The working relationship between WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford and Top Rank’s Bob Arum already ended on a rocky note. Now things are getting serious, as Crawford is suing Arum and Top Rank, seeking nearly $10 million against Arum after alleging “revolting racist bias” that resulted in him failing to secure big money fights for the champion.
Per a copy of the lawsuit obtained by the New York Post, Crawford claims a breach of contract and fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation. Crawford, 34, signed with Top Rank in 201, but had a history of difficulty producing fights against top competitors in his division. The champion also discussed comments made by Arum against him, as well as a lack of commitment to secure fights against WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., among others.
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The lawsuit went on to allege the following regarding Arum and Top Rank:
“For years, professional boxers and others in the sports world have called out Top Rank’s owner Bob Arum for his disparate treatment of Black boxers, including those very same Black boxers that Top Rank is contractually obligated to promote.
“Because this is boxing, a sport with a checkered history, and because Arum is now dismissed as just a grumpy old white man, Arum continues to make racist and bigoted statements and purposefully damage the reputations of Black boxers without any consequences. This is generally because the affected boxers, who are in long-term contracts with Top Rank, fear that if they speak up, they will be placed on the sideline and not given the opportunity to fight during the life of their deal, which could be five to seven years. It is painfully clear that Top Rank, and especially Arum, judges people based on their race.
“Arum’s sordid history with athletes of color, especially Black fighters, and his bias favoring white and Latino fighters is well-documented and known throughout the boxing world.”
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A Golden Gloves silver medalist, Crawford made his pro debut in 2008. Crawford became light-welterweight champion in 2014 and, by 2017 held the WBO, WBO, WBA and IBF titles. Crawford in 2018 beat Jeff Horn for the WBO welterweight title. He has defended the belt five times, the last fight a TKO victory in November over Shawn Porter.
Crawford’s lawsuit alleges that fighting mandatories breached contracts, while also detailing the amount Crawford was paid for the bouts: In 2018, Crawford made $3.5 million against Jose Benavidez Jr. and $4.8 million against Amir Khan; In 2020, he was paid $3.5 million to fight Kell Brook. With only one fight in 2019, Crawford is reportedly owed $4.5 million for a second fight not being booked.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Crawford said he did not want to take a pay cut. He wanted to make more before his Top Rank deal ended. His lawsuit alleges he made $6 million against Porter.
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During this time, Crawford was part of the main evented of all Top Rank-produced shows. While he is considered the top boxer by many within the sport, there has been a debate regarding the caliber of opponents Crawford faced while with Top Rank.
Following the Porter fight, Crawford spoke to media — with Arum beside him — at the post-fight news conference. Crawford was honest when he said he was moving on, saying that Top Rank didn’t help secure a fight with Spence, who is signed with Premier Boxing Champions.
“Bob (Arum) couldn’t secure me the (Errol) Spence fight when I was with him, so how is he going to secure me the Spence fight when I’m not with him? I’m moving forward with my career,” Crawford said (via Boxing News 24).
Arum, who denied the allegations, said Crawford and Spence wanted too much money. The reported amount at the time was around $9 million to $10 million. Going further into the lawsuit, Arum said that Crawford’s problems are his own when it comes to fighting and marketing.
“Don’t call a man a racist when really this is because of your own failures,” Arum responded. “His marketability didn’t measure up to this ability and that has absolutely nothing to do with what race he is. … The outstanding fact is that Terence’s numbers on PPV have always been dreadful because of his failure to market himself.”
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The lawsuit adds that Floyd Mayweather made similar comments after his relationship with Top Rank ended. “Money,” who claimed he earned less with Arum, also brought up the idea of racial bias. Mikey Garcia, formerly under the Top Rank banner, also issued a lawsuit against the promoter in 2014, based on a dispute over his contract and his purses. This resulted in Garcia being away from the ring for over two-plus years.
Garcia’s attorney, Brian Freedman, also represents Crawford. Unlike Garcia, according to Freedman, Crawford can work through everything going on.
“It is unfortunate that Top Rank did not treat Terence properly and in fact spoke out regularly against him,” Freedman told ESPN. “Unlike other boxers bound to Top Rank contracts, Terence can assert his claims in court without Top Rank forcing him to sit out. Make no mistake, that is a game-changer.”
Arum has a history of working as a lawyer. He attended Harvard Law School, was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and worked with a few high-profile law firms.