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Manny Pacquiao vs Terence Crawford: Why it's risky business for Top Rank

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Top Rank promoter Bob Arum insists Terence Crawford is the best fighter of his generation.

In addition, Arum has hinted a showdown with Manny Pacquiao is likely for November should both fighters prevail in their respective upcoming bouts. And, of course, Manny and Terence fight under the Top Rank banner so its fighter will win regardless who is victorious.

The big question is: Would the promotional entity win long-term should they pair its two top fighters this fall?

Top Rank has contributed much to boxing through the years, but the bottomline is the bottomline... It's a profit-driven business.

Promotional companies need big name fighters and high-profile fight cards as much as TV networks need solid ratings.

Enter Manny Pacquiao.

A national senator who will turn 39 in December, PacMan, Top Rank's cash cow for so long, is likely nearing the end of his career. Thus, the promotional entity would probably like nothing more than for him to 'pass the torch' to Terence Crawford, just as Oscar De La Hoya passed the torch to Manny.

To be THE Man you don't always have to beat THE Man, but it certainly helps in boxing...

When a surging young lion defeats a great old king, the former usually becomes an immediate star, or an athlete of great interest at the very least.

Rocky Marciano's stock surged when he knocked out an aging Joe Louis... Larry Holmes became a mainstream athlete when he defeated a shopworn Muhammad Ali. And, of course, Manny Pacquiao became an international rock star after toppling a faded, weight-drained Oscar De La Hoya.

No wonder Top Rank is clamoring Pacquiao vs Crawford.

They want to keep that torch in-house, firmly believing Terence can become a mainstream star.

Several Problems

Manny wins
Don't expect Manny to cooperate and follow through on Top Rank's presumed wishes. Unlike the aforementioned greats (Ali, De La Hoya and Louis), Manny Pacquiao isn't exactly fighting like a 38-year-old welterweight. In fact, a case can be made for him being boxing's best, pound for pound.

Let's look at Manny Pacquiao's last 6 opponents...

Won UD 12 Jessie Vargas (then 27-1 0)
Won UD 12 Timothy Bradley Jr (then 33-1-1)
Loss UD 12 Floyd Mayweather Jr (then 47-0-0)
Won UD 12 Chris Algieri (then 20-0-0)
Won UD 12 Timothy Bradley Jr (then 31-0)
Won UD 12 Brandon Rios (then 31-1)

None of Manny's last six foes had more than one loss at the time nor were any of those wins the least bit controversial. Floyd was the No.1 fighter at the time and Bradley, who Manny convincingly defeated in April 2016, was a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter heading into the bout.

Can the last six opponents of Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Anthony Joshua match Manny's?


A Pacquiao win over Crawford, even if by knockout, wouldn't be surprising. Should Manny soundly defeat Terence and subsequently retire, Top Rank's presumed plan will have backfired.

Terence wins
Terence Crawford is a great fighter and undoubtedly one of the best in boxing. However, does he possess the box office appeal of a Pacquiao or a Mayweather or De La Hoya?

Some fighters, like Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano and even Canelo Alvarez, have natural star power. Would a victory over Pacquiao thrust Crawford into mainstream stardom?

Pacquiao vs Horn News
Date: July 2, 2017
Venue: Suncorp Stadium 
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Division: Welterweight
Title: WBO
Champion: Manny Pacquiao

At this moment, he doesn't seem to have that special "it" factor to captivate the masses. Perhaps it's there, and we have yet to see it?

Should Crawford send Manny into retirement and not become a major attraction, Top Rank will have 'shot itself in the foot' by replacing a strong draw with 3 or 4 more fights left with a mediocre attraction the public who doesn't appeal to casual fans.

Terrence wins / The welterweight factor
Also, should Crawford defeat Manny Pacquiao this fall, how would the former, a jr welterweight, fair in the welterweight division aginst the likes of Keith Thurman, Kell Brook, Danny Garcia, Errol Spence and Amir Khan?

Keep in mind, Crawford was a lightweight not long ago. At 5′8,″ he's not used to facing opponents who are rangier than himself.

Even if Terence were to generate mainstream buzz by defeating Pacquiao, could he subsequently hang with the monsters of the welterweight division and become the proverbial 'top dog?'

Playing it safe and conservative
Top Rank has the option of playing it safe for Manny's next two or three bouts. They could generate handsome (but not outstanding) revenue sums by pitting him against the likes of fighters such as Bradley Skeete and Sam Eggington. And perhaps afterwards, Top Rank could have Manny face Crawford when the former is a little 'longer in the tooth?'

That conservative approach would likely guarantee formidable revenue for each of Pacquiao's subsequent two or three fights fights, but Top Rank would run the risk of Manny losing and thereby passing the torch to a fighter outside of its stable. Moreover, even if that fighter had signed with Top Rank as a contractua; prerequisite for fighting Manny, he's certainly not likely to have the ring prowess of a dynamo like Terence Crawford.

If you were in Top Rank's position, what would you do?


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