Top Rank riding high with Terence Crawford, Vasiliy Lomachenko

Updated June 1, 2018 - 7:13 pm

Bob Arum founded Top Rank half a century ago, and the Las Vegas-based boxing promotional company has shown no signs of slowing as it enters a post Manny Pacquiao era.

Top Rank is armed with a long-term TV deal with ESPN and promotes arguably the two best pound-for-pound fighters in Terence Crawford and Vasiliy Lomachenko.

“The stars aligned,” Arum said. “It’s one thing to have the best fighter in the world, but to have the two best fighters in the world is really a blessing.”

Arum won’t say which one is better. He’s just glad he gets to promote two boxers he considers to be all-time greats in the future.

Crawford and Lomachenko are even when it comes to skills in the ring, but Crawford, from Omaha, Nebraska, is behind in star status.

Lomachenko, the WBA lightweight champion from Ukraine, has all the momentum after getting up off the canvas with an injured shoulder to record a 10th-round technical knockout over Jorge Linares on May 12.

The victory earned Lomachenko many new fans and moved him to the top of numerous pound-for-pound rankings. The 30-year-old might be boxing’s most exciting fighter with his aggressive punching style and masterful footwork.

Crawford (32-0, 23 knockouts) will return to the spotlight June 9 when he ends a 10-month layoff to challenge WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Crawford’s welterweight debut will be televised on the new ESPN+ $4.99 app.

Arum turned a lot of heads when he compared Lomachenko to the legendary Muhammad Ali. The 86-year-old promoter sees a lot of Sugar Ray Leonard similarities in Crawford.

“He’s a throwback to Sugar Ray Leonard, that’s the fighter I compare him with,” Arum said. “Is he better than what Leonard was? That’s hard to say, but certainly he’s on that level. He’s just absolutely been spectacular.”

Crawford, 30, is coming off a third-round knockout over Julius Indongo to become the undisputed junior welterweight champion. He is the first boxer to be called undisputed in any weight class since 2006 when Jermain Taylor did it at middleweight.

Crawford is arguably boxing’s best defensive fighter and can pick apart opponents from a righty and southpaw stance. But his slow approach in the ring might not appeal to many boxing fans, and it doesn’t help that most of his interviews are dull and short.

Arum doesn’t want Crawford to change just to gain fans.

“I want Crawford to be Crawford,” Arum said. “I don’t want him to be anything he’s not comfortable with. A lot of these guys for years tried to be Muhammad Ali out of the ring with their mouths, but there was only one Muhammad Ali.

“You gotta let these kids develop their own personality.”

A crowd of more than 10,000 is expected for the Crawford-Horn fight, according to Arum.

Crawford drew an announced crowd of 7,027 the last time he fought at the MGM Grand in 2016, when he defeated Viktor Postol by unanimous decision.

“Crawford is ready for the ride of his life, starting with the Horn fight because he’s becoming the poster boy of ESPN,” Arum said.

More boxing: Follow all of our boxing coverage online at reviewjournal.com/boxing and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.

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