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Omaha native Bud Crawford files lawsuit against former promoter

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Terence "Bud" Crawford, the world boxing champion from Omaha, is suing his former promoter, Top Rank.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County, Nevada. Top Rank is headquartered in Las Vegas.

Crawford has retained Bryan Freedman as his lead attorney. Freedman is a Los Angeles-based attorney whose practice is dedicated to entertainment and sports law, among other areas. Freedman represented another boxer, Mikey Garcia, in a 2014 lawsuit against Top Rank.

According to reports from the New York Post and ESPN, Crawford alleges that racial bias by Top Rank CEO Bob Arum hindered his career and prevented him from landing more marquee fights. Crawford signed with Top Rank in 2011 and was represented by the promoter until November 2021.

Crawford, 34, is seeking a jury trial with damages in excess of $5.4 million, according to ESPN, money he alleges Top Rank failed to deliver by not arranging a fight against Errol Spence Jr., one of the other elite fighters in Crawford's weight class.

"It is unfortunate that Top Rank did not treat Terence properly and in fact spoke out regularly against him," Freedman told ESPN. Freedman did not return a World-Herald request for comment.

The lawsuit points to public comments Arum made about the money he loses on Crawford fights, citing a 2020 remark: "(I) could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I've lost on him in the last three fights."

According to ESPN, Crawford made $6 million for his November pay-per-view fight against Shawn Porter, his last with Top Rank before becoming a free agent. Crawford made $3.5 million for a November 2020 fight against Kell Brook, $4 million for a December 2019 fight against Egidijus Kavaliauskas, and $4.8 million for an April 2019 fight against Amir Khan.

Arum, 90, has spent decades in the world of boxing and has staged fights for notable boxers over the years like Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao.

Crawford was expected to reach that same level of stardom in the sport. Crawford quickly rose through the ranks with Top Rank as his promoter. 

In August 2017 he made a historic title unification in the light welterweight division. He then moved up to welterweight, where he has won all six of his fights by technical knockout.

But despite his standing among the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, Crawford to this point hasn't been able to fight the other best fighters in his class. The Porter fight in November was his most high-profile opponent to date — but others, like Spence, have thus far eluded him.

Crawford, in his lawsuit, claims Arum is the major reason why.

But Arum, who spoke to the New York Post, claims he lost $20 million promoting Crawford.

“Don’t call a man a racist when really this is because of your own failures,” Arum told the New York Post. “His marketability didn’t measure up to this ability and that has absolutely nothing to do with what race he is. … The outstanding fact is that Terence’s numbers on PPV have always been dreadful because of his failure to market himself.”

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