WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) has sued his former promoter, Top Rank Boxing, citing (among other things) breach of contract, as well as fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation.

The New York Post was first to report this bombshell story, which comes less than two months after ‘Bud’ fought out his contract with the promotion.

Here is some of what the lawsuit alleges with regards to Top Rank and promoter Bob Arum’s racial bias:

“Crawford shines a spotlight on the systemic racism that runs through Top Rank, Top Rank’s complete inability to properly promote Black fighters, and Top Rank, Arum and [his stepson] Todd DuBoeuf’s disparate treatment of Black fighters, including Crawford.”

“Arum clearly allows his revolting racial bias to impact the fighters he is obliged to promote.”

[…]

“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.”

It continues by claiming, “Arum makes no secret of his deep-seated bias against Black fighters. For example, he called legendary Black boxer Floyd Mayweather ‘soft’ and claimed that he ‘shoots up cars’ — reinforcing an invidious racist stereotype with no basis in fact.

“He consistently mocks rival boxing promoter Al Haymon — who is a Black man — and his relationship with Black fighters, saying Haymon would steer a Black fighter away from fighting Crawford out of a sense of ‘brotherhood.’”

On the breach of contract side, Crawford had signed a three-year contract extension with Top Rank back in 2018. As part of his deal, the suit claims that Crawford was contractually owed two fights per contract year (Oct. 2018-Oct 2019, Oct. 2019-Oct. 2020, and Oct. 2020-Oct. 2021). This was not satisfied for the 2019-2020 period, when he only fought Egidijus Kavaliauskas in December 2019 and then didn’t fight again until November 2020.

Finances (per Boxing Scene)

  • vs. Jose Benavidez (October 2018, first contractual period) – $3.5 million + $45,000 in training expenses
  • vs. Amir Khan (April 2019, first contractual period) – $4.8 million + $50,000 in training expenses
  • vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas (December 2019, second contractual period) – $4 million + $50,000 in training expenses
  • vs. Kell Brook (November 2020, third contractual period) – $3.5 million + $50,000 in training expenses
  • vs. Shawn Porter (November 2021, third contractual period) – $6 million + $50,000 in training expenses

It should be noted, of course, that major boxing was shelved for a good chunk of 2020 due to the pandemic.

Crawford’s team is seeking at least $4,500,000 in compensation for “failing to provide Crawford with a second fight during the second year of the 2018 Agreement.”

The second breach of contract centers around the failure to make Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr.

From Boxing Scene:

“During the negotiations in or about October 2019, Crawford and his negotiating team informed Arum and DuBoeuf [sic] that he would not take the fight for the $4 million being offered to him. Arum and DuBoeuf informed Crawford that he should take the offer because a fight with Errol Spence Jr. (“Spence”) was right around the corner and that Top Rank could quickly make a Spence-Crawford fight happen.

“In fact, Arum and DeBoeuf said Top Rank would include a “Spence bonus” in the 2019 Kavaliauskas Bout Agreement in excess of nine hundred thousand dollars ($900,000) (the “Arum and DuBoeuf Spence Representations”) because they were confident they could make a fight with Crawford and Spence before the end of 2020.”

The discussions for the Kavaliauskas fight (with the “Spence bonus” included) apparently occurred a day after Spence’s serious car accident, which combined with the pandemic saw him not return to the ring until December 2020.

“Top Rank needed Crawford to sign the 2019 Kavaliauskas Bout Agreement in order to honor its obligations to ESPN and fraudulently entered into the 2019 Kavaliauskas Bout Agreement with the Spence Bonus Provision despite never intending to perform that promise in order to fraudulently induce Crawford into entering into the 2019 Kavaliauskas Bout Agreement.”

In total, Crawford is seeking upwards of $10 million in compensation.

Crawford, who signed with Top Rank in 2011, is coming off a 10th round TKO of Shawn Porter last November. It was the last fight of his Top Rank contract and just his third pay-per-view under the Top Rank banner. Estimates for Crawford vs. Porter were put at less than 200,000 buys, which was more than his pay-per-views vs. Viktor Postol and Amir Khan combined but nevertheless not in the same ballpark as other stars such as Canelo Alvarez, Tyson Fury, or Errol Spence Jr. He has, however, consistently drawn strong viewership on ESPN television.

After his win over Porter, Crawford indicated in the post-fight press conference that he was done with Top Rank and Bob Arum, while seated next to Arum. It’s no secret that Arum had repeatedly trashed Crawford for not doing enough to make himself a bigger star, and he’s been vocal about losing money promoting his fights.

What makes this lawsuit different than many other more recent boxing lawsuits is that Crawford is a promotional free agent, so there’s no bitter contractual battle like Top Rank had with Mikey Garcia.

Top Rank’s current notable fighters on the roster include Vasiliy Lomachenko, Tyson Fury, Teofimo Lopez, Josh Taylor, Oscar Valdez, Naoya Inoue, and Shakur Stevenson. Over the years they’ve promoted Thomas Hearns, Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather (who himself had a contentious relationship with Top Rank), Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya (who sued his way out of his Top Rank contract in 2001), and Manny Pacquiao.

Bob Arum has since responded to what he has deemed a lawsuit without any merit.

“Bud Crawford’s lawsuit against Top Rank is frivolous,” Arum said (via Mike Coppinger). “His vile accusations of racism are reckless and indefensible. He knows it, and his lawyer knows it. I have spent my entire career working life as a champion of Black boxers, Latino boxers, and other boxers of color. I have no doubt the court will see Crawford’s case for the malicious extortion attempt that it is.”

Crawford currently does not have a fight booked, but he’s certainly got himself a legal battle ahead with Top Rank.

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