Can Terence Crawford be successful on PPV?
By Hector Franco
On February 27th, Terence Crawford defended his WBO Jr. Welterweight title successfully against Hank Lundy via 5th round stoppage. As it turns out this was the third bout in a row for Crawford against an opponent that was a massive underdog. Coming off of a great 2014 where Crawford was named the fighter of the year by most publications. Since then it’s been a downward slope in momentum for the Nebraska native. As of now Crawford is playing a waiting game with Manny Pacquiao to get in the ring with him to grant him his first major event that would be on PPV. Instead of facing Crawford in April, Pacquiao decided to face Timothy Bradley in a rubber match that could be the final bout of Filipino’s career. Crawford unfortunately, will not be able to wait for Pacquiao to make his PPV debut.
For the past few weeks, there have been rumors flying around the boxing world that the budget for HBO sports has been lowered from its amount in years past. This affects the amount of fights the network will be able to put on its network for shows such as World Championship Boxing and Boxing after Dark. This leaves Crawford and his promotional team Top Rank in a difficult position. They may need to look to place him on another network in order to keep him fighting at least, three times in 2016.
The opponents available for Crawford to put on a successful PPV are limited. Besides a bout with Manny Pacquiao, there aren’t any opponents with Top Rank that would spark interest in a PPV. Even then Pacquiao is not the superstar he once was. All PPV’s are not created equally. Fan’s have become swayed by the enormous success of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Many believe that any PPV that sells under a million buys is a failure. PPV buys under a million would be a failure for a PPV if the fighter is getting paid amounts like 32 million and 20 million a fight like Mayweather and Pacquiao. Crawford is in a different position and does not need to sell a million or even half a million PPV buys to generate a profit. Fans should know that Top Rank is not afraid to put up the money for their own PPV. In the past, they put up a series of PPV’s called Latin Fury and Pinoy Power. In 2006, Top Rank put on a PPV featuring the Miguel Cotto-Paulie Malignaggi bout against HBO’s Antonio Tarver-Bernard Hopkins PPV. If Top Rank wants to put Crawford on PPV they need a good opponent and an even better undercard.
The most logical choice for Crawford would be to face Ukranian Viktor Postol. Both men are considered the two best in the 140-pound division and are undefeated. Both men being promoted by Top Rank makes the bout easier to make. The headline of Crawford-Postol doesn’t exactly make dollar signs when you see it. Stylistically the bout may not end up being the most exciting. In fact, it could be ugly.
If Top Rank goes with Viktor Postol they will need another compelling bout to run as the chief support. There have been rumors since Jessie Vargas stopped Sadam Ali back on March 5th, that future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez may be interested in facing Vargas. Vargas currently has the WBO welterweight title. Marquez has for years expressed his goal of becoming Mexico’s first 5-division world champion. Crawford-Postol and Marquez-Vargas on the same PPV card could be promoted as an acceptable PPV for fans. To make the PPV even bigger and possibly garner a larger buy rate, Top Rank will have to cross boxing’s promotional divide.
Even with Top Rank having a lawsuit against Al Haymon, Bob Arum has stated that he wanted an Adrien Broner bout for Crawford. Crawford-Broner would be a fight that would excite fans. Broner usually delivers when promoting a bout and a win over Crawford would put Broner back in the conversation as one of the elite boxers in the sport. At this point it’s unclear if Broner would be willing to fight Crawford. Terence would be the clear favorite over Broner. Top Rank would have to put down a big down payment to get Broner on a Top Rank PPV, but at this point it seems that Arum would be willing to take the risk.
Top Rank has chosen Terence Crawford to be their next face of the company. They will need to put on quite a show if they plan on putting him on PPV as the headliner. There is no perfect formula to build a PPV star. Everyone who has been at that point to be a PPV star got there through various terms. For Crawford to be successful on PPV, it will depend if Top Rank can put him in a position to be successful.