There seems to be new momentum behind a possible fight between Omaha native Terence “Bud” Crawford and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
In a recent interview with Boxing Scene, Crawford’s promoter, Bob Arum, said he’s had “tentative talks” about staging the mega-fight. He said he “had feelers out” to get the fight scheduled for late summer or in the fall, but the coronavirus pandemic complicated the issue.
Arum, the 88-year-old CEO of Top Rank, remains optimistic the talks can continue and said there seems to be mutual interest between Crawford and Pacquiao.
“The world is different from what it was the end of January, mid-February, and we’ll have to see what it looks like when we get through this,” Arum told Boxing Scene. “It would be great, particularly if the economics for that fight work, which would’ve happened absent this coronavirus situation.”
Arum said the fight wouldn’t be able to take place in the United States — past reports have alleged Pacquiao owes millions in tax dollars to the IRS — or in Pacquiao’s home nation of the Philippines. That means another country would have to host it, and likely with no fans in attendance or limited capacity to maintain social distancing measures.
“And we’d have to make it work with a big site fee,” Arum said.
Pacquiao has long been a dream opponent for Crawford, though a fight never materialized as Crawford moved up the world rankings and Pacquiao slipped from his status atop the sport. But Crawford’s entry to the welterweight division and a resurgence in Pacquiao’s career have reignited speculation that the two fighters could still meet in the ring.
Crawford has fought four times since moving up to welterweight, winning all via technical knockout. He last fought in December, defeating Egidijus Kavaliauskas in nine rounds at Madison Square Garden, and currently holds the WBO welterweight title.
Pacquiao also was once represented by Arum but dropped the promoter after a surprise loss to Jeff Horn in July 2017. Pacquiao returned to the ring a year later and has won his last three fights, most recently a split decision against Keith Thurman in July 2019 that gave Pacquiao the WBA welterweight title.
Arum had said in the past he nixed possible fights between Crawford and Pacquiao because he was certain the rising star from Omaha would win convincingly. Arum told Boxing Scene that he still believes Crawford would defeat Pacquiao, but noted the 41-year-old Filipino “seems dedicated again” and would compete “with a good chance.”
“There’s no question that it’ll be an entertaining fight,” Arum said. “... I’ve had that situation before, where guys get to be a little older, but somehow their skills aren’t diminished.”
But just because Arum has begun conducting negotiations, that doesn’t mean this fight will materialize.
In January, Arum floated the possibility of Crawford fighting UFC star Conor McGregor in a boxing/mixed martial arts combo event, but it doesn’t seem that has come together. And Top Rank has struggled to pair up Crawford with other top boxers in his weight class — like Errol Spence Jr. or Shawn Porter — because they’re represented by different promoters.
But perhaps now, in a sports world desperate for action in a global pandemic, the time is right for Crawford and Pacquiao to finally square off.