Unified junior welterweight world champion Terence Crawford is poised to defend his crown against contender John Molina Jr. on Dec. 10 now that the camps have come to an agreement, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN on Friday.
Arum emphasized that the fight is not yet signed, but he said the terms are agreed to and the paperwork is in the process of being finalized for a bout that would headline a doubleheader on HBO's "World Championship Boxing."
Arum said the card will take place at the CenturyLink Center in Crawford's hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. The arena originally was booked to host a Creighton University men's basketball game on Dec. 10, but Arum said his staff worked with the school to move the game to another date, freeing up the arena for the fight card.
"We cleared out the basketball game and Molina has agreed to the fight," Arum said. "We've sent the contract. Everything is agreed to. Molina is a tough dude as he proved in the [Ruslan] Provodnikov fight [in June]. He's a quality opponent."
HBO made room for a Crawford fight on Dec. 10 when the originally planned fight between unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs got bogged down in negotiations and they gave up the date, leaving HBO with a major hole in its fourth-quarter schedule.
If Crawford-Molina is finalized, it will be something of a milestone in that it would mark the first time in many years -- other than the 2015 mega fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao -- that Top Rank and manager/adviser Al Haymon, creator of Premier Boxing Champions, have agreed to match their fighters together in a non-mandatory bout.
The nuts and bolts of the deal were negotiated by Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti and Tom Brown of TGB Promotions, but Arum and Haymon had to first sign off.
"I have absolutely no problem making fights with Haymon now. I respect him as a very smart guy, and I would do business with my fighters on his cards and I have no problem offering his fighters opportunities to fight my fighters on my cards," Arum said. "That wasn't true when we were in litigation, but the litigation is over now."
The 29-year-old Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs), who was the 2014 fighter of the year, vacated his lightweight world title in 2015 and moved up to junior welterweight and knocked out Thomas Dulorme in the sixth round to win a vacant belt. He has defended it three times, including a dominant decision victory against Viktor Postol on July 23 in Las Vegas to unify two belts in a fight between the boxers widely considered Nos. 1 and 2 in the weight division.
It appeared as though Crawford would not get the third fight this year that he and Top Rank had hoped for before the Dec.10 date opened up because of the Golovkin-Jacobs delay.
Molina (29-6, 23 KOs), 33, of Covina, California, known as an all-out brawler, figures to be a heavy underdog but is coming off a major victory over former junior welterweight world titleholder Provodnikov in a Showtime-televised main event on June 11.
Molina, the underdog in that fight as well, boxed a bit more than usual and won a unanimous decision in an exciting fight. It was the kind of win that turned his fortunes around after a rough three-fight losing streak between 2014 and 2015, when he got knocked out in the 11th round by Lucas Matthysse in the 2014 Boxing Writers Association of America fight of the year, lost a 10-round decision to former world titleholder Humberto Soto and then was outclassed in a one-sided 12-round decision to Adrien Broner, after which he tested positive for a banned diuretic and was fined and suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Molina was one of four opponents HBO approved for Crawford. There was also interest in a unification fight with Eduard Troyanovsky (25-0, 22 KOs), 36, of Russia; Antonio Orozco (25-0, 16 KOs), 28, of San Diego; and 2008 Dominican Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz (18-1, 8 KOs), 32, a top contender. Arum said they tried to get Troyanovsky but there was not enough time to get it done with the fight so close. Orozco and promoter Golden Boy turned down the fight. Diaz, who very much wanted the fight and was seen by many as the most worthy available opponent, was never offered the bout.
"My [matchmakers] said Diaz is a stinker and that it would not be a good fight to watch," Arum said.
Arum said there will be a televised cofeature. He said it likely would match two of three Top Rank lightweights: former unified titleholder Juan Diaz (42-4, 21 KOs), Jose Felix Jr. (35-1-1, 27 KOs) and Raymundo Beltran (31-7-1, 19 KOs).