Top Rank chairman Bob Arum promotes numerous top fighters and elite prospects, but the best of the bunch are lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and welterweight world titlist Terence Crawford, who rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the ESPN.com pound-for-pound rankings.
On Wednesday, Arum offered an update on his two most significant fighters.
Crawford, the former lightweight and undisputed junior welterweight champion, knocked out Australia’s Jeff Horn on June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to win a welterweight title to give him a belt in a third weight class.
Crawford dominated the entire fight and Arum told ESPN that he will be back this fall, with the likely date being Oct. 13 on ESPN, possibly at CenturyLink Center in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
“The Nebraska football team is playing at Northwestern that day, so the game wouldn’t interfere with the fight,” Arum said. “So we’re holding the date at the CenturyLink Center.”
There is a chance, however, that Crawford could slide into November or December at another location.
As for who Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) would fight, Arum said nothing has been decided yet. One possibility is unbeaten contender Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0, 18 KOs), who impressively knocked out then-undefeated Frank Rojas in the first round on the Crawford-Horn undercard.
But in the event that the fight between Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) and secondary welterweight titlist Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) doesn’t come off — there are numerous issues with that fight, which is scheduled for July 15 (July 14 in the United States) at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Arum said he would talk to Matthysse promoter Golden Boy Promotions about matching Crawford with Matthysse.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the fight, but if it doesn’t happen, I would hope to talk to Golden Boy about having Matthysse fight Crawford,” Arum said.
Top Rank is Pacquiao’s longtime promoter, but it is not promoting the Matthysse fight. It is only handling the American television distribution, while Pacquiao’s MP Promotions is the promoter of the event, but it has missed several deadlines to finance various aspects of the fight, and it is at risk of being called off.
An initial payment of $500,000 was made to the Golden Boy/Matthysse camp when the fight was signed, but the rest of the money for their side — $2 million, according to a source — is more than a month past the deadline for when it was supposed to be deposited into an escrow account to hold the money until after the fight takes place.
Golden Boy declined comment on the issue but said Matthysse continues to train with Joel Diaz in Indio, California, in preparation for the bout.
MP Promotions has also failed to make deadlines to deposit funds needed to cover production costs of commercial spots and other aspects of a fight that was initially going to be an ESPN pay-per-view event. However, Arum said that is no longer feasible because so many deadlines were missed and that if the fight comes off it would air in the U.S. either on ESPN or ESPN+, but that the television deal still needed to be finalized.
As for three-division titleholder Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs), he is at home in Ukraine going through physical therapy following surgery in Los Angeles on May 30 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Lomachenko tore his labrum when he dislocated his shoulder and then popped it back into place during the second round of his 10th-round knockout victory against Jorge Linares, whom he moved up in weight to face and took the lightweight world championship from on May 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the world renowned orthopedic surgeon who performed Lomachenko’s surgery, said it went just as he had expected and that Lomachenko was on target to be able to box again before the end of the year.
“Everything is going great with Lomachenko,” Arum said. “They have the rehab person in Los Angeles working with the rehab person in Ukraine and coordinating the rehab.”
They use video conferencing from a cellphone on a regular basis so that the medical personnel in Los Angeles can observe Lomachenko’s movements and discuss the rehabilitation with his therapist in Ukraine.
“What they’ve said, anecdotally, is that they’ve never seen a rehab go as well for that type of operation, like Loma is superhuman,” Arum said. “We expect without any question that he will be back in November or December.”
After the surgery, Arum said the target date for Lomachenko’s return was Dec. 8, but if the rehab continues to go well, he said he could move into November. Either way, Arum said Lomachenko’s next fight likely will air exclusively on the ESPN+ streaming service.
“There’s no rush with Loma, but obviously, he loves to go in the ring and fight, and if he’s totally recovered and can go in November why wait until December? He can go in November if he’s healthy and then we can get him going again in February,” Arum said.
Arum said the opponent for Lomachenko’s next fight is not determined but that it likely would be a lightweight title unification fight against the winner of an Aug. 25 fight between world titleholder Raymundo Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs) and an opponent to be determined.