News broke from ESPN this afternoon that the fight between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford is in jeopardy.
In the era of social media, especially within boxing, rumors or industry whispers have dramatically increased, elevating journalists like Mike Coppinger to levels where they work for industry heavyweights. There is nothing wrong with it, and I'm on the side of the conversation that it has grown the sport differently, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that when you deal with big names in the sport, the contracts get complicated, and sometimes, things that are verbally agreed to don't materialize.
Insert the biggest undisputed welterweight fight in a very long time between unified champion Errol Spence Jr. (28-0) and WBO champion Terence Crawford (38-0). This has been labeled “THE Fight” for quite some time, and many felt we would never get it as both men were on the “opposite side of the street.” This illustration by FightPosium perfectly describes what it was like from a fan's perspective and the frustration that we wouldn't see the fight take place.
— fightposium – comic book illustrator (@fightposium) May 11, 2019
But even being on the “opposite side of the street,” there was hope that the two promoters (Bob Arum & Al Haymon) could make it happen as Arum did many years ago with his bitter rival Don King for the Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard fight. But Arum mentioned on many different occasions while Crawford was under the Top Rank banner that if the fight were this big pot of money, it would have already been made. I agree although many fight fans don't want to hear it. The truth is, outside of boxing, both men don't have the drawing power which will help cover the massive guaranteed purses they would demand. Even recently, Arum spoke to Lance Pugmire from FightHype to still suggest that some creativity must be implemented if there was a desire to make that fight.
Even with all that out there, social media was thrown into a frenzy when Mike Coppinger put out a story on ESPN saying that both men “agree to terms for potential Nov. 19 megafight”. This was something that veteran boxing journalist Dan Rafael also tweeted out, which further pushed the topic amongst the Twittersphere. Everyone started to search for flights and look for hotels as no one in boxing would want to miss this one. But some were still hesitant as we had seen this movie before, especially with Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, where they had “agreed” to fight a few years back but never actually made it into the ring. At times we can have a short memory, but something as high profile as Spence Jr and Crawford takes you on a trip back into memory lane, causing some reservations about the fight actually happening.
Fast forward to a few days ago when Steve Kim tweeted that news of a fight not being made was going to make fans very upset. He didn't go into specifics, but we all knew what he was referring to. This afternoon, Coppinger again sent shock waves through the industry, saying that the fight was at “risk over dispute over contract details.” Both purists and casual fans of the sport all put their heads down and just shook it because, once again, boxing has found a way to kick it into the stands. One fan who causally watches it said to me, “this is why I hate boxing,”; a statement more than likely equally shared amongst many.
If no Spence Jr. vs. Crawford, then what is next for both men?
Let's start with the WBO champion Crawford who hasn't fought since November 2021, which was against now retired Shawn Porter. The WBO could enforce a mandatory shot against the number one contender, Vergil Ortiz Jr (16-0). The twenty-four-year-old undefeated fighter from Dallas, TX, is with Golden Boy/DAZN, and they wouldn't mind putting that fight together and could meet the financial demands of the thirty-five-year-old Crawford since Ortiz Jr. wouldn't demand as big of a purse as a Spence Jr. would. I can really see this fight happening, and it would certainly be intriguing to see if the young gunn is truly as ready as he thinks he is. I don't know if it can make it before the end of the year, but if it does, more than likely, it'll be a December fight but more than likely early January.
For the unified champ Spence Jr., it's either facing the WBA regular champion Eimantas Stanionis (12-0), who has taken step aside money already for previous fights, or former champ Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-1). The Thurman option would be interesting as Spence Jr. vowed never to give him a shot as Thurman refused to when the shoe was on the other foot many years ago. I don't see that happening unless Al Haymon sweetens the pot enough for Spence Jr. to take that fight. The Stanionis fight makes more sense if the WBA sticks to their guns, but we all know they are good for making things up on the fly.
Will we ever see Spence Jr. vs. Crawford?
That is the million-dollar question, or should I say the twenty or so million one. It's hard to say, as contract negotiations between those two fighters have to be complicated. They've been working on it for a while now, and most would say that it will never get done if it hasn't been signed by now. I could agree with that, but then again, all of this could be a business tactic for one side to bend more than the other to get this thing signed. At this point, either tell us it's off or announce that a press conference is scheduled for a future date. Outside of that, save all of the “agreed upon” for another occasion, as everyone is at a point of exhaustion regarding these two great fighters meeting in the ring.