Welterweight champion Terence Crawford filed a lawsuit Wednesday against his former promoter Top Rank in Nevada, alleging racial bias on the part of the company’s chairman, Bob Arum.
The suit alleges that the 90-year-old Arum “continues to make racist and bigoted statements and purposefully damage the reputations of Black boxers.”
Crawford, who is Black, signed with Top Rank in 2011 and rose to prominence, winning titles in three weight classes on his way to worldwide recognition. He’s currently ESPN’s No. 1 welterweight and No. 2 pound-for-pound boxer.
The suit also claims that “Arum’s sordid history with athletes of color, especially Black fighters, and his bias favoring white and Latino fighters is well-documented and known throughout the boxing world,” and that “Arum makes no secret of his deep-seated bias against Black fighters.”
Arum said in a statement later Wednesday that Crawford’s lawsuit is “frivolous” and a “malicious extortion attempt.”
“Bud Crawford’s lawsuit against Top Rank is frivolous,” Arum said. “His vile accusations of racism are reckless and indefensible. He knows it, and his lawyer knows it. I have spent my entire working life as a champion of Black boxers, Latino boxers, and other boxers of color. I have no doubt the Court will see Crawford’s case for the malicious extortion attempt that it is.”
Crawford, 34, is seeking damages to be determined at trial in excess of $5.4 million, money the fighter claims he lost due to Top Rank’s failure to deliver a second fight in year two of the extension he signed in 2018, along with its inability to offer him a bout with Errol Spence Jr.
The suit claims that when Crawford signed to fight Egidijus Kavaliauskas in 2019, the agreement included a $900,000 payment if Top Rank didn’t in good faith offer Crawford a bout with Spence by the end of 2020.
“It is unfortunate that Top Rank did not treat Terence properly and in fact spoke out regularly against him,” Crawford’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, told ESPN.
Freedman also represented Mikey Garcia in his 2014 suit against Top Rank, which led to the parties terminating his promotional agreement after Garcia was sidelined for nearly three years.
“Unlike other boxers bound to Top Rank contracts, Terence can assert his claims in court without Top Rank forcing him to sit out,” Freedman said. “Make no mistake, that is a game-changer.”
Crawford claims breach of contract as well as fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation. He also alleges that Arum made disparaging comments about him in an effort to harm his reputation and impact future prospects with a new promoter. The suit points to Arum’s 2020 remark that he “could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I’ve lost on him in the last three fights.”
Crawford made $6 million for his November pay-per-view bout against Shawn Porter, the last fight of his deal with Top Rank. The Omaha, Nebraska-born fighter made $3.5 million for the Kell Brook bout, $4.8 million for his fight with Amir Khan and $4 million for the matchup with Kavaliauskas.
The suit also points to comments Arum made in 2019 regarding the difficulty in making a Crawford-Spence fight with PBC founder Al Haymon, who advises Spence: “He’s gonna say, ‘Spence, listen to me. Don’t listen to the white guys, because if you listen to the white guys they’re gonna steer you down the road. Listen to me, brother. We’re part of a brotherhood. And if I tell you not to fight Crawford, I’m telling you not to fight Crawford.’ That’s exactly what he will say.”
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