Columnists, Mixed Martial Arts, Sports

The Four Belt Era: Will we ever see Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. fight?

Terence Crawford is 35 years old, Errol Spence Jr. is 32, and neither is getting younger. Both are seemingly still in their careers’ prime, but how much longer? Crawford and Spence are widely considered to be two of the best five pound-for-pound boxers on the planet, with Crawford, in some people’s eyes, being the best fighter in the world.

Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) is the WBO World Welterweight Champion, while Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) is the unified WBC, IBF and WBA “Super” World Welterweight Champion. The undefeated records, the pound-for-pound rankings and the quest for undisputed status are all reasons why this is one of – if not the best – fight to make in the entire sport. But what makes this fight different from the rest is why we haven’t seen it yet, and the question is if we ever will.

The possibility of this fight first arose when Spence unified the IBF and WBC world titles in a split decision victory over former champion Shawn Porter (31-4-1, 17 KOs) in September 2019. Shortly after Spence unified, Crawford defended his WBO title against Egidijus Kavaliauskas (23-2-1, 18 KOs) in December. Heading into 2020, both men made it clear that they wanted to fight each other. But, here we are, in the back half of 2022, and these two still haven’t fought. We seem just as far from seeing it as we were several years ago.

After Spence originally unified and before Crawford defended his belt in December of 2019, Spence was involved in a near-fatal car accident, threatening his boxing career. Along with the ensuing global pandemic, this posed a significant threat to the possibility of this fight. Spence luckily recovered from the accident and returned to the ring over a year later, in December of 2020, to defeat former world champion Danny Garcia (37-3, 21 KOs) by unanimous decision. Just weeks before Spence’s return fight, Crawford defeated a past-his-prime former champion in Kell Brook (40-3, 28 KOs) by knockout. Once again, a year later, the two were still looking to fight each other.

Fast forward to 2022 and the two still haven’t fought. In April, Spence defeated Yordenis Ugas (27-5, 12 KOs) to claim the WBA “Super” belt at welterweight. This leaves Crawford and Spence as the lone titlists at welterweight, which adds to the hype of their potential fight even more since it would now be for undisputed status.

Along with the pandemic and Spence’s car crash, the fact that they fought under two different promotions is the biggest reason we have not seen this fight. Crawford, now a free agent, had been promoted by Bob Arum, who is the founder and CEO of Top Rank Boxing. Spence has been and still is promoted by Al Haymon, who founded Premier Boxing Champions. Top Rank and PBC are two of the biggest promotions in the sport. Boxing has a history of failing to make the biggest fights. Promotions continually fail to agree with each other as they fight over who gets to promote the contest and pursue a split between the fighters.

Crawford’s fight against Porter was the last fight on his Top Rank contract. He made it clear that he wouldn’t resign as he looked for the Spence fight. Seemingly, one would assume this would have been an essential step in making this fight.

“There’s nothing standing in the way from us fighting,” Crawford told ESPN’s Mike Coppinger. “That’s the fight that I want… That’s the fight that everybody else wants,” Spence said in his post-fight interview after defeating Ugas in April.

Both men were clearly laser-focused on their next fight against each other.

Then, in September, the fight got as close to happening as ever, as both men agreed to terms for their potential fight, which was being targeted for Nov. 19. Nothing got signed, but financial terms were agreed upon, with Crawford getting the short end of the revenue. But before September even ended, the agreement fell apart. Since Crawford would be earning less than Spence for the fight, he wanted transparency in expenses, as he wasn’t given a guaranteed number for what he would earn. The target date for the fight was now set for December or January.

Crawford agreed to fight David Avanesyan (29-3-1, 17 KOs) on Dec. 10. Spence has already fought in 2022; Crawford has not. The fight with Avanesyan is only for Crawford to remain active, as he is still in talks to fight Spence.

The tumultuousness of the past three years regarding this super fight resembles that of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao’s drama. If there is one thing for fans of this potential fight to lean on, it would be that Mayweather and Pacquiao fought. Unfortunately, both men were past their prime, as terms were difficult to agree upon as they are with Spence and Crawford. If they don’t fight by the end of next year, I’m afraid we will never see them fight each other, or it will happen when they aren’t at their best, just like Mayweather and Pacquiao.

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One Comment

  1. Errol doesn’t want the fight at ’47 but at ’54 because he’s the BIGGER MAN!