By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Errol Spence Jr. respects Terence Crawford.
The unbeaten IBF welterweight champion admits the undefeated Crawford is “a great fighter” whose skills and style he appreciates. Spence simply thinks he is better.
That said, Spence emphasized early Sunday morning that their much-anticipated welterweight title fight is nowhere near close to taking place. Spence discussed the obvious obstacles prohibiting him from facing Crawford at any point in the near future and why he thinks Crawford receives more credit than deserves while reporters waited for the Shawn Porter-Danny Garcia post-fight press conference to begin at Barclays Center.
“A lot of people wanna talk about when I say we’re on different side of the streets and things like that,” Spence said. “It’s true. Me and Terence Crawford are on different side of the streets. He just signed with ESPN. I don’t fight for ESPN. I fight for Showtime or FOX. You know what I’m saying? So the other side of the street, Al Haymon. And then like BoMac [Crawford’s trainer/co-manager Brian McIntyre] said, ‘I guarantee you EJ’s living paycheck to paycheck.’ I’m definitely not living paycheck to paycheck. I guarantee you if we check our tax reports at the end of the year, I’ll guarantee you I make more than him. He got three coaches. We don’t know who the head coach is.
“So at the end of the day, I’m a way better fighter than Crawford. Who has he fought? The only name fighter he fought is Yuriorkis Gamboa. I fought Lamont Peterson, Chris Algieri, Kell Brook. And how many fights he got? Thirty-something fights? [People say] he’s a great fighter and things like that, but you can’t put him to me. Like the guy he just fought for the undisputed light welterweight championship of the world [Julius Indongo], Regis Prograis stopped him [faster] than he did. So you’ve gotta add that all in to conclusion to who you say the top welterweight is. A lot of stuff is smoke and mirrors. That’s what Bob Arum do. Bob Arum do a lot of smoke and mirrors. It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors with him. And that’s how it is with Terence Crawford.”
The 28-year-old Spence doesn’t think Crawford has beaten anyone better than Chris Algieri. Spence stopped Algieri (21-3, 18 KOs), a former WBO junior welterweight champion, in the fifth round of their April 2016 bout at Barclays Center.
“Name the top guy he fought that’s better than Chris Algieri?,” Spence said. “Name me one guy.”
A reporter responded by naming former WBC 140-pound champion Viktor Postol.
“Viktor Postol,” Spence asked. “Who he beat, [Lucas] Matthysse? Matthysse, he showed when he get hit back, he folds. When Pacquiao hit him back, he folded.”
Spence, a 2012 Olympian from DeSoto, Texas, acknowledged that fighting Crawford would earn him a lot of money. The powerful southpaw reiterated, though, that he is more interested in battling Keith Thurman once the often-injured, unbeaten WBA welterweight champion comes back from a hand injury.
“I feel like it’s a big-money fight because a lot of people are drinking the Kool-Aid,” Spence said of facing Crawford. “But at the end of the day, I feel like me and Keith Thurman is the fight to make. A lot of people bring up Terence Crawford [because] Keith Thurman’s been inactive. But when Keith Thurman comes back and he has a great fight, he shows what he’s been showing in fights with Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, everybody’s gonna be talking about Errol Spence-Keith Thurman.
“A lot of these fans and these reporters, they live in the moment. They’re talking about Errol Spence-Terence Crawford, this and that. But they was just talking about Errol Spence and Keith Thurman. So once he comes back and he has a great fight, it’ll be, ‘Oh, what about Errol Spence and Keith Thurman?’ ”
The 30-year-old Crawford is scheduled to make the first defense of his WBO welterweight title on October 13 in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs), who stopped Australia’s Jeff Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) in the ninth round to win that title June 9 in Las Vegas, will make an optional defense versus Phoenix’s Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0, 18 KOs) in a main event ESPN will televise from CHI Health Center.
Spence expects to fight WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) or Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) in his next bout. Porter beat Garcia (35-2, 20 KOs) by unanimous decision to win the vacant WBC welterweight title Saturday night at Barclays Center.
Assuming neither fighter loses before it happens, making a pay-per-view bout between Spence and Crawford will require Haymon and Arum, as well as Showtime and ESPN, to work together. Spence suspects boxing’s politics will prevent that occurring for quite some time.
“Like I said, he’s on the wrong side of the street,” Spence said. “Who’s he calling out? Who’s he calling out? Al Haymon guys, right? How he gonna get that fight when he just signed with ESPN? I’m not going to ESPN at all, because the big-money fights and the fights that I’m really gonna make is with Showtime and FOX. … Terence Crawford’s gotta leave ESPN and come to Showtime or FOX. Or they do something where they both work together and then we both fight. I’m not worried about it all. I’m not gonna discredit Terence Crawford. Terence Crawford is a great fighter. I like the way Terence Crawford fights. I respect him a lot. But like I said, he’s on the wrong side of the street.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.