With boxing pay-per-view events returning to the United States on a regular basis, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum gave his reasoning as to why the upcoming fight between Terence Crawford and Amir Khan is also a pay-per-view bout.
In a recent conference call that featured Crawford, Khan and Arum, the long-time promoter was asked on Fightful the thought process of putting this fight together and not having it on regular ESPN television or on the ESPN+ streaming service.
Crawford, the current WBO welterweight champion, drew great ratings for his last fight against Jose Benavidez Jr. and his success as a TV draw was certainly a factor, said Arum. Another reason for the pay-per-view bout was the matchup itself being worthy of a price tag to watch.
“It’s really a combination of both. It’s the matchup that warrants a pay-per-view and it’s also because it’s such a big fight that this is professional boxing and the fighters have to be compensated because it is such a big fight. Therefore, you cannot rely on a network to constantly come up with big money as a rights fee. If the fight is big enough, you have to then go to the public and say to the public, ‘Hey, this is a terrific fight. You have to support the fight.’ Sometimes, the public says no, but if we have confidence in the event, they’ll say yes. So that’s really what it’s all about," Arum said.
Of course, even great fights on paper don't necessarily result in big pay-per-view sales. One of the more recent examples of such is the first fight between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward for the unified light heavyweight titles, a fight that failed to even break 200,000 buys.
While the idea of pay-per-view is intriguing for fighters and promoters as the right event could have all sides reap huge financial rewards. But in the case of Crawford vs. Khan, the idea of it being on pay-per-view may also have to deal with the fact that the fight might be too big for it to be on regular ESPN television. Arum hinted that the event, which will see several of Top Rank's biggest rising stars, including Teofimo Lopez and Shakur Stevenson, fight in separate bouts, is just to big for a rights fee to support it on free television.
"We can stop playing the games of whether a fight should be a pay-per-view or shouldn’t be a pay-per-view. The first question, is it a really good matchup, really an interesting event? Then secondly, is it affordable on regular television? Can a rights fee support the fight? In this case, we have a splendid event and we have fighters who have to be and should be compensated for their performances and therefore, you go to pay-per-view. That is the mindset. Everything else is noise,” Arum said.
Crawford vs. Khan for the WBO welterweight title will take place on April 20 at Madison Square Garden and will be shown on ESPN pay-per-view. You can listen to Arum's comments in response to a question Fightful asked in the video above.