Dibella: Spence-Thurman will happen before Spence-Crawford
By Chris Williams: Promoter Lou Dibella says a fight between IBF welterweight champion Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence (23-0, 20 KOs) and WBA/WBC champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman (28-0, 20 KOs) is more likely to happen before we see a fight between Spence and Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs).
The main reason for that is Crawford is with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who is investing his own money in having his fighters from his stable fight on ESPN. With Arum putting his own money in having his guys fight on ESPN, it’s more likely that he’s going to want to have his own fighters on the network rather than sharing by having them fight a non-Top Rank promoted fighter like Spence.
“Unification fights trumps mandatory’s and money trumps everything,” promoter Lou Dibella said in commenting on Thurman being able to fight Spence in 2018 if he wanted to. “I think we’ll see a Spence-Thurman fight before we see Spence-Crawford. It’s easier to make. [Bob] Arum is out there with ESPN doing his thing. He’s investing his own money. And it’s not surprising that if he’s investing his own money, he’s going to use it on his own guys. I don’t think anyone will start negotiations for any of those fights soon. I think they’re more likely down the line,” Dibella said in talking about the Spence vs. Crawford fight.
A fight between Spence and Crawford is going to happen in the future, but only after Crawford has exhausted all the fights that he 86-year-old Arum has for him in his Top Rank stable. It could take a couple of years for Arum to go through all of the fighters from his stable. Hopefully, Arum doesn’t get stuck on the rematch cycle that he’s had a habit of doing. The boxing fans aren’t going to get too excited at seeing Crawford fight Jeff Horn 3 to 5 times. The same goes for Crawford and Manny Pacquiao.
Arum needs to realize that boxing fans don’t like to see retread fights. They want to see new blood brought in, and unfortunately we’ve seen Arum make too many rematches when it comes to Pacquiao. Arum will need to match Crawford against the top fighters from outside of his Top Rank stable like Spence sooner or later for him to become popular. Boxing public will only be able to stomach watching Crawford fight the likes of Jeff Horn, Manny Pacquiao and Konstantin Ponomarev so many times before they grow bored of those dull fights and expect Top Rank to match Crawford against good fighters that are relevant.
“If he keeps doing what he did tonight, he’s going to do it himself,” Dibella said about Spence possibly becoming a big start without needing to fight Keith Thurman, Terence Crawford or Danny Garcia. “There are a lot of things about him that reminds me of [Sugar] Ray Leonard. You also have the ability of Errol to move around weight classes. I don’t think Errol would turn down a challenge at 154. There are plenty of good fights to be made. I think Keith [Thurman] knows he won’t have an easy night against Errol Spence. He’s hard to deal with,” said Dibella.
There’s no one at 154 for Spence to fight other than Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd. Spence is friends with Charlo, so that leaves him out of the equation. Lara probably isn’t popular enough for Spence to get much for beating him. Lara is more of a negative runner type of fighter. Hurd would be a good fight for Spence if he doesn’t get beaten first by Lara in their unification fight in 2018.
Spence, 27, may need to do it himself, as Dibella states, in talking about him possibly needing to become a star without the help of him fighting Keith Thurman or Terence Crawford. If those fights can’t get made, then Spence will have to fight the best possible guys he can each time out. Thurman says he can’t fight Spence in 2018 because he has mandatory defenses that he needs to get out of the way first, but Dibella says that’s not the case. The unification fights come before mandatory defenses, which means that if the 28-year-old Thurman can face Spence if he wants in 2018. Of course, if Thurman doesn’t want to face Spence, then he can make an excuse about needing to face his mandatory challenger Shawn Porter and needing to face Danny Garcia in a rematch. That’s what we’re going to see. Thurman has already gone on record saying that he won’t fight Spence in 2018. He says the earliest the fight can happen is in 2019.
“All he’s got to do is keep beating people’s [backsides] like he’s been doing each fight out there,” said Dibella. “Just do what you’re supposed to do. If you’re exciting enough in the ring and you’re destroying top level opposition, you’re going to be a star. 5 million people saw him on network television. 12,000 people were here tonight,” Dibella said.
Technically, Dibella is correct about Spence just needing to keep winning impressively against the best possible contenders willing to face him for him to eventually become a star of sorts. But it’s going to take a lot longer for Spence to achieve stardom without him fighting the most popular fighters at 147 like Thurman, Danny Garcia and Crawford. Moreover, without Spence fighting the guys, he might not ever get to the level where he makes the jump to pay-per-view. Look at middleweight champion Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin. He’s been fighting in the U.S since 2012, and it was only last September that he fought a huge name in Saul Canelo Alvarez. All before that, Golovkin hadn’t been able to sell his fights on PPV despite facing and beating impressively the best possible opponents.
Golovkin has been fighting in the U.S and looking great for 5 years. If a fighter like Golovkin has been unable to become a PPV attraction without fighting a big name, then Spence likely won’t be able to increase his popularity enough to become a PPV star either if he can’t get the best guys to face him like Crawford, Thurman, Garcia, Amir Khan and Shawn Porter. Spence needs all those guys for him to build a big enough fan base to get the boxing public to begin to pay to see him fight.