IF it didn’t happen pre-car crash, it’s unlikely Errol Spence Jnr’s welterweight unification fight with Terence Crawford is going to happen just months into his recovery.
That’s the message from Derrick James, Spence’s trainer, who stresses his man is on the mend and showing signs of making a complete recovery but, equally, wants us all to know the timing of a Crawford fight isn’t great.
It’s not great, he says, for two reasons: firstly, because Spence still needs to get back to full health and, secondly, because the fight, a potential pay-per-view blockbuster, is one destined to only become bigger in time.
“His reaction time, punching power and defence is good,” James told FightHype when talking about Spence, the current IBF welterweight champion. “He’s the same, he’s just not in shape. We’ll see. Only a fight will tell.
“It’s [Spence vs. Crawford] a dumb fight right now. It doesn’t make money, so why would we make the fight? You can’t base a fight on boxing fans. Errol got 500 to 600,000. [buys]. What did Terence have? Thirty thousand? You don’t know what he [Errol] got. I’m saying 600,000. Is that enough to make a fight? Sixty thousand and 600,000 buys?
“Where’s the money going to come from? Add that up. Errol makes $20 million and Terence $15 million. So that’s $35 [million]. So you think two networks are going to pay that money? It’s a hypothetical fight, and it’s a dream fight, right? Promoters are in the business to make money. They are not in the business to not make money. A fight that big and of that magnitude, they want to make money.”
Though there are bigger stars in the sport than Spence and Crawford, and though it is true both will see their respective profiles enhance in the coming years, we are not talking about a couple of nonentities with non-existent fanbases here. Conversely, Crawford remains a popular figure in his home city of Omaha, Nebraska, and Spence, too, is drawing big crowds in Dallas. As champions, therefore, and as brilliant athletes with pound-for-pound talent, both possess pulling power.
“We sold 48,000 seats at Cowboys stadium. What country does he [Crawford] bring? It has to make sense,” James said. “Terence has to build his profile by building, building and building.
“Would Terence Crawford beat the Shawn Porter that just fought Errol Spence? It’s a good question. I don’t know. I just think that would raise his profile win or lose. Just think about it. How many times has Shawn Porter lost? Three times? It’s not about the record. It’s about whether you performed to the best of your ability.
“Shawn Porter went out every time and fought and lost a close decision but fought to the best of his ability. If they really liked Terence, they’d buy his pay-per-view fights, and that’s the only way they raise his profile. But if they like him so much, they’d buy his fights.
“Every time he’s fought on pay-per-view, how have his numbers been? It’s not about what you do at home. It’s about what you do everywhere else. If they really wanted to see Terence Crawford fight Errol Spence, they’d buy his fights when he fights.
“If they really wanted the [Spence vs. Crawford] fight, then they’d buy his fights. They lost money when he fought Amir Khan. They’re not buying his fights. That’s the truth, and it’s not a lie. I’d love to see Errol Spence and Terence Crawford fight.”
And it is there, in that final line, Derrick James speaks for us all.
After some initial excitement at the prospect of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury colliding this summer in an all-British world heavyweight title showdown, normal service has this week been resumed.
Deontay Wilder, as is his right, and as expected, has triggered a clause in his contract to secure a rematch against Fury, while Joshua, under rules imposed by the IBF, is going to defend his IBF heavyweight title against Kubrat Pulev.
It is thought these fights will take place in July and June respectively, which means Eddie Hearn, the man responsible for promoting Joshua vs. Pulev, is eager for Joshua and Fury to put a plan in place for them to meet later in the year – providing of course both come through their summer fights unscathed.
“The great thing is that [Fury vs Wilder 3] is in July and we [Joshua] box in June,” Hearn told Sky Sports. “Now our intention, and conversations are ongoing, is to finalise the Fury vs Joshua fight for December of this year.”
Whether this is feasible or not remains to be seen. But if there’s one thing we know now, thanks to the exploits of first Andy Ruiz Jnr and then Tyson Fury, it is that nothing can be taken for granted in the heavyweight division and that unification plans are only ever one wild swing away from falling apart entirely.
You’ve messed this thing up once, guys. Let’s not make the same mistakes again.