Stephen A. Smith echoed many us when he said, bless him, when he kicked off the Friday ESPN “First Take” boxing segment thusly: “I have been waiting for years for this right now, joining me now are two of the best fighters on planet earth.
“Weltewerweight champion Terence Crawford, and Errol Spence Jr, they've announced that they'll fight one another for the undisputed welterweight crown, July 29th in Las Vegas, Errol Spence Jr Terence Crawford, welcome to First Take.”
Props to Stephen A. Smith who but of course draws heat and focused jeeering for some of his over-steps…or just the hyper-caffeinated energy which is too overwhelming in more than minor doses to some of us.
He got right to a solid point: What the hell took y'all so long to get this made? He put that to Spence, the 33 year old Texan who owns a 28-0, 22 KOs mark.
His southern charm kicked in. “I mean, great things take time,” he drawled. Crawford (age 35; 39-0, 30 KOs) looked hard at the camera facing him (this was done via remote) and squinted, then arched a bemused brow. “Both were going through some negotiations, but we here now.”
That is a totally reasonable response. Hey, maybe Spence, who has lived hard and survived some things is into some spiritual wisdom, of the benefits of keeping one's mind on the present moment. “I feel like this is the best welterweight fight of the past 40 years,” Spence continued.
Yes, he's become low key skilled putting on that promoter cap. Of course, it helps when the chatter isn't ersatz. “This is the fight of the decade, the best versus the best.”
Crawford went the other route, again, understandably. “It's been very difficult,” he admitted to Smith, when asked about that beyond-lengthy to-get-to-here process. He too moved into the positive part of the matter.
“It's been frustrating, but I'm excited,” said the Nebraskan, looking relaxed and, indeed, content. “I'm gonna show the world why I'm the best fighter on the planet, an everybody need to tune in July 29th, and watch me and Errol Spence put on a tremendous show.”
Crawford, too, is getting more natural at putting that marketing plug in there.
The Texas boxer declared he's a man of his word, that when they crossed paths in Oklahoma, what he told Crawford held true. He'd not go up to 154, he said, he'd be sticking arounf 147 long enough to see this Big One through.
Spence implied that he's sat out a year because he was wanting to make this Crawford fight, which proved so difficult. BTW, a book could be written about WHY this one took so long to make, pretty sure some of the deeper reasoning hasn't been acknowledged and shared.
“I stuck to my guns,” he said, “and I was like, ‘I'm not fighting until I fight Terence Crawford,' so my team got it going.”
Reminder That Fighters Can Force The Fights They Truly Want
That right there made me think of my pal Ron Borges, who has said for many moons that it's the fighters, man. The fighters get to decide, and if and when they REALLY want to face a rival, they can/should demand that fight gets booked.
Crawford locked in and listened then as Spence told Stephen A. Smith why he thinks he beats Terence on July 29. He named his jab, his strength, his body work–all that adds up to him being the “better fighter” and will lead to triumph.
Bud then had a turn. He is happy we are here, he said, and happy that Spence lived up to his word. The last belt is the toughest to get, the WBC 147 champ warned the Texan. “I'm so excited, I can't wait, I can't wait,” said a smiling Crawford.
Stephen A. Smith Asks Bud About Legacy
And, Stephen A. Smith asked: is this Spence fight a must win for Bud, to cement his legacy properly? “It's always like that,” the Nebraskan said, dodging a bit, and seeking to burnish his lengthy resume.
“This is the biggest fight in boxing in decades,” he asserted, admitting he'd like to win “spectacular fashion.”
He grinned harder, “I'm ready to go next week.”
History came up, properly. Stephen A. Smith brought up welterweight bouts of note: Hearns v Leonard, Hearns vs Duran, Cuevas v Hearns, Arguello v Pryor. “And this fight up there with all of them,” Spence interjected.
“Definitely,” said Crawford.
What are we gonna see July 29? Spence got the last word in on Stephen A. Smith, least, until fight night: “The proof is in the pudding,” Spence drawled.
“You see Terence Crawford, you see his body of work, you see my body of work when I get in the ring. Yeah, everybody already know, as soon as I get in the ring, I'm stepping, and I expect him to step, too, we're gonna put on a great show, a great performance.”