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Big fights remain on hold

Nick Giongco



Manny Pacquiao and Bob Arum hold the key in making the Terence Crawford fight. / Patrick HAMILTON/agence france-presse

Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum believes the coronavirus pandemic will play a pivotal role in the staging of boxing’s biggest bouts in 2021.

With promoters like himself and other big outfits reeling from COVID-19’s wrath, Arum remains upbeat that boxing could return to what it used to be.

“If COVID-19 is under control,” Arum told Daily Tribune from his homebase in Las Vegas where Top Rank has been holding regular behind-closed-door shows under a bubble setup at the MGM Grand.

Case in point is the proposal to match his pride and joy Terence Crawford, the reigning World Boxing Organization welterweight king against former favorite Manny Pacquiao, the current World Boxing Association ruler in the 147-lb class.

Arum said plans were afoot to make the fight happen in the Middle East but the coronavirus knocked everything out.

After Crawford crushed Kell Brook over the weekend, Pacquiao, who fought under Arum for over a decade, was called out by the unbeaten American fighter.

Pacquiao reacted strongly to Crawford’s call, telling him and Arum that he doesn’t see any problems going up against the man many regard as the best in the division.

But there are factors to consider in putting two marquee names together.

Unlike other fights, arranging matches involving boxing’s biggest names under these conditions requires more than just a suitable venue, attractive purses and logistics.

Sean Gibbons, who formerly worked for Top Rank and now heads Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, insists that the fighter and his team aren’t entirely affected by the absence of an audience.

“Once the bell rings, you don’t care or notice at all,” said Gibbons, who was at ringside when John Riel Casimero retained his world title last September in Connecticut.

“When a fight starts, you are in a zone and it was surreal like being in a movie and you were on the set.”

Still, Gibbons swears a live audience remains vital in staging big fights because the promoter taps revenue from tickets sold to pay up the fighters.

“The promoter largely — and not the fighter who is guaranteed a purse — depends on gate receipts,” Gibbons added.