In his second year as a professional boxer, Errol Spence Jr. fought eight times. In Terence Crawford's second year as a pro, he fought five times. By the end of 2015, Spence's fourth year, he had already fought 19 times, roughly 68 percent of his career total. By the end of 2013, Crawford, in his sixth year, had fought 22 times, or approximately 58 percent of his career total.
If this isn't a stark reminder of why boxing is struggling, then I'm not sure what to tell you. A decade ago, the issue was the top stars not fighting enough, and now, we hardly see them at all. Spence, the No. 4 ranked pound-for-pound by The Ring Magazine, has fought only six times since 2018. Crawford, ranked No. 3, has fought eight times combined since 2017.
However, except for Canelo Álvarez, the problem has only worsened in recent years. And now, the bug has seized even the sport's rising stars, who are vital to building interest in the sport. Currently, Canelo remains the hottest name, although his trilogy bout with Gennadiy Golovkin posted disappointing numbers. But if Álvarez were to retire today, who would be next in line to take the throne? It would be an intense debate because everyone believes they're a damn superstar. And that's the problem that has plagued boxing for the last decade.
Many fighters will tell you they'll end up the greatest fighter of all-time and make boatloads of money. But in reality, only a select few will command massive purses and receive support from a promoter that can afford to pay their demands and get a solid return on their investment. That's why Canelo was able to fight three times in 2021 alone, which is unprecedented these days for a big-name fighter.
On the other side of the coin, there's not much to speak about. Crawford and Demetrius Andrade haven't fought in nearly 11 months, and Jermall Charlo hasn't boxed for close to 16 months.
There are also a multitude of boxers who have had just a single fight this year alone, including Spence, Caleb Plant (who knocked out Anthony Dirrell over the weekend), Deontay Wilder (who knocked out Robert Helenius on Saturday), Gervonta Davis, Stephen Fulton, Jaron “Boots” Ennis, etc. The list is much longer, but I will not bore you with an endless enumeration of names.
These exorbitant purses have put promoters in a bind to the point that they can't afford to pay them the kind of money they demand to fight more than once a year or twice if they're lucky. This is wishful thinking, but how much better off would the sport be if either Spence, Crawford, or Devin Haney fought five times in 2023? As I stated earlier, this is about the future of the sport. We build our prospects by getting them as many fights as possible, and we can do the same with our stars, thus, these purse demands would be sustainable.
Do a trial run. Have them fight for a few less million per fight for slightly lesser opposition. In my opinion, the sport's interest and excitement would rise astronomically. Then, you have something for the fans at the end — the mega fight they've all been asking for or just a terrific matchup. And to top off the rising dough on that beautiful pizza, there won't be a place for these goofy YouTuber fights or the look of constipation we've seen on some of the posters.