Crawford-Khan Will Headline First ESPN-Top Rank PPV
Terence Crawford and Amir Khan on April 20 will headline the first Top Rank Boxing PPV that is part of the "promotional company's seven-year deal" with ESPN, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. The venue has yet to be determined, though Top Rank Founder & CEO Bob Arum previously indicated that it "would take place either at Madison Square Garden ... or at one of the MGM Resort International arenas in Las Vegas." Khan "had been far down the road with Matchroom Boxing" on a deal to fight Kell Brook, but Top Rank "came to Khan with a strong offer ... because it needed a name opponent for Crawford to face." He will be offered "at least $5 million and the chance to win another world title on a major American pay-per-view." ESPN has "invested heavily in its deal with Top Rank under which there are live network cards, streaming cards on ESPN+ and an array of shoulder programming." PPVs were "always considered another important element of the partnership" (ESPN.com, 1/15). In Omaha, Tony Boone noted Crawford has "fought on ESPN twice and ESPN+ once since Top Rank signed" with ESPN in '17 (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 1/11).
HELP ME HELP YOU: YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Iole noted the UFC will "open the ESPN era" on Saturday with a card headlined by Henry Cejudo-T.J. Dillashaw. The card will be on both ESPN and ESPN+, with the early fights on the network "before it transitions to ESPN+" for the main event. The UFC is "going to help push the growth of ESPN+," and there is "little doubt that being on ESPN will enhance the UFC." The MMA outlet is "fishing where the fish are, and figures to be able to nab sports fans who watch ESPN but who haven't regularly watched UFC shows before" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/14).