By Jeff Aranow: After finally getting his hands on the IBF welterweight title, Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) is now eager to go after the WBA/WBC 147 lb. titles in possession of champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs).
Spence wants the fight against Thurman in the worst way. Spence has wanted a fight against Thurman since 2014. Thurman wasn’t willing to fight him back then, and he still doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to make the fight now that Spence is a world champion.
Thurman, 28, is out of action right now with an elbow problem from his fight against Danny Garcia last March. Thurman has already had surgery, and he had planned on returning to the ring in late 2017. It’s now looking like Thurman won’t be back in action until 2018. He might not be ready to take a dangerous fight against Spence, 27, when he does get back in action.
If Thurman doesn’t opt to take a voluntary defense, he’ll very likely defend his titles against either Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter. Garcia would be the fight that would draw more attention from the boxing world, and it’s the more winnable fight for Thurman.
“Right now I’m trying to get a fight in before Keith Thurman, because he’s supposed to be injured right now. He won’t come back until early 2018 and I’m not going to wait that long,” said Spence to skysports.com.
Spence will be looking to make a voluntary defense against a top 15 contender. He hasn’t dropped any hints about who he expects to be fighting. He says he’s going to leave it up to his management to find a suitable contender for him to fight. It could be a veteran contender/ex-world champion or one of the many obscure contenders that the casual boxing fans have never heard of before. Spence wants to fight in October or November. The fight will likely be televised on Premier Boxing Champions.
“Hopefully, I can fight before the year is over with and then fight him later next year,” said Spence.
Spence shouldn’t assume that it’ll be Thurman that he winds up facing next year. Thurman barely beat Danny Garcia in his last fight in winning a 12 round split decision. As I already mentioned, Porter fought Thurman in a close fight in June of 2016, losing a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 115-113, 115-113 and 115-113. Thurman is putting a lot of weight on in between fights, and we’re starting to see how that’s impacting his performances inside the ring.
Thurman gassed out after 6 rounds against Danny Garcia, and he also had problems with the fast pace that Porter set in their fight last year. Thurman could wear down and lose his titles in his next fight if he faces Garcia or Porter again. Those guys know how to beat Thurman now by putting pressure on him and forcing him to fight hard for the full 12 rounds. The trick to beating Thurman is to try and win at least 3 of the first 6 rounds. By going into the second half of the contest knotted up at 3-3, it increases the chance of beating Thurman due to him likely fading in the last 6 rounds,
“Even when I was 15 and 0, I was asking for that fight. It’s a fight I’ve wanted for a long time and that’s my dream fight right now,” said Spence.
If Spence can beat Thurman to win his WBA and WBC 147 lb. titles, then that would leave only WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn as the last remaining belt holder in the division for him to beat. However, getting a unification fight against the 29-year-old Horn may prove to be difficult, as he’s co-promoted by Top Rank. They likely will be saving Horn to have him eventually fight Top Rank fighter Terence Crawford once he moves up to 147 in 2017 or 2018.
Having Horn defend against Crawford instead of Spence means the World Boxing Organization welterweight title stays at home within the Top Rank family. The WBO belt has been largely in the possession of Top Rank fighters for the past 12 year dating back to 2005. It’s hard to believe the WBO strap has been held largely by one promotional company for the last 12 years. For that reason, it’s unlikely that Top Rank will put Horn in a unification fight against Spence. Instead, we’ll almost surely see Horn defending his WBO title against the Top Rank promoted Crawford in the near future. Crawford would have an excellent chance of beating Horn.
If Spence is still a champion by that point, Top Rank might be willing to match Crawford against him in a unification fight. They would need to take some calculated risks with the soon to be 30-year-old Crawford in order to turn him into a star in the boxing world. Matching Crawford against fighters like Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr. and Viktor Postol isn’t going to turn him into a star. Crawford needs to beat the more popular fighters like Spence and Thurman for him to take his career to the next level.
Spence won the IBF welterweight title in May in beat Kell Brook by an 11th round knockout win in front of his own British boxing fans at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England. Brook quit in the 11th round after suffering an eye injury. Spence was having a lot of problems with Brook in the first 6 rounds before he suffered the eye in jury in round 7. There’s no telling whether Spence would have won the fight if not for the injury Brook suffered.
Brook was the faster fighter of the two, and he was clearly in the least going into the second half of the fight. The boxing fans will never know for sure if Brook could have won that fight, because the injury he suffered prevented the fans from finding out that the better fighter is of the two. If Brook is able to turn his career around at 154 and remain injury free in the next 2 to 3 years, we could possibly see a rematch between him and Spence one of these days. It’s doubtful though, since it looks like Brook’s eye problems are going to become a chronic thing for him.