Top Rank is proud to announce that pound-for-pound superstar and the current WBO welterweight world champion Terence “Bud” Crawford has agreed to new multi-year agreement with the company. Crawford, who originally signed with Top Rank in 2011, has captured world titles in three weight classes and won the award for best fighter at the 2018 ESPYS.
“I am the best fighter in the world, hands down. ESPN is the biggest brand in sports and Top Rank is the biggest promotional company in boxing,” Crawford said. “This was a no-brainer for me and my team. All of the super fights that the world wants to see will happen. Mark my words. Like I’ve said before, I want all of the champions in the welterweight division.”
“Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford is the world’s best boxer,” said Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. “We will continue our ongoing campaign to establish him as one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.”
“Without a doubt, this is one of the most lucrative deals for an individual fighter in the history of boxing,” said Brian McIntyre, Crawford’s trainer/manager. “The deal that I helped put together with Top Rank and ESPN is unprecedented in the modern boxing landscape. If you think you’ve seen the best of Terence Crawford, you ain’t seen nothing yet. To all the pretenders out there who want a piece of him, you’ll get what is coming. With Top Rank and ESPN in our corner, we are going to make some of the biggest fights in the history of boxing. We will continue to show the world that Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford is one of the greatest fighters to ever lace up a pair of gloves.”
Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs), the pride of Omaha, Nebraska, is 11-0 with eight knockouts in world title bouts. He captured his first world title – the WBO lightweight crown – with a unanimous decision against Ricky Burns on March 1, 2014. Less than four months later, he cemented his status as a pound-for-pound elite with a ninth-round TKO against then-unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa in front of nearly 11,000 fans in Omaha. Crawford made one more defense of his lightweight title before moving up to 140 pounds.
Crawford cleaned out the 140-pound division, going 7-0 in the weight class and unifying all four major world title belts with a third-round knockout against Julius Indongo in August of last year. With nothing else to accomplish at 140 pounds, Crawford set his sights on the welterweight division. In his welterweight debut, June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Crawford battered the previously undefeated Jeff Horn en route to a ninth-round stoppage victory to capture the WBO title.
Crawford, though, has unfinished business at welterweight. Armed with the backing of Top Rank and the company’s new seven-year deal with ESPN, he is ready, willing, and able to take on the division’s other world champions.
Terence “Bud” Crawford will return to the scene of many of his greatest professional triumphs intent on stopping a man who has repeatedly lobbied for a fight. Crawford will make the first defense of his WBO welterweight world title against Jose Benavidez Jr. on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the CHI Health Center Omaha (formerly the CenturyLink Center). Crawford-Benavidez will air live and exclusively on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10:30 p.m. ET with undercards streaming live in the United States at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ – the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.
It was Benavidez who challenged Crawford in Corpus Christi, Texas, this past February, accusing him of ducking a potential showdown. Crawford invited Benavidez to “step outside” before cooler heads prevailed. They will settle the score in front of a raucous crowd who will be cheering on their hometown hero.
ESPN’s coverage of the event starts Friday, Oct. 12 with the live Top Rank on ESPN Crawford vs. Benavidez Jr. Weigh-In show. Lineup (ET):
5:30-6:00 p.m., ESPN2 (LIVE, Main and Co-Main Events)
9:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; 1:30 a.m.-2:00 a.m., ESPNEWS (repeat)
Streaming on ESPN+:
5:00-6:00 p.m., ESPN+ (streaming LIVE, entire card)
Promoted by Top Rank, tickets to this world championship event go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 10 a.m. CST. Priced at $178, $103, $63, and $38, not including applicable fees, tickets can be purchased at the CHI Health Center Omaha box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800-745-3000, or online at ticketmaster.com.
“The Crawford-Benavidez fight is an old-time grudge match. These are two elite fighters who don’t care for each other, to put it mildly,” said Bob Arum, Top Rank’s founder and CEO. “They will battle each other at a fever pitch. I can’t wait to watch the action.”
“This fight is the fight he has been calling for, and now he will get the chance to see what it’s like to be in the ring with a real champion,” Crawford said. I’ll happily give him his first L.”
“I’ve been wanting this fight for three years. I know I have what it takes to beat him, and I am going to beat him,” Benavidez said. “Crawford has been running his mouth and saying I’m a nobody. I’m going to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is a three-division world champion, a pound-for-pound elite who was recently named “Fighter of the Year” at the 2018 ESPY Awards. In his first bout of 2018, June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, he defeated defending WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn via ninth-round TKO. Crawford did not miss a beat against Horn despite a nearly 10-month layoff due to a hand injury. Prior to dominating Horn, Crawford became only the third fighter of the four-belt era to unify all the belts when he knocked out fellow unified 140-pound champion Julius Indongo in the third round. Crawford has drawn a total of 44,360 fans in four bouts at the CHI Health Center Omaha, including nearly 11,000 when he knocked down Yuriorkis Gamboa four times en route to a ninth-round TKO to retain the WBO lightweight title in one of the best fights of 2014. Five months after the Gamboa win, Crawford cruised to a wide unanimous decision against Ray Beltran, who went on to win that title more than three years later. In his most recent CHI Health Center Omaha appearance, Dec. 10, 2016 against John Molina Jr., 11,270 fans packed the building as Crawford battered Molina before stopping him in the eighth round. Crawford is 11-0 with eight knockouts in world title bouts and is ranked by many boxing experts as the world’s best fighter.
Benavidez (27-0, 18 KOs), a former WBA interim super lightweight champion, turned pro in 2010 following a standout amateur career that included a 2009 National Golden Gloves gold medal at 141 pounds. His road to this career-defining fight has been anything but smooth, as he was shot multiple times in an August 2016 incident in his hometown of Phoenix. After a nearly 18-month layoff, Benavidez returned on Feb. 3, 2018 in Corpus Christi with an eighth-round TKO against Matthew Strode. It was before the weigh-in for the Strode bout that Benavidez confronted Crawford. Benavidez last fought on the Crawford vs. Horn undercard, knocking out the previously undefeated Frank Rojas at 1:23 of the opening round.