ESPN: The new showcase for the pound-for-pound best

You’ve got to hand it to Top Rank boss Bob Arum. After decades spent in the sport, the octogenarian refuses to play it safe. While Arum’s outfit could have made money, quite a bit of it, with the upcoming fights of: Manny Pacquiao – a bona fide superstar, Terence Crawford – a superstar of the future, and Vasyl Lomachenko – for many, the best boxer on the planet today, pound-for-pound – Top Rank instead makes a deal to showcase the three champs on ESPN.

With this move, one that has effectively been a pay cut for Arum, the viewing figures seem assured to swell. The Pacquiao-Horn fight, just hours away, will likely pull in millions of ESPN viewers, while the Lomachenko-Miguel Marriaga fight (of August 5) and the Crawford-Julius Indongo 140-pound unification fight (of August 19) don’t figure to do too badly themselves.

Bottom line: the more fans who see you perform the better. So Pac Man, Bud and Hi-Tech will be happy – as long as they win their respective fights, of course.

The 140-pound unification is of course a big deal, and Crawford’s considerable skills might just be tested to their fullest by the tall, rangy, dangerous and riding high Indongo. The winner will walk away with quite a handful of belts, four in total, along with recognition as the best super-lightweight in the world.

The Lomachenko-Marriaga fight is one that’s a little harder to figure out. It’s no secret Lomachenko – incredibly just 8-1(6) yet for many the best pure boxer in the sport today – wanted a return fight with Orlando Salido; the teak-tough Mexican being the only man to have beaten him at pro level (and only the second man to have beaten the Ukrainian, period!) but that fight has proven elusive (the latest rumour in a sport filled with them says Salido will instead face the unbeaten Gervonta Davis next – tip courtesy of bloodyelbow.com).

So what, if anything, can the Colombian who is currently 25-2(21) – and never stopped – do with Lomachenko’s awesome southpaw skills? The 30 year old Marriaga has fought at featherweight, never managing to get his hands on a world title; losing to Nicholas Walters in a WBA shot in June of 2015 (the same Walters Lomachenko thoroughly dominated) and also dropping a decision against Oscar Valdez in his last outing, a WBO title shot, back in April of this year.

As special as Lomachenko is, this upcoming fight is a disappointment, as we fans want to see the magnificent two-weight ruler in the big, big fights. Hopefully these fights will come (just imagine if Salido does face Davis next, and beats him – how big would the Lomachenko rematch be then!). But in the meantime, ESPN fans can look forward to enjoying the showcased skills of Lomachenko, and Crawford, and, tomorrow, Pac Man.

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