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By Steve Kim Updated on January 17, 2022

Terence Crawford vs Top Rank

It turns out that for WBO welterweight champion, Terence Crawford, the marquee fight for him in 2022 isn't versus unified titlist, Errol Spence, but Bob Arum and Top Rank.

Last week the New York Post broke the news that Crawford was suing his former promoter. While the headlines screamed about Crawford claiming 'revolting racial bias' (hey, we're all in the click-bait business, here), and it's certainly eye-opening in nature. 

The truth of that matter isn't nearly as sensational in reality.

SNAC.com conferred with a boxing industry member and an attorney (who has years of experience in the business) about their thoughts on this lawsuit.

"The merits of this case are simple -- it's a contract case. Did Arum violate the terms of the contract? Does Arum have a valid excuse if he did?," was stated by this lawyer who read through all 23 pages of the complaint. 

One of the claims made by Crawford is that during the second year of the contract he inked in 2018, he was only given one fight (versus Kell Brook in November of 2020). This deal which ran for three years and had a minimum of $3.5 million per bout, was to see Crawford perform twice yearly. 

Mikey Williams and Top Rank

The attorney stated, "They make no mention of the fact that the second fight of the second year of the 2018 contract couldn't have been accomplished because of Covid, which Arum is going to claim under 'force majeure.'"

This sentiment is echoed by another source. 'Force majeure' in it's simplest terms is an act of God that prevents a contract from being executed. 

Here's a more detailed explanation of it: 

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/commercial-business/boilerplate-contracts/force-majeure-clauses-contracts-covid-19/ it: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/commercial-business/boilerplate-contracts/force-majeure-clauses-contracts-covid-19/

In 2020 as the world-wide pandemic hit, many world-class boxers were only able to fight once during that calendar year. "If only getting one fight that year was an issue, and they feel they were owed this fight, they could've easily brought this up to Top Rank and asked that this fight be done awhile ago, or just added onto the existing contract," pointed out the boxing insider. 

The other main issue being brought up in this suit is that Crawford's side claims that they agreed upon the December 2019 against Egidijus Kavaliauskas with the promise of a showdown with Spence to come. They claim that there was a 'Spence bonus' of $900,000 if a bout with him could not be secured by the end of 2020.

"I don't know under what circumstances that they have to pay that," our source admitted. "But if they promised to pay that if they couldn't make a Spence fight by a certain date, then they would have to pay it. That's the only thing in the whole complaint that is meritorious."

They added, "It forces Arum to do everything in his power to make the (Spence) fight."

One of the major hurdles in making Spence-Crawford is that Spence is represented by the rival PBC. Spence in recent years hadn't been shy in stating that his rival was ''on the wrong side of the street.' Which meant that while Spence had options at 147, Crawford was stuck with lesser fights, for which he was well compensated. 

Top Rank 

It's a shame that this relationship, which ended after Crawford's most recent victory over Shawn Porter -- which came with a $6 million guarantee -- on November 20, has come to this. At the post-fight press conference, Crawford made it very clear that he didn't feel the need to stick with a company that in his view had failed to deliver the fights he yearned for (namely, Spence).

But this had been percolating for awhile, prior to the bout with Brook in 2020, Crawford's side leaked out a story to Mike Coppinger (then at 'the Athletic') that detailed their displeasure with Top Rank. It was after that fight that Arum made a few of the negative comments (including, ''the question is, do we want to keep him? I could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I've lost on him in the last three fights. A beautiful home.") that were pointed out in the lawsuit as an example of Arum not working in the best interest of his client. 

(The best thing about Arum is that he'll blurt out anything. The worst thing about Arum is.... that he'll blurt out anything.)

The first few pages of the suit detail would they believe to be ''disparate treatment of Black boxers, including those very same black boxers that Top Rank is contractually obligated to promote." It goes into Arum's history of promoting in South Africa during the apartheid era, to various comments he's made about the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Al Haymon.

All of this may have nothing to do with the actual merits of this case.

Mikey Williams and Top Rank

But many other will point on Arum's political past where he served on the Kennedy administration, and began his career in boxing promoting the exiled Muhammad Ali, and then many other black boxers of distinction. Recently, his company has signed the likes of Keyshawn and Kelvin Davis, Troy Isley, Jahi Tucker, Tiger Johnson, Abdullah Mason, Bruce Carrington and Kari Goldston, among others, all of whom are black.

None of this may have anything to do with the actual merits of their defense.

The Crawford-Top Rank union last nearly a decade, and regardless of where it is now, it was a productive period. One that saw the native of Omaha become a three-division world champion and be considered one of the best boxers in the sport. If you take away the likes of Canelo Alvarez, and the top few heavyweights in the world, among the most well-paid athletes in the sport. Sources say he made over $30 million during his time under the Top Rank umbrella.

Some will say that still doesn't mean that Crawford wasn't the victim of bigotry and prejudice. They will ample opportunity to prove that in the upcoming months. 

Arum has had other fighters leave him(Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto), history suggests that more will come from their pipeline. You could argue that he could've done better with Crawford, been more diplomatic at certain points. 

But that does make Arum a racist?

The burden of proof is on Crawford to prove that it lead to Top Rank breaching their promotional agreement.

 

UNIFICATIONS

There was a lot of post-fight chatter about Joe Smith, who successfully defended his WBO light heavyweight crown by stopping late replacement Steve Geffrard in nine rounds on Saturday night, facing WBC/IBF champion, Artur Beterbiev in the spring.

 

Mikey Williams and Top Rank

This fight would work well at Madison Square Garden, and stylistically this figures to be an explosive fight. While Beterbiev would certainly be the significant favorite, Smith is no stranger to pulling upsets. Should this bout come to fruition, the winner certainly puts themselves in line for a shot at Canelo Alvarez down the line.

My old ESPN colleague, Dan Rafael tweeted on Sunday that a bout between WBC 130-pound belt holder, Shakur Stevenson, and WBO titlist, Shakur Stevenson, is in discussions for April 30 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Mikey Williams and Top Rank

This would certainly be an opportunity for Stevenson to really boost his profile (and he's been yearning for a crack at Valdez since almost the beginning of his career), while Valdez gets a shot at redemption after all that went on before his bout with Robson Conceicao, that centered around a failed VADA drug test, and a disputed decision that night in September.

 

FINAL FLURRIES

I don't know if Abraham Nova is ready for WBO featherweight champion, Emanuel Navarette, but really, who is ready for that whirlwind?....Can the Bills be any better than they were versus the Patriots?....Keith Idec of Boxingscene.com is reporting that the rematch between jr. middleweight champions, Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano (who fought to a draw last summer) will take place in mid-March in Los Angeles...Omar Rosario looks like a solid prospect....I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com...

 

About Author
Terence Crawford vs Top Rank
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for UCNlive.com.
  • Was a boxing reporter for ESPN.com from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.