The spring is here, which means pollen and the allergies that come with it. But for boxing, it means a murderous row of fights from here through June. It's an exciting time as real matchups and unifications are being made, and the picture is getting clearer in quite a few divisions.
One of the most important dominoes to fall will occur this weekend when WBC & IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (27-0) goes up against WBA champion Yordenis Ugas (27-4). The fight is in Dallas and with the mayor declaring it “Errol Spence Jr. Day,” it almost seems like this is all set up to be a huge moment for the thirty-two-year-old out of Desoto, TX. They are expecting another large crowd to attend the fight, and rightfully so, as residents of Texas support their own to the fullest.
One person that I expect to be in attendance is WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford (38-0). Crawford is not contractually obligated to anyone, which has been a point of friction in the past when talks of Crawford and Spence Jr. fighting would come up. Spence Jr. was at Crawford's last fight against Shawn Porter and left as soon as Porter's father called the fight. In this post-fight interview, Spence Jr. admitted that even if he wanted to go and step into the ring after the fight, ESPN wouldn't allow it.
Spence Jr. and Crawford have been more vocal about finally meeting each other in the ring within the last few weeks. Spence recently tweeted the below, which is what the fans want to hear from him but, just as important, some action behind those words.
Spence Jr. also addressed the potential of a Crawford fight in this Kate Abdoo interview that was posted on social media a few days ago.
— Kate Abdo (@kate_abdo) April 6, 2022
Interestingly, he mentioned later this year as that is exactly when I see this fight happening. If Spence Jr. wins on Saturday night, I think Terence Crawford jumps into the ring, and they will announce a fight between the two which will blow the roof off of Jerry's World in Dallas, TX. Although Las Vegas would want this fight, it would make more sense to do it in Dallas during Thanksgiving weekend. The Cowboys normally play on the actual holiday, which frees up Friday and Saturday for the weigh-in and the fight.
Crawford's fans travel, and the trip from Omaha to Dallas is ten hours of driving and maybe two hours on a flight, so I can see upwards of 50-75 thousand in attendance for that one. It will be a huge event in Texas and will resemble a college football national title game type of audience because of how passionate fans are from both cities. This is the last real shot, and they cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
This all sounds good, but what happens if Ugas wins? Then we get a rematch between Ugas and Spence, leaving Terence Crawford fighting either Keith Thurman, Vergil Ortiz Jr., or Jaron Ennis. After all of that is done, we will get Crawford vs. Spence at junior middleweight with less sizzle than it would have if they fought while both being undefeated. The boxing world will be tuned in on Saturday to see who wins and if anything happens at the end, like an end-of-credit scene on a Marvel movie.
40 is the new 35
I tweeted this before, but I had to mention it one more time. After this year, the big names at lightweight will all be at junior welterweight. Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia, and Devin Haney will all be heading North after this winter. The hope is that we aren't playing this game of finger-pointing on why certain fights aren't made. Teofimo Lopez is already at 140, but I'm not sure we even see him fight this year. He's got a ton of stuff going on.
Before we start thinking about opening presents, Ryan Garcia vs. Gervonta Davis should be occurring at the beginning of December. The irony here is that there was a framework discussed for a fight between them to take place in December 2020, but the lack of fans being able to attend killed that plan. It's the biggest commercial fight that can be made here in the U.S. It will certainly sell out a stadium as they both have two huge but different fan bases that are loyal and supportive. Can boxing have a year where two super fights are made?
My Three Cents
Boxing has been on a good run lately, but these two fights that were mentioned in this article have the potential of gaining crossover success and giving the sport a much-needed boost commercially. But we are talking about boxing, and somehow, someway, this will get mishandled, and we have to settle for something other than the desired fights. I won't end this in a negative way, so here is a toast to boxing and the super fights it will deliver this year.