$50M Pacquiao-Crawford ME Fight Another Proverbial Pie in the Sky?
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Sun, 28 Feb 2021
There are encouraging signs that a lucrative fight involving Manny Pacquiao and Terrence Crawford in the Middle East, possibly in petrodollar rich Dubai or Saudi Arabia, could be worked out by Bob Arum with the financial backing of some wealthy Arab royalties or businessmen.
Recently, it was reported that the WBO super-featherweight title fight between Jamel Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) and Carl Frampton (28-2, 16 KOs) will now take place at The Rotunda at Caesars, Bluewaters, Dubai on April 3.
Dubbed as “Legacy,” the D4G Promotions event sees Herring make the third defense of his world title. Frampton is attempting to become Ireland’s first and only three-weight world champion.
Reigning champion Herring thanked Top Rank, his manager Brian McIntyre and MTK for working behind the scenes to keep things on track "because it definitely wasn’t easy putting up this event together."
Significantly, the said promotion will also see the ring return of former multi-weight world champion Donnie Nietes and his erstwhile ALA buddy and now MTK Global and D4G mate Albert Pagara who are going up against separate opponents.
If Arum's Top Rank could work with MTK and D4G to organize such an event in Dubai featuring comparatively lesser lights, certainly the more it could in concert or purely on its own put up an even bigger gig involving two of the biggest names in boxing in Pacquiao and Crawford in the Middle East.
The current ongoing global vaccine rollout to combat and hopefully eradicate Covid-19 and the anticipated easing up on the pandemic restrictions are also seen as developments that would help facilitate pro boxing getting back to the groove.
Though the return to live spectator arena big time boxing may still be a cherished dream and aspiration in the US, UK and most other traditional boxing hubs, it could be possible in very rich, willing and able hosts as Dubai and Saudi Arabia where modern facilities, ready financiers and avid audience are available.
For years, Amir Khan who traced his roots in Pakistan and was known in the region, had tried but failed to lure Pacquiao, then still with Arum and Top Rank to a lucrative fight there.
Though he was a famous, quite accomplished fighter, he also had an unflattering credentials marked by brutal knockout losses, enough reason for Arum and Pacquiao to perhaps say, thanks but no thanks. Crawford brutally stopping Khan a couple of years back effectively killed any of his hopes of getting Pacquiao to a Middle East fight.
Then before the pandemic, Saudi Arabia made headlines by hosting the successful world heavyweight title rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz, won by the British former Olympic champion regaining not only his titles but his standing as an elite fighter.
That proved Saudi Arabia, to say the Middle East, is a viable prime site for big time boxing promotion. Organizers just have to have the proper pair of fighters on tap who have the names and credentials to prompt sponsors and financiers to pay the site fees and share in the purse and the local as well as foreign boxing fans to watch the fights live onsite or via pay per view or paid internet streaming.
Arum himself recognized this when he, without much publicity, explored and reportedly made headways in securing financial and sponsorship support for the staging of a fight between his prime ward Crawford, ironically the man who snuffed out Khan's dream, and Pacquiao in "a Middle East country."
Arum was reportedly finalizing the details including getting Pacquiao signature on the dotted line for a June 2020 fight in the Middle East when the pandemic struck in March.
Now Arum has recently been reported as pursuing again his Middle East initiative and has made a commitment to make an announcement ASAP in response to Pacquiao's very public challenge of Crawford for a fight based on a $40 million-$10 million split in purse in his favor.
The Top Rank involvement in putting up the oft-reset Herring-Frampton fight in Dubai could be an encouraging sign that Arum is serious and determined in making the Pacquiao-Crawford match in the same area or in a viable, suitable host in the region.
The Middle East hosts millions of Filipino overseas workers and other foreign expats who with the locals, could constitute the bulk of the live paying audience.
The Pacquiao-Crawford fight which to many will virtually determine the true, undisputed welterweight champion, is also a sure fire pay per view attraction in the US, Europe, Asia and many parts of the globe.
Arum was quoted as saying that with the split Pacquiao wanted, he still stands to earn more with Crawford fighting Pacquiao than Terrence fighting Errol Spence. Spence has declined a fight with either and is more interested in a three title unification with WBA ordained super champion Yurdenis Ugas.
It could be Arum's last chance to cash in finally on Crawford whom he has vainly tried to develop and project as cash cow superstar since his acrimonious split up with Pacquiao in 2017.
However, some observers have noted some inconsistencies in Arum on how he has lately seemed to scrimp on his other top wards as Naoya Inoue and very recently, Teofimo Lopez.
Top Rank lost in purse bidding to hold Lopez's first universal title defense to a newcomer, Triller, even getting outbid by Eddie Hearns. Arum also virtually squelched Inoue's grand US championship re-introduction last time by pitting him against Australian contender Jason Moloney instead of WBO titlist Johnriel Casimero in a triple title unification.
But perhaps Arum is just putting his eggs on one basket where he sees greater income and profit for himself and Top Rank.
And that is obviously a Crawford-Pacquiao grand matchup in the Middle East.
Let us hope it is so.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
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