Sources: Crawford to fight Madrimov for title

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Terence Crawford, ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer, will move up to 154 pounds to challenge Israil Madrimov for his WBA junior middleweight title Aug. 3 in Los Angeles, sources told ESPN.

The event will be presented by Riyadh Season under His Excellency Turki Alalshikh, the chair of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority in association with Sela Sport. There will be a news conference Wednesday in New York to announce the bout.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made a major commitment to boxing since 2019, when it staged the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz heavyweight championship rematch. The kingdom’s interest in boxing grew exponentially when Alalshikh entered the fray last year with October’s Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou fight in the capital city of Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia went on to stage a December card featuring former heavyweight champions Joshua and Deontay Wilder, then a March fight between Joshua and Ngannou. The kingdom will present its two biggest fights yet over the next two months: the Fury-Oleksandr Usyk undisputed heavyweight championship bout May 18 and the Artur Beterbiev-Dmitry Bivol undisputed light heavyweight championship bout June 1.

Both of those fights will take place in Riyadh. Now, Saudi Arabian officials are branching out with their first boxing event outside of the kingdom with Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) as he looks to become a four-division champion vs. Madrimov.

This event will be the first in partnership with Crawford, who is from Omaha, Nebraska. And it will be his first fight since his ninth-round TKO victory over Errol Spence in July to become the undisputed welterweight champion. Crawford, 36, will be making his 154-pound debut.

Madrimov (10-0-1, 7 KOs) won the WBA title when he scored a fifth-round TKO victory over Magomed Kurbanov last month in Riyadh on the undercard of Joshua-Ngannou.

Madrimov, a 29-year-old Uzbek, is ESPN’s No. 3 junior middleweight. It was reported Thursday that Jermell Charlo, the former undisputed junior middleweight champion, had petitioned for an immediate shot at Madrimov as WBA champion in recess.

TGB Promotions, the promoter of PBC events, sent a letter to the WBA on Thursday (obtained by ESPN) clarifying that Charlo has no objection to Crawford meeting Madrimov first.

“[Charlo] hereby requests to be reinstated as the WBA super champion at 154 pounds. We also want you to know that Jermell has no problem with Israil Madrimov defending his regular title against Terence Crawford this summer.”

The “regular” title used by the WBA is a secondary belt. The WBA hasn’t made a ruling yet. Charlo is looking to return later this fall, with Tim Tszyu, Sebastian Fundora and Spence possibilities, sources said.

Charlo hasn’t competed at 154 pounds since May 2022, when he defeated Brian Castaño in a rematch. Charlo fought in September at 168 pounds, a wide-points loss to Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight championship.

This won’t be the last boxing match presented by Saudi Arabia outside the kingdom. Eddie Hearn, who promotes Madrimov, and Frank Warren said Monday in London that the plan calls for the Saudis to hold a fight in September at Wembley Stadium featuring Joshua vs. the winner of the June 1 Filip Hrgović-Daniel Dubois fight.

Hrgović-Dubois, on the Beterbiev-Bivol undercard, is expected to be contested for the vacant IBF title after the Fury-Usyk winner relinquishes the belt.

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