By Lem Satterfield
Neither two-division champion Danny Garcia, WBA titlist Keith Thurman, nor two-time titleholder Shawn Porter is an elite welterweight capable of beating left-handed IBF 147-pound champion Errol Spence or WBO counterpart Terence Crawford, according to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum.
Arum believes matchups involving Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), Thurman, WBC king Porter or Garcia -- all of whom are aligned with powerful promoter Al Haymon and the Showtime and Fox networks – don't inspire the requisite fan enthusiasm to produce pay per view-caliber numbers of Spence-Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), an ESPN-signed, switch-hitting three-division title winner.
“All the other guys I discard,” Arum told BoxingScene.com's Keith Idec last month after Crawford's 12th-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Jose Benavidez Jr. in his second defense of the crown earned by June's ninth-round TKO of previously undefeated Jeff Horn.
“They’re not in the same league [as Crawford]. Spence may be in the same league. I would love to make the Spence fight. You hear me now – I’m ready to make that fight next. I’m ready to make it on very fair terms, where no fighter or no network has an advantage, to do that fight. We’re prepared to sit down and get that fight done. But I can’t force the other people into doing it. You understand?”
Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs) takes issue with Arum's assertion, his past three fights being a split-decision loss to Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) in March 2017, a ninth-round TKO of former 135-pound titleholder Brandon Rios in February, and a narrow unanimous decision loss to Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) in September.
“Crawford’s never fought an A-level fighter,” Garcia told Barbershop Conversations to counter Arum. “How can he [Crawford] be an A-level if he hasn’t fought any A-level fighters? The only way you can be an A-level fighter is if you fight another A-level fighter, right?”
"Swift" Garcia’s deep resume includes 13 of his past 16 fights at 140- and 147-pounds being against current or former champions, with 11 of them being victories.
Among those Garcia’s vanquished are four-division champion Erik Morales (twice), two-division titlists Robert Guerrero, Lamont Peterson, Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi, and one-timers Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, Mauricio Herrera, Kendall Holt and Nate Campbell.
Garcia owns fourth-round stoppages of Khan and Morales, a ninth-round TKO of Malignaggi, and made five defenses at 140 pounds.
The 31-year-old Crawford won his first world title at 135 pounds in March 2014 with a unanimous decision over Ricky Burns followed by a pair of defenses against former champions by ninth-round TKO over Yuriorkis Gamboa and unanimous decision over Ray Beltran in June and November 2014 before vacating the title.
“Bud” became a 140-pound champion in April 2015 with a sixth-round stoppage of Thomas Dulorme, and unified in July 2016 with a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Viktor Postal in his third defense, ending his own run of three consecutive knockouts.
In August 2017, Crawford recorded his third straight knockout and sixth defense via three-knockdown, third-round KO of previously unbeaten Julius Indongo, adding the IBF and WBA titles to his WBO belt.
Crawford’s fourth and fifth consecutive knockouts were against Horn and Benavidez, but Garcia’s still not convinced he’s beaten a top 147-pounder.
“Not at 147. He’s never fought an A-level fighter to me, and I’m not trying to downplay him,” said Garcia. “He’s a three-division champion, and you can’t take that away from him. But you need at least one good win. It’s not his fault, though, because it’s more about timing. There was nobody at 140 or 135.”