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By Steve Kim Updated on December 13, 2021

The Past, Present and Future of Top Rank on Display

On a night at the Madison Square Garden where a grand celebration was held for Bob Arum's 90th birthday, Vasiliy Lomachenko showed he is still very much a formidable force in the lightweight division. Present was WBO welterweight titlist, Terence Crawford, who recently stated his intention to leave Top Rank after a long run with the company. 

But what really stood out was the trio of Xander Zayas, Keyshawn Davis, and Jared Anderson.

They are the key components of Top Rank's future.

There is no promotional firm that is as adept at nurturing and developing young talent into world champions, and attractions. Top Rank -- who basically signed the whole 2020 U.S. Olympic boxing squad -- has brought in more blue-chippers than Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide on national signing day. 

Crawford, who just recently defeated Shawn Porter several weeks ago, looks like he will be the latest marquee boxer that will leave them, as he looks to consummate the long-awaited showdown with Errol Spence on 'the right side of the street'. He will follow in the footsteps of Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao, among others who moved on from them.

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

During their time together, Crawford won a belt at lightweight, became the undisputed king at junior welterweight, and captured a welterweight title. During this stretch he also became a legitimate regional draw in his hometown of Omaha, and was considered among the elite boxers in the sport

However, what was elusive was pay-per-view success, and Crawford was a victim of the current boxing business that many times made fights based more on promotional affiliation than public demand. 

Regardless, because his last deal came during the 2018 gold rush that distorted the market (as entities like DAZN came into the picture), Crawford signed a highly lucrative pact with Top Rank -- which at the time was entering into an exclusive output deal with ESPN -- that put him among the top earners in the sport, as he had a contracted minimum in the $3.5 million range.

But the often prickly Crawford made it clear after the bout with Porter, that if Arum couldn't deliver the fights he yearned for (namely, Spence), there would be no need to continue on with this union. 

Crawford is ready to move on with his career. Top Rank is ready to pour their resources into other boxers. 

The one thing Top Rank has shown is the ability to reload and move forward. Nobody has the ability to consistently bring up fledgling fighters from the very beginning of their careers into boxers that maximize their ability. 

Fighters come, fighters go, but there's a reason why Arum has lasted over 50 years in this racket. He has also said that there is a particular joy in seeing a young fighter develop in front of his eyes under the direction of his highly regarded matchmakers, Bruce Trampler, and Brad Goodman.

While it was Nico Walsh Ali -- who if you haven't heard is the grandson of Muhammad Ali -- who lead off the ESPN broadcast, he is really just a marketing tool designed to grab a few headlines for the event. Which is another Top Rank tradition following in the footsteps of Butterbean and Mia St. John.  As noted by ESPN's Tim Bradley, his upside is very limited.

But it's hard not to be excited by the what took place surrounding that bout.

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

 

Zayas, who was the youngest boxer ever signed by the company a few years ago, improved to 12-0(9 KOs) by halting the overmatched, Alessio Mastronunzio, on the ESPN+ portion of the bill. Quite frankly, this was a mismatch from the opening bell, Mastronunzio, looked overwhelmed by the surroundings, and soon was getting shelled by the young Puerto Rican puncher.

This bout didn't last one round and there really wasn't much that could be gleaned from this performance. But the 19-year old Zayas, who has an uncommon maturity and focus for his age just has that 'look' of a future star. Listed at 5'10, there is a chance that one day he'll be hovering around six feet, and will quickly grow into a middleweight and beyond. Top Rank has made it clear that they will not rush him under any circumstance. 

Davis, who captured a silver medal at the recent Olympics in Japan, actually came into this bout with three previous pro outings. For a few years, the highly touted Davis was seen as America's best pure amateur talent. He has all the requisite physical capabilities and technical acumen, and an entertaining style, wrapped around a personable manner. 

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

The native of Norfolk, Virginia (best known for producing the great Pernell Whitaker) played to rave reviews in his Top Rank debut by stopping Jose Zaragoza in two rounds. It's said that Davis, who is 22 years old, wants to be put on the fast track. Top Rank plans to showcase him early and often in the upcoming year.

Then before the nights main event, it was 'Big Baby' Anderson (11-0, 11 KOs) getting the assignment against veteran, Oleksandr Teslenko. Anderson is a rarity -- an American heavyweight that really didn't play any other sports growing up. Boxing wasn't a last chance for him, it was his first priority. And he's a multi-dimensional fighter who can switch hit and has legitimate power in both hands.

That was on display as he knocked out Teslenko in the second round with booming right hand.

Jared Anderson Highlight Reel KO of Teslenko, Proving He is Americans Best Young Heavyweight

At 6'4, 240, some might be concerned if he's big enough for this generation of power forward-sized big men. On the other hand,  you could argue that the charismatic Anderson possesses better dexterity and athleticism at his frame than his lumbering counterparts. Size only matter so much. The ability to fight is paramount. Keep this in mind, he's still just 22 years old.

 

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

In addition to these three, there are the likes of Davis' Olympic teammates, Troy Isley and Duke Ragan, along with Raymond Muratalla, Karlos Balderas, Paddy Donovan, Lindolfo Delgado, who will be brought along and given their chance to make their mark. They will be followed by Abdullah Mason and Bruce Carrington. 

Odds are that not all of them will make it. But the track record says that enough will for Top Rank to move forward, as other stars leave. 

 

FINAL FLURRIES

Conor Benn is a rapidly improving welterweight, as he showed by blowing out Chris Algieri in four rounds...WBA light heavyweight titlist, Dmitry Bivol, seems to leave a lot of meat on the bone every fight...How about that late career renaissance of Nonito Donaire?....I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com....

 

 

 

 

About Author
The Past, Present and Future of Top Rank on Display
  • 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.