By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Bob Arum compared Terence Crawford to “Sugar” Ray Leonard during a press conference Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
That was somewhat acceptable hyperbole from a legendary promoter prone to it. Crawford, while not as accomplished as the legendary Leonard, at least is arguably the best boxer, pound-for-pound, in the sport at this moment.
Toward the end of the press conference, though, Arum made some comments that might’ve made P.T. Barnum blush. The 87-year-old Arum, in full promotional mode while hawking a pay-per-view event, promised that the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan main event Saturday night will be remembered among the best welterweight title fights in boxing history.
That’s an ambitious standard, obviously, for a fight in which Crawford is regularly listed as a 16-1 favorite.
“It’s gonna be a great fight – I mean, really, truly a great fight,” Arum said. “You know, as an old guy, which I admit I am, I’ve promoted a lot of great fights in the welterweight division. And they were so good that I remember them to this day. I remember Ray Leonard-Robert Duran in a rainy, outdoor arena, or stadium, in Montreal. I remember when Tommy [Hearns] and Ray fought for the first time. Those were classic, classic fights that people remember what happened, how one fighter was up, ahead, and the other fighter came back.
“That’s part of history in sports and it’s the lure of boxing. I promise you that this fight, Saturday night, between the champion Terence Crawford and the challenger Amir Khan, will be one of those fights. And people, years from now, long after I’m gone, will remember this fight as a classic fight and they’ll relive and tell it, what happened, to their children and grandchildren.”
The 31-year-old Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, and the 32-year-old Khan (33-4, 20 KOs), of Bolton, England, will fight for Crawford’s WBO 147-pound championship.
Their scheduled 12-rounder at The Garden will headline ESPN Pay-Per-View’s four-fight telecast. It’s set to start at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and costs $69.95 to view in HD.
The show also will include an intriguing 10-round featherweight fight that’ll match Shakur Stevenson (10-0, 6 KOs), a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, New Jersey, against Puerto Rico’s Christopher Diaz (24-1, 16 KOs). In a 12-rounder that’ll immediately precede the Crawford-Khan fight, emerging lightweight contender Teofimo Lopez (12-0, 10 KOs) will face Finland’s Edis Tatli (31-2, 10 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.