Bob Arum proposes 50-50 split, joint TV deal to make Terence Crawford-Errol Spence superfight

Combat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Terence Crawford (R) reacts after knocking down Amir Khan in the first round of their WBO world welterweight championship boxing match Saturday in New York. (AP Photo)
Terence Crawford (R) reacts after knocking down Amir Khan in the first round of their WBO world welterweight championship boxing match Saturday in New York. (AP Photo)

Less than 12 hours after unbeaten WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford pummeled Amir Khan and stopped him in six one-sided rounds Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York, Crawford promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank hit the campaign trail in an attempt to make a welterweight title superfight with unbeaten IBF champion Errol Spence Jr.

The fight would be a boxing fan's dream, pitting fighters with a combined 60-0 record and 47 knockouts. It offers the promise for a similar bout as the 1981 classic between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns.

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The fans want it and the fighters want it. Crawford reiterated that in the ring on Saturday, when he said, "You know there's only one fight they're talking about, and that's Spence. Whenever you're ready, I'm here."

The problem making the fight, as it has been so often in the past, are the differences between the fighters' management and promotional teams. Crawford is with Top Rank, which has a TV deal with ESPN. Spence is with Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), which has TV deals with Fox and Showtime.

Errol Spence Jr. (L) dominates Mikey Garcia (R) in an IBF welterweight championship fight on March 16, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo)
Errol Spence Jr. (L) dominates Mikey Garcia (R) in an IBF welterweight championship fight on March 16, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo)

Top Rank and the PBC rarely do business together, though they have when it suits their needs. They most famously collaborated to put together the 2015 mega-bout between Manny Pacquiao, who was then with Top Rank, and Floyd Mayweather, who was with Haymon, though it took nearly six years to do it. They also worked together on a high-profile featherweight fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Gary Russell Jr.

But getting them to work together has never been easy. Arum reached out to Yahoo Sports on Sunday and proposed what seem like reasonable terms for the unification fight: A 50-50 financial split and a shared TV distribution.

"Look, no bulls---, I'm all in," Arum said. "We'll do 50-50 and split the TV with both ESPN and Fox, or whoever they want to use. Do it like we did for Floyd and Manny. It's easy. We want the fight and Terence wants the fight. We are not standing in the way of this fight and we are doing everything we can to get it done. Haymon won't even talk about it."

The PBC has the leverage of having nearly all of the credible welterweights under contract, including Spence, WBC champion Shawn Porter, WBA champions Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao and former champion Danny Garcia, who impressively stopped Adrian Granados in the seventh round on Saturday in Carson, California.

There have been talks of a summer unification fight between Spence and Porter, as well as a pay-per-view match between Pacquiao and Thurman.

Those are all quality fights, though none hits all the notes like Crawford-Spence would.

The results of Saturday's pay-per-view may go a long way toward whether the fight is made. Spence's last bout, a one-sided drubbing of Mikey Garcia on March 16 in Arlington, Texas, that was his first headlining a pay-per-view, did around 360,000 in sales.

If the Crawford-Khan bout has similar or better numbers, it may force the PBC's hand as it would show that Crawford is at least Spence's equal as an attraction. But if it is far less, it would likely make it far easier for the PBC to stay in-house for the time being and do a welterweight round robin.

Haymon does not speak to the media and has not for years, and he couldn't be reached for comment. PBC spokesman Tim Smith gave a statement to Yahoo Sports in which he declined to discuss it.

"We don’t really talk about negotiations or possible negotiations for fights," Smith said via text message. "When the fights are made, we announce them. We’ll leave all that for others."

The best-case scenario would be for both sides to acknowledge they want to make the fight and that they plan to talk. Then, they should keep things out of the media until the fight is done.

This is boxing, though, where the best-case scenario rarely happens. So stay tuned.

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