Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford: Let the debate begin
In a triumphant homecoming, IBF welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. took care of Carlos Ocampo in short order, at the Ford Center at the Star, in Frisco, Texas. What was thought to be a mismatch (40-1, according to the wise guys), was just that, as a single body shot, at the end of the first round, suddenly ended the night.
Like Terence Crawford – who bludgeoned Jeff Horn for the WBO welterweight belt – a week earlier, Spence dominated, as expected. I call these match-ups “Chris Rock fights,” in which you do what you’re supposed to (such as take care of your kids) and you really shouldn’t get all that much credit for winning them. As Rock said during this famous riff:
Yeah, OK; so neither guy fought King Kong or Godzilla but there is something to be said about the eye test. They just look the part of elite guys. I’m not a huge fan of pound-for-pound lists (oh, lets be honest; I think they are, at best, mental masturbation) but there’s no doubt that these are two blue-chip boxers, who are among the very best in the world. To paraphrase Bum Phillips – it don’t take long to call roll in the class they’re in.
They are as contrasting as they are talented. Crawford is a master boxer, who blends athleticism, tenacity and technique to surgically dissect his opponents. And while the pride of Omaha, Nebraska, is a scalpel who conducts surgery, Spence is a sledgehammer, who uses his heavy-handed fists to systematically and brutally break down his foes.
Larry Merchant, who watched Spence’s latest victory, said, “He is a terrific body-puncher, one of the best I’ve seen. His intent is to hurt the other guy to the body.” And the Texan is unique in this aspect, “He’s a southpaw body-puncher. Southpaws generally try and generally use their southpaw-ness to have an advantage in their pure sparring. But this guy is looking to hit you and hurt you in the body.”
Both are extremely gifted in completely different ways. This is why this potential match-up is so appealing. It says here it’s the best – and biggest – fight that can be made between two American boxers, currently. Crawford, 33-0 (24), has won major titles in three separate weight divisions, now has a welterweight title and some believe he’s the best boxer on the planet. Spence, 24-0 (21), is widely considered the best 147-pounder on the planet.
Not only are Crawford and Spence undefeated and untied but they are also in the thick of their physical primes. Spence is 28 years old, while Crawford is 30. (However there is an unfortunate reality to this that we’ll touch on later.) And with Spence finally being showcased back at home – he played to an announced crowd of over 14,000 at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility – they both have proven to have rabid regional support.
And as the question was posed to the masses – Who do you like in Spence-Crawford – support was divided 50/50, with over 900 votes.
Some favor the fleet-footed Crawford and his boxing skills, which are blended with switch-hitting skills, that are unmatched in the sport. On the flipside Spence, is the naturally bigger and stronger welterweight and one of the best punchers in the sport.
Many believe size matters but others think speed kills.
OK, all this is great but the reality is this fight, at the earliest, will take place in 2019 or, more realistically, 2020. Once again the business and politics of boxing will hold up the sport of boxing. As you know, Spence is aligned with the Premier Boxing Champions and Al Haymon, while Crawford is promoted by Top Rank. PBC boxers are basically showcased exclusively on Showtime (at the championship level), while Top Rank has an exclusive deal with ESPN.
Crawford is scheduled to return in mid-October, in Omaha. On Saturday night after his victory, Spence said he wasn’t sure when he’d return and he seemed to indicate that would depend on how quickly he would get the winner of the Shawn Porter-Danny Garcia fight (for the vacant WBC title), which has yet to have an announced date or venue. Regardless Spence – who has now boxed twice in 2018, after performing just once last year – should be demanding at least one more outing before this calendar year turns. “Strike while the iron is hot,” is the saying.
Going into the future, Spence has more options, as the PBC has fellow welterweights such as Garcia, Porter, – hey, maybe even a Keith Thurman (look, I’m thinking optimistically, here) – while Crawford won’t have as many enticing dance partners, for the time being. Each will now build his case as the best welterweight, while also vying for honors as the premier prizefighter, overall.
Through it all, one another will be on their minds and on the forefront of discussion, as it relates to their fights: When will Crawford and Spence face each other? Their shadows will loom over one another till they bump.
There is now a clear public mandate for this match-up to come to fruition. The question is, will the power-brokers involved be able to come to an amicable resolution to make this a reality within due time?
Crawford-Spence (or is it Spence-Crawford?) should be one of the sport’s preeminent rivalries, one that could define legacies and create history. It would also be pretty damn good for the sport of boxing and its fans.
All it needs is to get started.
Danny Roman, who successfully defended his WBA 122-pound title versus Moises Flores, has really turned into a very good fighter. The only thing he lacks is power but he checks off every other box…Not sure what to think of the ending of the Adrian Granados-Javier Fortuna fight. Fortuna did hit his head on the “camera box” right outside the ring but that doesn’t mean he may have not suffered a case of whiplash…Lewis Ritson looks like a guy to watch in the lightweight division…Not much going on in other sports till NFL training camps start up…”Marlon” on NBC is hilarious; I can’t lie…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.