Terence Crawford's next fight not only will take place outside of his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, but will now take place at Madison Square Garden thanks to a recent venue change.
Crawford was set to defend his unified light welterweight title against Felix Diaz on May 29 in Newark, New Jersey before fight officials decided to move it to Madison Square Garden.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef told ESPN they wanted to try and change the Garden, hoping there would be an open spot for the fight card to take place.
"When we were in town for the Conlan fight they asked us why we were going to the Prudential Center," duBoef said. "We know how hard it is to get a Saturday night at the Garden at that time of year. We assumed the Garden was off limits because they always have so many dates they have to hold for the NBA and NHL playoffs. But they said, 'Listen, there may be an opportunity. Would you be open to shifting the fight to the Garden? I said, 'We love going to the Garden.' They said, 'Are you interested? We think we can pull it off.'"
Top Rank looked to Newark in part because featherweight Shakur Stevenson, the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, is from Newark and will have his second professional fight on the card and figured to bring a crowd.
Even though Stevenson would have brought in a more local feel to the card, but duBoef said Crawford would serve better as a headliner at the Garden and said Top Rank could explore Newark in the future once Stevenson develops more as a pro fighter. Another reason for the fight taking place in New York City is Diaz's Dominican roots and the potential for drawing in a larger crowd due to the large number of Dominicans in the city.
"Felix Diaz has Dominican roots and there is a strong Dominican presence in New York," duBoef said. "The Garden said they will be very aggressive in marketing the fight and we were able to work something out."
Crawford had fought in Omaha in four of his last seven fights, including his most recent fight. The two fighters kicked off their press tour this week. Madison Square Garden will most likely have about 10,000 seats open, which is about half of the maximum capacity that the Garden can hold.
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