As we approach the end of the year looking back, boxing had a solid year considering we were transitioning from a lockdown to slowly returning to a somewhat normal lifestyle. Boxing tried its best to sandwich in as many fights as possible and make up for a year of lost revenue.
Although we still had and continue to have delays and cancellations, the sport has still been able to get some marquee matchups in place.
With more venues being made available for events as they make adjustments to their protocols, boxing is in line for a big year once the clock strikes midnight on December 31. So, what does that mean to you? It means that it’s time to take a peek at “Around the Curve” to see what is in store for 2022.
Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terrence Crawford in 2022?
Two weeks ago, we saw WBO Welterweight Champion Terrence Crawford stop Shawn Porter in a way no other fighter has in the past. But before we get into that night, something unusual happened a few thousand miles away at the 58th WBC World Convention. I say unusual because in an era where politics gets in the way of fights being made, Terence Crawford, through a third party, petitioned to the WBC that he be named the mandatory challenger for Errol Spence’s title. In a video clip recorded by ESNEWS, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman mentions that the request has to be filed by the fighter’s promoter and not by him. I want you to remember that last statement as it will come in handy later in this article.
Going back to that Vegas night where Crawford defeated Porter, in attendance for the fight was unified champion Errol Spence Jr. He had a bird’s eye view of the fight. After it was stopped, he walked out of the arena with a look of disappointment at the result.
In the post-fight conference, Crawford criticized Bob Arum, who was sitting next to him, for not securing the Spence fight in the past, which left many to assume he was not re-signing with Top Rank.
What does all of this mean, and how do these dots connect? It’s clear that Crawford still has the Spence fight in mind regardless of what he has said in the past. Also, knowing he could not secure the fight in the past and the WBC saying it would have to come from the promoter incentivized Crawford to walk away from the place he has called home for some years. He can now request it as he can be considered his own promoter with the help of Al Haymon.
Many have pointed towards the low PPV numbers as a reason the fight doesn’t happen, but I feel as though his performance increased the desire for the fight. Will this be an 80k arena type of fight? No, as their reserved and introverted personalities wouldn’t allow for a big stadium to be utilized unless it were in Dallas. And even in Dallas, the gate revenue wouldn’t be enough to fulfill the purses these two would require, which is at least 10 million dollars apiece.
So how does this fight get made? Well, there are only two areas it can take place where there are multiple revenues linked which would help pay for the fight: Abu Dhabi and Las Vegas. Spence Jr. was recently in Abu Dhabi, and according to Steve Kim, there were some conversations about the potential of hosting the fight there next summer.
Recently, I have heard whispers from my sources that the Spence Jr. vs. Crawford fight is being discussed for the MGM Grand in the May/June time frame. Although the MGM Grand is smaller than the other venues, you can get that large gate number along with whatever other revenue streams come out of hosting a fight on the Strip. You have to strike while the iron is hot, and this may very well be the last opportunity to make this fight.
With Errol sending the tweet below before the Crawford/Porter fight–which featured a SOLID prediction panel piece— it gives you the indication that he is ready to do it sooner than later. The WBA has a mini tournament going on, but it’s on the PBC side, so that fight will always be there for either guy. I believe Spence and Crawford know that the time is now or never, and we will finally see both men meet each other in the middle of the ring. Let’s just hope we don’t have to stamp our passports to see it live as this belongs in Las Vegas.
Canelo’s next chess move
Going back to that WBC convention, Eddy Reynoso and Canelo Alvarez dropped a bomb on everyone when they said that they wanted to challenge the WBC Cruiserweight champion Llunga Junior Makabu. Initially, it sounded crazy as the cruiserweight limit was 199, but after approving the fight, the WBC lowered the limit to 190. Team Canelo admitted that he would be coming into the fight in the mid 180s and not 190.
This move makes ALL of the sense in the world. This is Canelo wanting to gauge the strength and the feel of a much bigger guy before he steps into the ring with who he really wants to fight. That man is unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev.
That is the fight he wants, but Canelo is a smart guy, and before knowing whether that is a calculated risk, he has to test himself. Who is ready for Canelo vs. Beterbiev in September? I am, and certainly, the whole boxing world will be too.
After that, Canelo could potentially finish the year facing a volunteer defense somewhere in Europe to establish his fan base out there.
Caleb Plant vs. David Benavidez?
With Canelo doing all of these other things, where does it leave the rest of the middleweight division? For starters, I think we get that long-desired Caleb Plant vs. David Benavidez fight, which is the only way you can get both men a multi-million-dollar payday. Regardless of his loss to Canelo, there is still plenty to anticipate in a Caleb Plant vs. David Benavidez fight. That fight sells itself, and if you tell me you’re not interested, I’ll call you a liar or use what the kids are saying these days and say that you're capping. (EDITOR: Yeah, sounds suss, bro). You put that fight in Vegas or Los Angeles, and it will pack the house. There’s real bad blood, and when genuine hate between two guys is on display, it makes for a more significant event.
Around the Curve Quick Hits
I wrote the sentence “if the GGG vs. Murata fight happens in a few weeks, I think we see the winner going up against Jermall Charlo in the spring” a day and a half before we learned that Covid wants to elongate the pain.
What about Keith Thurman? He seems like the odd man out in the welterweight equation, but he is going to be forced to fight one of these young guns at the #1 ranking. A fight I have long desired is Keith Thurman vs. Vergil Ortiz. I think this fight now happens, and we will see how ready Vergil really is. If the Ioka vs. Ancajas fight goes through, I can see the winner facing Joshua Franco in the summer as the other titles have other obligations. Do we finally get that mega-fight between Ryan Garcia vs. Gervonta Davis next year? I’ll just say to stay tuned for more Around the Curve in 2022.
My Three Cents
As the New Year approaches, let’s give a toast to boxing for a solid year, given the conditions that everyone had to work with. And also toast to what is going to be an exciting year for boxing to come.