Terence Crawford: Boxing’s Most Talented Nowhere Man

By Paul Magno on April 12, 2018
Terence Crawford: Boxing’s Most Talented Nowhere Man
He is no worse than No. 3 on any sane, logical list of the sport’s best fighters. (Jim Krantz)

Crawford’s promoter (and I use that term very loosely), Bob Arum, seems to have officially stopped caring about getting him real exposure…

Terence Crawford is the all-around best fighter in the world today. And even if you insist on being wrong about judging boxing talent, Crawford is no worse than no. 3 on any sane, logical list of the sport’s best fighters.

In a perfect world, the uniquely skilled boxer-puncher from Omaha, Nebraska would be a mainstream star. In this imperfect world, he should at least be a high-drawing boxing star, capable of selling PPVs and generating seven-figure TV ratings.

This is not the case, however. As a matter of fact, his promoter (and I use that term very loosely), Bob Arum, seems to have officially stopped caring about getting him real exposure.

The decision to put Crawford’s welterweight debut June 9 against WBO titlist Jeff Horn on ESPN’s new streaming app and not on the main ESPN platform is blatant disrespect and a virtual crotch shot to Crawford and his career earning potential.

Yes, Crawford is bound by the decision he made to allow Arum to promote him. And, yes, promotional stablemate Manny Pacquiao’s flat-out refusal to even acknowledge his existence is a big reason Crawford has not been able to springboard to next-level fame and fortune.

But one would think that Arum and his team at Top Rank would’ve had some sort of back-up plan for the very real possibility that Pacquiao might not willingly want to pass the torch to someone who could potentially mop the canvas with him. They also could be less stubborn about their usual fixation on keeping fights and fighters “in house.” Crawford could be earning big money fighting the likes of Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and eventually Errol Spence and Keith Thurman—and he has a solid chance of beating them all. He would certainly be more of an earner and asset to the company fighting “out of house” than by taking on a paper champion for a small audience on a new subscription-based streaming service.

The promise of mainstream exposure energized the boxing world when it was first announced that Arum would be pulling his talent away from the premium cable HBO paywall system and over to basic cable ESPN. Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions project, for various odd and ugly reasons, had been slammed mercilessly for an even bolder push to the mainstream, but the Arum deal was almost universally well-received. Finally, guys like Crawford and Lomachenko would be getting some attention outside of the niche boxing market—or so the boxing world assumed.

That push has been there for Lomachenko, who’s growing fame is being leveraged into a big May 12 bout with Jorge Linares. Meanwhile, Crawford, who delivered solid ratings in his debut ESPN showcase against Julius Indongo in a four-belt junior welterweight unification last August, is getting pushed to smaller waters.

And even if Crawford beats Horn to the delight of a few thousand (maybe a few hundred) hardcore fans, where does he go from there? There’s nobody lined up for him, no real competition within the Top Rank family, and his marketability will be diminished from having performed on a fringe streaming service after nearly 10 months of inactivity.

In general, this is not a good time to be an American boxer. American fight fans are just not embracing their own. One could understand the fan indifference when guys like Andre Berto and Devon Alexander were “names” who failed to deliver on big promise. Even skilled fighters like Bernard Hopkins and Andre Ward were dismissible as acquired tastes. But the US scene right now is packed with fan-friendly fighters, who do, indeed, put on the type of aggression-based fights fans claim to crave. And a guy like Crawford—who is supremely skilled but is also offense-minded and a fierce finisher—would seem to be precisely the type of fighter Americans love.

An overall stagnant domestic fan base has put Crawford in a bad spot and the jaded, fickle fans seem stuck on investing their time and money on simpler, more exotic brutes. And it sure doesn’t help that those entrusted with promoting Crawford seem to have stopped trying to actually promote him.

At 30 years of age and with the window slowly closing on his physical prime, Terence Crawford has to step up and figure out a way to take full control of his career. Those who are currently in charge of his career path are taking him down the road to nowhere.

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  1. Paul Magno 10:53pm, 04/13/2018

    @Fe…It’s laughable that you call any of this “promotion.” Stick a kid in his hometown to a packed auditorium full of friends, family, and hangers-on…get him on HBO for a network-guaranteed purse so he can fight for the same 700-900K that watch every fight no matter what…send out some press releases to media…please… that’s not promotion…I don’t think there’s a single real promoter in all of boxing anymore…Crawford getting 950K viewers on a platform that has a potential audience of 100 million is NOT impressive…Showtime only has 24 million subscribers and delivers a larger share of its audience to its boxing content…Crawford basically got the audience on ESPN what he got on HBO…meaning, the same fans who watch all of the boxing on HBO just switched over to ESPN…not one single new fan…again…that ain’t promotion…and going from 950K on ESPN to a few hundred fans on a new streaming app? Absurd…How, exactly, is he going to be this big breakout star fighting where nobody can see him? If Arum could’ve made him a big star, he would’ve done so already…Arum needs to farm him out and put him where people will actually see him do something worthwhile…Arum will pull the trigger on cross-promotional fights when he knows he has the goods and stands a better than good chance of his guy winning…but Crawford fights with Spence, Thurman, etc. only happen if he brings something to the table, more money than can be had be fighting one another…and diminishing his star with 10 months of nothing followed by a welterweight debut to crickets on ESPN+ is not building marketability, no matter how much you’d like for it to be so…this is major disrespect and it’s a waste of a very valuable year in the prime of Crawford’s career…

  2. Fe'Roz 10:47pm, 04/13/2018

    “ut…what, exactly, do PBC and Al Haymon have to do with Crawford being buried on a new streaming app.

    Uh. Nothing. Because they don’t have a clue how to promote in a shifting landscape. When the only name you hear between NBA games 4 and 5 is Terence Crawford in anticipation of his fight…..you’ll learn..

    In the meantime, Steve Kim is a great guy but I can give him info days before he goes to print. I don’t read it

  3. Paul Magno 09:57pm, 04/13/2018

    @Fe…I know you’re an angry troll and the first rule of adult internet discourse is to not feed the trolls…But…what, exactly, do PBC and Al Haymon have to do with Crawford being buried on a new streaming app? The only road to real stardom and a real legacy befitting his talents is via fighting the very best in the welterweight division with the highest profiles…and I don’t care if they are with Haymon, King, Hearn, or whoever…I want Crawford to get those fights and become this generation’s Sugar Ray Leonard…That doesn’t mean he has to leave Top Rank…but you know as well as I do that, without some pressure applied, Arum will always look inward when it comes to matchmaking, just like everyone else in the business…and if you’re buying a Steve Kim load of propaganda about Haymon never reaching across the aisle to other entities when it comes to their A-side talent…the same damn thing can be said for Arum…So, why not put some pressure on Arum, who will have Crawford all alone at 147 when Bud beats Horn, to be the one who approaches the entity where the other big names all reside? Why the resistance to putting Crawford where the big fights are? Or are you arguing that the forever hopeless chase of a Pacquiao fight, a return bout with Jeff Horn, or a squash of Mike Alvarado are all worthy of Crawford’s physical prime? The only one with an agenda here is you…I just want to see Crawford become the star he should be…Period…PBC and Haymon are in this discussion only because you put them there…Taking Crawford to that next level involves fighting Spence, Thurman, and guys like Garcia and Porter…and because Crawford is Arum’s fighter, it falls on Arum to move his guy where the biggest, best fights are…this move to the streaming app kills any momentum Crawford may have had coming in…he may as well not be fighting at all….one fight since August of last year, 10 months off…and then straight to a new streaming app where viewership may be in the triple digits….that is pure disrespect…forget PBC and Haymon…if you can’t see that, you are as dumb as you appear to be…

  4. Paul Magno 03:30pm, 04/13/2018

    @Fe….Typically, when someone takes a shot at me, personally, in the first line of a comment, I just stop reading…because those people aren’t serious about having a discussion, they’re just burning because they have an agenda…and your agenda seems to come straight from Top Rank talking points….I never once mentioned PBC or Haymon, except in a passing comment about their own efforts to go “mainstream”...The fact that you are so clearly fixated on them is proof positive that you are the one with a deep, deep bias…What Haymon does or doesn’t do with his guys has no effect on Crawford’s plight…All of your “points” are just wrong, too…or, at least, heavily spun to favor your agenda and the agenda of whoever you choose to get your info from…I can easily refute just about every single one, but that would be pointless, right? Because your raging bias makes any attempt at having a logical discussion just a waste of time…Forget your obsession with Haymon for a second…if you think sticking the world’s best fighter, in maybe the biggest fight of his career, on a new streaming app for an audience of hundreds is good promotion, you are out of your fucking mind…if you think sticking him on a PPV for the second biggest fight of his career, to tank miserably at 50K buys is good promotion, then you are either extremely stupid or deeply brainwashed…maybe both…

  5. The Beast of Bodmin 01:25pm, 04/12/2018

    For what it’s worth I think Magno is spot on. If Crawford was British he would be fighting in full stadiums regardless of his colour. FFS, even Ricky Burns can get 20,000 bums on seats. Compare the skill level and achievements of Crawford and Ricky Hatton with their respective fan bases. Case closed.
    I know Hatton was especially popular in the UK, but he dragged more people across the Atlantic to his weigh-in with Mayweather than could be bothered to watch last week’s unification fight between Lara and Hurd. Boxing is a niche sport in America at the moment.

  6. nicolas 10:54am, 04/12/2018

    Mr. Magno states that this is not a good time to be an American boxer. He points out that Lomachencho is being pushed far more. It is not that this is a better time to be a foreign fighter, and not an American one. the problem is that in the USA there are no white boxing stars from the USA. The last one really was Kelly Pavlik. I am sure that if Crawford were a white guy, and even perhaps Hispanic, he would get more push. People always criticized Mayweather and Broner for there antics, but the sad truth is that put butts in the seats. Did not the white Eastern European fighters use to go to Germany? but now they come to the USA. Think about this. South Africa has more white boxing stars than the USA, and so does Northern Ireland. As it is though, Mr. Crawford is getting a title shot.

  7. jim 05:58am, 04/12/2018

    Paul Magno is a hater. Can we please get a real non biased sport writer?

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