Slowly but surely, a junior welterweight title unification fight between Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol is nearing reality.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that Crawford signed his contract earlier in the day for the July 23 HBO PPV headliner, which will take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"Crawford had signed, and everything is virtually resolved with Postol," Arum said. "There are a couple of little issues we have to iron out, but the big stuff is done. The money is done.
"The reason these little issues are not resolved yet is because [manager] Vadim [Kornilov] has to get our take on things and then go back to Elite Promotions and get their take," Arum said, referring to Postol's Ukrainian co-promoter. "It takes some times. There's a language barrier. But it's nothing of any serious consequence. All the major terms have been agreed to."
Arum said one of the issues on the Postol side is about the judging panel. Postol wants two neutral judges from Europe, although who is assigned to judge any fight is not up to the promoter. Judges are assigned by the local athletic commission.
"I told them they can go to the Nevada commission and ask for two neutral judges, but we can't tell the commission who to appoint," Arum said. "They'll understand that. It will get worked out. We want fair judging."
A former lightweight champion and the 2014 fighter of the year, Crawford (28-0, 20 KOs), 28, of Omaha, Nebraska, will be making his third 140-pound title defense. Postol (28-0, 12 KOs), 32, of Ukraine, will be making the first defense of the world title belt he won in upset fashion by knocking out Lucas Matthysse in the 10th round on Oct. 3 in Carson, California. Cameron Dunkin, Crawford's co-manager, confirmed to ESPN.com that Crawford signed the contract.
"He signed, and it's a terrific fight," Dunkin said. "I'm glad he is fighting. Postol is the toughest guy out there in the division, and not only do you get Postol, but you also have to go up against his trainer, Freddie Roach, one of the best in the business. But I believe in my guy. I believe he's the best fighter in the world right now, and we win this fight and move on to bigger and better things."
Arum said he is planning a news conference to announce the fight on May 24 in Los Angeles and might do a second one in Omaha, where Crawford is enormously popular.
"We expect a few thousand people to make the trip from Omaha to Las Vegas for the fight," Arum said.
Arum said the card would probably include another world title fight, perhaps the first defense of super middleweight titleholder Gilberto Ramirez (34-0, 24 KOs), the rising Mexican star who shut out Arthur Abraham to win the 158-pound belt April 9 on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. III undercard at the MGM Grand.
Arum also said one of the other pay-per-view bouts would include 2012 Japanese Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata (9-0, 6 KOs) as long as he defeats Brazil's Felipe Santos Pedroso (13-1, 11 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round fight on May 14 in Hong Kong and comes out of the bout healthy. The July 23 appearance would be Murata's second in the United States. He also fought in Las Vegas in November on the Bradley-Brandon Rios undercard.