LAS VEGAS – Terrence Crawford was in the thick of the running to be Manny Pacquiao’s opponent in his first fight back from a shoulder injury in what could be the biggest break of his unbeaten career.
Crawford, the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior welterweight champion, had the blessings of trainer Freddie Roach and the Pacquiao camp – but not promoter Bob Arum.
The Top Rank chairman admitted thumbing down Crawford for Pacquiao’s next fight, stressing the unbeaten, 28-year-old American from Omaha, Nebraska, has yet to really establish a strong fan base.
“That’s true. I’ve been saying the freaking thing over and over again, Crawford is an excellent fighter, a future star for Top Rank and boxing. But Crawford isn’t known to the people,” explained Arum to mediamen following the 20-minute question and answer portion that preceded Manny Pacquiao’s grand arrival at the MGM Grand on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time).
Roach thought Crawford is a perfect opponent for Pacquiao, whose been campaigning as a welterweight for the past eight years but whom he thinks is a better puncher at 135 (featherweight) and 140 (light-welterweight).
“We said yes (to the Crawford fight), but I don’t think it was us who didn’t want to make it happen,” he said.
For all of Crawford's skills and talent as a fighter, the 85-year-old Arum doesn’t yet see the fighter as being ready for stardom.
“He’s been in a couple of fights in HBO and we’re afraid to put him as a major opponent on a Manny Pacquiao card,” said the Top Rank promoter.
And so as it turned out, Crawford’s loss was Tim Bradley’s gain.
Bradley gets another crack at Pacquiao on Saturday at the MGM Grand when they clash in a 12-round welterweight match.