The COVID-19 pandemic.
Promotional deals aligned with Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
Networks deals with ESPN and FOX/ Showtime.
At least one, or a combination of all three aforementioned reasons are given by boxing fans why a clash between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence has not been made.
But are they really? Or are there other factors as to why this colossal fight has yet to be officially made?
Could promoter Bob Arum and advisor Al Haymon finalize something in 2021, baring Spence defeat Danny Garcia on December 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, not far from his hometown of DeSoto?
Or is this fight going to be another example of a fight that took place past it peak (ala Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao), if at all?
Crawford staked his claim as the best fighter at 147 pounds Saturday night in Las Vegas, stopping Kell Brook in less than four rounds. After another customary slow start, Crawford hurt Brook with a jab and followed up with a barrage that dropped him. After beating the count, Crawford battered Brook before the fight was eventually stopped.
After the fight, Crawford and Arum revealed a fight against WBA titleholder Manny Pacquiao would have taken place this weekend in a country in the Middle East. According to sources that told ESPN, that country was Qatar.
A fight between Pacquiao during the first quarter would be great since Crawford owns the WBO title, with the winner becoming a unified titleholder. Then you could finalize a unification fight between Spence, who owns the IBF and WBC titles.
But boxing fans have heard this before and they do not want an empty promise. Again. Boxing fans have long wanted the fight between Crawford and Spence and cannot fathom why another year would go by before this fight would take place, if at all.
Again, what is the hold-up? Bob Arum? Al Haymon? Crawford? Spence? Top Rank? Premier Boxing Champions (PBC)? ESPN? FOX/ Showtime? A combination of any of what was mentioned?
During the post-fight interview on the ESPN telecast Saturday night, Arum stated Spence “will try to avoid Terence Crawford as long as he can because he knows he can’t beat Terence Crawford. You saw the performance tonight. He’ll take out Errol Spence in about the same number of rounds like he took out Kell Brook.”
Those are indeed fighting words, but Spence has faced solid opposition as well thus far, including Brook, Mikey Garcia and, most recently, Shawn Porter. When comparing both fighter’s resumes, who has fought the better opposition between the two: Crawford or Spence?
A day after the ESPN telecast, Lance Pugmire of The Athletic put out a story on Arum and Crawford. When asked about Crawford, Arum went all in on the undefeated fighter.
“He’s got to promote like (unified lightweight champion Teofimo) Lopez does,” stated Arum. “He’s got to promote like (former WBO featherweight titleholder and current junior lightweight contender) Shakur (Stevenson) does. Like (Floyd) Mayweather did. Like (Manny) Pacquiao did. If he doesn’t, then who the f**k needs him? He may be the greatest fighter in the world, but, hey, I ain’t going bankrupt promoting him.
“The question is, ‘Do we want to keep him?’ I could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I’ve lost on him in the last three fights, a beautiful home. Nobody questions Crawford’s innate, tremendous ability. By beating a naturally bigger guy (Kell Brook), decisively, that’s a big statement that’s he’s making. The question is, ‘Does he pay the bills?’ Look, you can have the greatest opera singer in the world. If the fans don’t support it, you’re out of business.”
One could wonder if these statements are due to the reported rift between Arum and Crawford.
Crawford reportedly has two fights left on his contract with Top Rank. In a perfect world, those last two fights would be a fight against Pacquiao, which Arum is targeting in April or May in the Middle East and a fight against Spence later that year.
Another question is what would be the purses between the respected fighters. Would a Pacquiao-Crawford fight be on ESPN if a significant site fee would be paid up front (again, why the fight could be held in the Middle East)? Or would the fight go to a shared pay-per-view between Top Rank and PBC in the same way that occurred in the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder on February 22?
Crawford was paid $4 million dollars for the fight against Brook so a fight against Pacquiao and/or Spence would command a $7-8, maybe even a $10 million dollar purse. Would Crawford be okay with taking the smaller figure of a 55-45 split in pay-per-view revenue against Spence and/ or Pacquiao for a fight to be made against either fighter?
Or does Crawford honor his remaining contract by fighting two modest opponents, signs with PBC or another promoter, and seek the Spence bout or whoever has the other world title belts. Or he could do what Floyd Mayweather did in buy out his contract from Top Rank.
All these scenarios could play out but the one that needs to happen is the Crawford-Spence fight. Or Spence-Crawford fight. Boxing fans would not mind a fight between Pacquiao and Crawford as long as it leads to a fight against Spence for the undisputed welterweight championship.
Boxing needs this type of fight. Enough with letting Spence-Crawford or Crawford-Spence marinate. It is beyond that. Here is to all parties working together to make this fight happen. It should happen.
It is Spence-Crawford/ Crawford-Spence or bust for 2021. As long as Spence defeats Danny Garcia on December 5.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing