No Provodnikov, but Crawford's next fight headed to PPV

Junior welterweight titlist Terence Crawford's next fight could be on HBO PPV. Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Immediately following junior welterweight titlist Terence Crawford’s five-round demolition of Hank Lundy to retain his belt on Feb. 27 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York in an HBO-televised main event, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum outlined his plan for Crawford’s next fight.

He would be back this summer to headline another HBO card at the Forum in Inglewood, California, and his probable opponent would be former titleholder Ruslan Provodnikov. Arum said that just before Crawford-Lundy he and Artie Pelullo, Provodnikov’s promoter, spoke about the fight and agreed to work on it as long as Crawford won.

They were due to get into the nitty gritty financial details this past Friday in a pre-arranged telephone call. The call happened but it left Crawford’s next fight up in the air.

Rather than engage Arum in a negotiation on the money for the July 23 bout, Pelullo was calling to tell Arum that Provodnikov, one of boxing’s most exciting fighters, was going to Showtime for a multi-fight deal that was about to be announced, one he negotiated while also leaving the door open for the Crawford fight in case the Showtime deal fell apart.

So Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOs), who will make his Showtime debut against John Molina Jr. on June 11, is no longer a consideration for Crawford’s next fight. On Monday, Arum told ESPN.com that while July 23 remains the date for Crawford’s next fight, the site could change and, more significantly, he will fight on HBO PPV, not regular HBO.

“We’re definitely going July 23 but we’re not sure if it will be still be at the Forum, but that’s one of the places we’re considering,” Arum said. “It depends on the opponent but we may go to Omaha (Nebraska, Crawford’s hometown). It may go to Las Vegas, maybe in the new (T-Mobile Arena). But we are doing a pay-per-view card around Crawford.”

That is quite the change of plans but Arum said “it has to do with budgets and so forth. HBO is going to do a lot of its fights on pay-per-view.”

It is no secret that HBO’s budget has taken a hit this year, which is making it hard to keep elite fighters such as Crawford (28-0, 20 KOs) as busy as they want to be (meaning three fights this year).

So even without a name opponent such as Provodnikov, Arum said Crawford will get his start on pay-per-view. He said a unification fight with Viktor Postol (28-0, 12 KOs), whom Arum also promotes, is a possibility and that he has talked to Postol’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, who also happens to manage Provodnikov.

Cameron Dunkin, Crawford’s co-manager, confirmed that Arum had spoken to him about the fight being on HBO PPV and that Postol was one of the possible opponents.

If Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez defeats Arthur Abraham to win a super middleweight world title on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley III HBO PPV undercard on April 9, Arum said Ramirez’s first defense would be on the July 23 undercard, possibly against Philadelphia’s Jesse Hart, who has a tune-up fight against Dashon Johnson in Philly on Friday night.

Arum said he was disappointed about what happened with Provodnikov but had absolutely no hard feelings toward Pelullo, with whom he has had his share of battles through the years.

“Artie was supposed to call me about the fight with Crawford and instead he called me to tell me they were going in another direction. He gave me that courtesy,” Arum said. “I didn’t know about it before then but I wasn’t upset. Crawford would have punched the hell out of Provodnikov. Artie opted for a much easier fight for Provodnikov and it will probably pay him a little less but it’s still an easier fight. I certainly didn’t blame him.

“It wasn’t like he gave me his word and we had a deal and he reneged. That I wouldn’t forgive. We were just talking about the fight. He didn’t do anything wrong. He took the deal at Showtime. Good for him. Now I’ll do something else for Crawford.”