Terence Crawford was in the same building with two of his divisional peers, yet still remains unconvinced that either one serves as a realistic option for his next fight.
That said, there exists greater hope of a future showdown with Vergil Ortiz Jr. than with fellow welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr.
“That fight won’t ever happen,” Crawford suggested to reporters while ringside at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth for stablemate Maurice Hooker in his 7th round stoppage loss versus Ortiz. “It’s over with. I don’t know why y’all keep asking me these same questions.”
Spence (27-0, 21KOs) was in the house this past Saturday to take in the evening’s action, including the headlining act between a pair of fellow Dallas natives in Ortiz and Hooker. The unbeaten, unified WBC/IBF titlist—who hails from nearby Desoto—has emerged as by far the area’s biggest attraction, while also serving alongside Crawford as the best both at welterweight and among pound-for-pound rankings.
None of that has been enough to get Spence and Crawford in the ring, despite their respective title reigns overlapping since June 2018. Crawford (37-0, 28KOs) picked up the WBO belt with a one-sided, 9th round stoppage of unbeaten titlist Jeff Horn. His first title defense—a 12th round stoppage of undefeated challenger Jose Benavidez Jr. in Oct. 2018—was followed by a spirited run-in with Spence later that November while both were on hand for Hooker’s knockout win over Alex Saucedo at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
It was the closest they’ve come to an actual fight, with the prospects of such an in-ring showdown continuing to dwindle with time.
Crawford remains without a viable option for his next fight, although two names have been mentioned as potential candidates—former titlists Manny Pacquiao and Shawn Porter.
Ortiz (17-0, 17KOs) did his best to add his name into the mix, calling out Crawford shortly after his DAZN-televised knockout win over Hooker which included knockdowns late in round six and early in round seven. The unbeaten rising star—who turns 23 this week—went so far as to demand the fight even if he’s not yet ready from a developmental standpoint.
To that point, his stated target would like to see the work put in rather than draw criticism for facing yet another opponent on the wrong side of his prime. Previous showdowns with Amir Khan (April 2019) and Kell Brook (Nov. 2020) were dismissed as the pair of faded former titlists well past their best.
There exists the argument that Ortiz is still a big win or two away from being ready for prime time. Crawford seems to agree with that take, with Saturday’s victory serving as a step in the right direction more so than confirmation of taking on the best.
“Vergil looked like he was supposed to,” Crawford said of Ortiz’s performance. “He wants to fight me, I respect that. All I can tell him is keep working hard, keep doing what you doing and we’ll see what happens.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox