LOS ANGELES — Bob Arum and Top Rank are currently piecing the puzzle that is Terence Crawford’s career.
The Nebraska native and pound-for-great is yearning for a legacy-defining fight. Steam continues to build toward a potential Errol Spence Jr. unification fight. As soon as the Spence declares himself fully healthy following a scary car accident last October, Arum has said a deal can be done with Al Haymon in one hour.
In the meantime, Arum has thrown his name into the hat of staging crossover fights between MMA fighters and boxers.
Arum has challenged UFC star Conor McGregor to a pair of fights against Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) — one in the boxing ring, the other in the UFC octagon.
“Conor McGregor is a good athlete. But he’s not a boxer. He’s an MMA guy. I’m saying let’s test it out,” said Arum. “They can fight in the octagon and three months later do it in a boxing ring. The octagon can be first because I don’t want them to think that we are playing around. Terence Crawford is a really tough dude who has a really good wrestling background. It’s not like a guy like [Floyd] Mayweather who is a really great boxer and would be pretty much lost in the octagon … I think Crawford is a world class wrestler. So let’s see. Let them take the challenge. I think it will be massive.”
The 32-year-old Crawford, currently the WBO welterweight champion, comes from a wrestling family and formally put the sport aside in his youth to focus on boxing instead. His sons, however, are nationally ranked wrestlers today, and Crawford is very much a part of the sport as a parent.
“I’m a fighter first. As a fighter, I would entertain it,” Crawford told ESPN last week. “I just have to have the proper time to prepare myself. It would be a little more than boxing training. I haven’t been in that [wrestling] environment in a long time, but most definitely I feel I can compete with anyone given the proper time to train on the MMA side, being that I have a wrestling background. McGregor would have to worry about my stand-up game as well. It would be interesting. He’s got good kicks and he’s strong. I’d have to prepare myself for those things, but I feel I would be all right.”
“I can’t get none of these top welterweights in the ring to fight me, so whatever is clever. I’m with it all,” Crawford said of a potential MMA fight.
Arum is confident the star of his stable will pull out the win no matter what side of the street he’s fighting on.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Crawford pins McGregor in an MMA fight. I really mean that,” said Arum. “Crawford is a better wrestler than McGregor is. We have a blueprint. Talk to [Crawford trainer] Brian McIntyre. He has it all figured out.
“Let’s test this out. We proposed fighting on each other’s grounds.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at [email protected].