Top Rank’s Arum Talks Crawford, Bradley, Valdez and More

BOB ARUM LOOKS AHEAD TO 2017 — One is a former Fighter of the Year and the other is this year’s candidate. Both will see action in 2017 says Top Rank’s Bob Arum.

Terence Crawford, the reigning WBO and WBC super lightweight champion, stopped two of three opponents in 2016. The Nebraska prizefighter annexed the WBC title from Viktor Postol with a performance that though not riveting, was impressive in showing off the varied abilities he possesses.

Crawford, 29, brought thousands of Cornhusker fans with him to Las Vegas last July and that in itself was impressive. Then he out-maneuvered the clever and taller Postol to win a convincing unanimous decision. It was something I did not think was possible.

Postol had the ability to constrict and slow down opponents with his grappling tactics then strike fast like a cobra. Crawford never allowed that to happen. Instead he boxed adroitly and kept the fight at arms-length. The judge’s scores were an after-thought. Most fans watching inside the arena or on television already knew Crawford had won.

Two weeks ago Crawford stopped Southern California’s always dangerous John Molina in the eighth round of their world title match in Omaha. It was Crawford’s third fight in 2016 and proved he may be too dominant for the super lightweight division. Should he move up?

Arum says Top Rank has big plans for Crawford but not in a higher division.

“Crawford will be back in April or no later than May. We’ve been talking to HBO,” said Arum by telephone. “He’s going to stay at 140, he’s so comfortable and makes 140 easy. No 147 pounds yet.”

At the moment there’s no strong candidate for Crawford to face. But his buddy could be joining him in the super lightweights.

Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley has only two losses in his 12-year professional career. Think about it. In a dozen years only one fighter has beaten the Palm Springs prizefighter and that was Manny Pacquiao. No others.

Bradley fought only once in 2016 and that was once again to Pacquiao in a fight that took place in Las Vegas. It was the third time they collided with Bradley taking their first encounter.

Most experts forget Bradley has only two losses and has dominated everyone else not named Pacman.

“After the first of the year we will see who we can get him to face at welterweight or junior welterweight,” said Arum. “No hindrances. Wherever the most advantageous fight for him is, that’s the one we are bound and determined to do.”

An abundance of welterweights or super lightweights are out there including Adrien Broner, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr. and others. But don’t expect Bradley to fight Crawford. They’re too close of friends.

Southern California title fights

This year two California-based prizefighters won world titles and a Mexican super middleweight living in Sinaloa, Mexican won too. And he’s not named Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez captured the WBO super middleweight title last April against Arthur Abraham and became a fan favorite, especially in Mexico.

“Univision designated Gilberto Ramirez, Mexican Fighter of the Year,” said Arum of the left-handed champion.

Another who won top honors was Oscar Valdez who grabbed the WBO featherweight title. He defended it and also had three impressive knockout wins this year. One of those wins came against former featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich.

“Valdez was just designated Mexican fighter of the year by ESPN Deportes,” said Arum of the featherweight champion from Sonora, Mexico who trains in Carson, Calif.

The former Mexican Olympian trains under Manny Robles who also prepares WBO super bantamweight champion Jessie Magdaleno.

Arum says an event featuring Ramirez, Valdez and Magdaleno is being considered for early Spring 2017.

“I want to take those two and Magdaleno and do a big Hispanic show in March,” said Arum. “We think probably California is the best and most advantageous spot.”

It gives fight fans an early reason to reserve a spot on their calendars.

Arum did not say exactly which venue but they are considering keeping the triple world champions in Southern California. It’s a great present for boxing fans of that region.

Valdez and Crawford are also both strong candidates for 2016 Fighter of the Year.

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