After welterweight contender "Mean Machine" Egidijus Kavaliauskas knocked out Roberto Arriaza in the third round Nov. 16 with world titleholder Terence Crawford watching intently at ringside, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promotes both of them, came to press row at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City and made his intentions clear.
"We are going to look very closely at having Kavaliauskas challenge Terence Crawford for the welterweight championship of the world," Arum said.
But Kavaliauskas (21-0, 17 KOs), 30, a two-time Lithuanian Olympian, apparently won't be next for Crawford, because Top Rank is in talks for Crawford to make his second title defense against former world titlist Luis Collazo, a source with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN on Friday.
The target date for the bout is March 23 at Madison Square Garden in New York, for the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card. BoxingScene.com first reported the prospect of the fight earlier Friday.
Top Rank is very thin when it comes to welterweight contenders for Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), 31, of Omaha, Nebraska, to fight, so the company would go outside of its stable to make this fight.
Collazo manager Keith Connolly declined to comment on the prospect of the fight other than to acknowledge to ESPN that he and Top Rank president Todd duBoef have discussed it. Collazo's adviser is Premier Boxing Champions creator Al Haymon, and he and Top Rank generally do not do business with each other. But if Crawford-Collazo happens, it would not be viewed as any sort of breakthrough, because Connolly has more say-so with Collazo's career than Haymon. Also, Haymon has been willing to let his lesser fighters fight Top Rank opponents, such as John Molina, who suffered a knockout loss in December 2016 to Crawford, but not the bigger-name welterweights such as Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia.
In his most recent world title opportunity, Collazo (38-7, 20 KOs), 37, a southpaw from New York, suffered a seventh-round knockout loss to Keith Thurman in July 2015. Collazo did not fight again for 19 months, in part because of a torn left biceps that required surgery.
But Collazo has won two fights in a row since his return in February 2017: a sixth-round upset knockout of Sammy Vasquez and a 10-round majority decision win over Bryant Perrella on Aug. 4