way the world could not deny. Given the way the world works, it may have really been a story in black neighborhoods if that someone was white.
Almost three weeks ago, ESPN, the same network that produced Crawford Vs Khan on PPV, was saying in it’s airing of Lomachenko Vs Crolla that Loma was “the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.” It just so happens, that this same network was calling Bud “the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world” a little over a week ago. Which one is it? There would be less confusion if Loma Vs Bud were to happen, just as Spence Vs Garcia did happen. Is Al Haymon to blame for what won’t be in this instance? Conversely, is Bob Arum to be considered lame for better protecting his two most prized possessions while having them both in a debate for world #1?
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To validate Spence’s point on Facebook, let’s answer his question with two of them: Does anyone believe WBA welterweight champions Keith “One-Time” Thurman or Filipino icon Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao would not have similarly exposed a Khan artist?
And how do we know if Bud is indeed the best smoke in the world if he does not roll up on “The Truth”?
Released figures from his abominable abolition (let’s hope) of Amir Khan puts his debut ESPN+ PPV numbers pulled in at around the 150K mark. In comparison, Spence Jr debuted on the plus side of 350K Vs Mikey Garcia.
Despite being connected in marketing to Avengers: Endgame, that’s indicative of bad promotion, a missing personality cult in Crawford, or, more ominously… both.
What Arum may not want to do, has nothing to do with what he may need to do, which is concede a B position from a promotional vantage point to extend Crawford’s profile in the eyes of the public. Somewhere in the ballpark of 150K in PPV buys from Madison Square Garden means that has to happen. Bud absolutely needs to make a smoked blunt out of someone like a never-before-stopped Danny Garcia (and it says here he would) in order for Bud Vs The Truth to make sense if we’re being honest.
But since Arum was not able to come to terms weeks ago with DSG (a PBC fighter Haymon allowed Top Rank to negotiate with prior to his destruction of Adrian Granados on the same April 20 night as Crawford Vs Khan), that means Crawford, at nearly age 32 without the options of Lomachenko, is no where close to being in the position to give us “all of the superfights the world wants to see.”
That next move for Crawford Vs Garcia would’ve been a no-brainer, as a WBO welterweight title fight between the last two dominant former super lightweights is fight fan gold. But Arum blew it, while trying to shift focus and paint a dark picture of non-compliance in front of a paltry international PPV audience (despite his best promotional effort and an expectation of 400,000 PPV buys for Crawford Vs Khan) that Haymon was the culprit in denying any fights to take place between Top Rank and PBC fighters.
He left his PPV telecast audience with a finger pointing rant against a promoter not inclined to engage a white owned media – which can destroy anyone of any color – while choosing to skip the post fight press conference altogether. Crawford (standoffish in media settings, belying the good man he is) stood by Arum’s remarks unsurprisingly; even as trainer Bo-Mac incessantly pleaded with Spence (set to go ultra Sonny Liston on a Leon Spinks edition of Shawn Porter, tentatively set for July) to ‘make the fight’.
With the bitter taste of never knowing what a prime-for-prime match-up between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao looks like, I’m now inclined to believe Floyd, and that the debacle of May 2, 2015 goes far beyond “Money”. Disenchanted, I left Madison Square Garden as disgusted on April 20 as Howard Cosell during his last call for Larry Holmes Vs Randall “Tex” Cobb. Having already blown our welterweight Ali Vs Frazier, I left feeling Arum was ready to blow this generation’s Sugar Ray Leonard Vs Thomas Hearns I, and wanted everyone to blame “the black guy”.
Look I don’t know if Julian Assange is a fight fan, or if Malcolm X was peeking out of a curtain somewhere believing by any means necessary the public needs to call out Bob Arum for audacity; but it doesn’t take WikiLeaks or, a Final Call with a bean pie from Louis Farrakhan to know what Arum may or may not have been guilty of. It’s subjective. What’s not, is a retro late 1960’s climate we’re in, one that now involves still having to sell a fight to a generation that doesn’t give a damn about any of those things, or any of those people for that matter. Where some see a race card, others see a drama card, and I need a Dramamine pill or two to regain equilibrium.
Anyway, they say where there’s smoke there’s 🔥… But now I know to look for mirrors.