By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford recently created a stir with a claim in an ESPN panel interview hosted by Teddy Atlas that Manny Pacquiao avoided a fight with him when he had the opportunity.
Crawford said he and Pacquiao could have fought “but he ran” prompting one of the ESPN hosts to ask him to repeat what he said.
But instead of repeating what he said, Crawford simply said that Pacquiao fought other fighters like “Algieri, Ruslan Provodnikov and Tim Bradley” when he had the opportunity to fight him.
Not only was Crawford wrong about Provodnikov whom Pacquiao never fought against, he was also wrong about Pacquiao avoiding a fight against him “when he had the opportunity.”
It was either Bud has very poor memory or he was lying in a not too subtle move to promote his forthcoming title defense against Egidijus Kavaliauskas by using Pacquiao’s name.
A simple review of how things were at around the time being mentioned by Crawford will bear out the fact that not only Pacquiao never ran away from a fight him but also there never had an opportunity for any fight involving the two to happen at any point in time when both were under Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotion.
But first, why did Pacquiao fight junior welterweights Bradley and Algieri, Bradley even in a series of bouts?
Recall that in 2012, Pacquiao lost back to back fights, first to Tim Bradley losing his WBO welterweight title via highly questionable decision and then by upset knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez that prompted him to take some sort of a medical leave.
The following year, 2013 he made a comeback against Brandon Rios and regained the WBO title in a rematch later that same year against Bradley who had by that time defended the same title against Ruslan Provodnikov and Marquez.
Also later in 2013, Provodnikov moved back down to 140 lbs and won the WBO junior welterweight title by stopping Mike Alvarado. He would lose that title on points to Chris Algieri early 2014.
Arum would pit Algieri against Pacquiao later the same year with the Filipino knocking the New Yorker down four times in winning an easy decision to retain his WBO welterweight crown.
At around this time, Crawford was still struggling for recognition at lightweight.
In April of the following year, 2015 Pacquiao would meet Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and drop a decision losing his WBO title in the process. Pacquiao would go on extended medical leave to undergo and recuperate from surgery of his injured shoulder.
He would come back in 2016 with victories over Bradley and Jessie Vargas regaining the WBO title in the process.
Pacquiao would lose the WBO title in an upset to Jeff Horn in July 2017 in Australia.
He would break ties with Bob Arum and Top Rank the following year and would win the WBA welterweight regular title by knockout over Lucas Matthysse in a co promotion with Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotion held in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
Since then, Pacquiao would ascend to the WBA welterweight super championship with victories over Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman.
It is clear from the foregoing that there never was any opportunity for Pacquiao and Crawford to fight between 2013-2015 as the Filipino was on a successful comeback trail supported by Arum with Mayweather as primary target. While Crawford was still a lightweight and later a debuting super welterweight
By Pacquiao’s second career resurgence in 2016 with winning bouts versus Bradley and Vargas, Crawford was still in the process of establishing himself at junior welterweight after first winning a world title at 140 the year before.
So what opportunity was Crawford talking about?
If there was opportunity for Pacquiao and Crawford to fight, it would have been in 2017 but Arum himself admitted that he killed that prospect, alleging that he wanted to save his superstar cash cow from humiliation at the hands of Crawford. But others suspected that it was really Crawford whom Arum wanted to save as he was still not ready for Manny at that time.
Indeed, if Arum readily pitted Bradley and later Algieri against Pacquiao in 2012 and 2014 even with Tim and Chris not having a single fight at 147 from 140, he could have also done so with Crawford in 2017.
Surprisingly Arum did not spare Pacquiao from a possible upset defeat to an obscure Jeff Horn. Or he never really expected Manny to lose?
In any case, Manny Pacquiao never ran away from a fight with Crawford at any opportunity, if ever there indeed was, as Bud alleged.
There may never be opportunity for a Pacquiao vs. Crawford fight as they are strictly under contractual obligation to two opposing camps given the business and politics of boxing.
Unless, Arum again is maneuvered to the sidelines.