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Errol Spence: I’ll take Terence Crawford’s belt

Errol Spence Jr Terence Crawford

By Chris Williams: A very confident sounding Errol Spence Jr. says he’s going to take Terence Crawford’s title from him if he beats WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn in their fight on June 9. However, Spence says he wants to clean up his side of the street first by beating all of Al Haymon and Showtime’s best welterweights.

Spence wants to beat Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman, if he ever resumes his stalled out career. Spence also has these fighters he can face: Amir Khan, Kell Brook, Andre Berto, Jessie Vargas, Victor Ortiz, Lucas Matthysse and Lamont Peterson.

Spence has so many options in comparison to Crawford. It’s just not even close. Top Rank needs to start signing talented welterweights to feed Crawford. If they’re not going to be able to match Crawford against the likes of Garcia, Thurman, Khan, Brook, Porter, and Spence in the short term, then they’re going to need to start signing some other guys.

Spence (23-0, 20 KOs) will be defending his IBF welterweight title against Carlos Ocampo (22-1, 13 KOs) on June 16 on Showtime at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. This fight is presented by Premier Boxing Champions. This is not the fight that Spence wants, but he has no choice but to take it. The International Boxing Federation ordered the 28-year-old Spence to defend against the little known Ocampo. There’s no question this is a huge step down in class for Spence from his last two fights against Lamont Peterson and Kell Brook. Spence has no choice in the matter. It’s the IBF that came up with the idea to rank Ocampo No.1 with their organization, and now they get to find out how bad of a choice it is after gets taken apart with ease on June 16 by Errol.

If Spence goes through all those guys one by one, it could take him years before he’s cleaned out the welterweight division to finally get to Crawford’s side of the street. Unfortunately, Spence is a huge welterweight, and he’s probably not going to be able to make weight for the division for too much longer before he’s forced to move up to 147. So, if Spence is going to fight Crawford, he’ll have to do it after he’s beaten the winner of the Porter vs. Garcia fight, and possibly after he defeats Thurman. Right now, there’s no way of knowing whether Thurman will ever return to the ring, because he seems to be having constant injury problems at this point in his career. Thurman might be done as a fighter. He’s already lost his WBC title, and I expect his WBA belt to be gone soon as well.

Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) is a Top Rank fighter, so it remains to be seen what he’ll be able to do as a champion. If Crawford wins the title, it’s likely he’ll end up fighting Horn three or four times, and then face some of the other Top Rank welterweights like Jose Benavidez and Konstantin Ponomarev. 30-year-old Manny Pacquiao is a Top Rank fighter, but I don’t think he’ll bother fighting Crawford. I’m sure Top Rank promoter Bob Arum would love it if Pacquiao would agree to fight Crawford, but I don’t see it ever happening.

In a perfect world, Pacquiao will destroy WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse on July 15, and then turn to Arum, who will likely be ringside for their fight, and tell the 86-year-old promoter that he wants to fight the switch-hitting, counter-punching Crawford next. I just don’t see it happening though. Crawford doesn’t have the fighting style that Pacquiao likes his opponents to have. Pacquiao prefers to fight guys that have a plodding come forward style like Antonio Margarito and Ricky Hatton. Pacquiao eats those types of guys up. Crawford is a different story. He’s a counter puncher, defensive artist and a mover. Maybe if Pacquiao was younger he’d do Arum a favor by agreeing to fight Crawford, and take it for the team to help out Top Rank. At this point, I think Pacquiao is thinking more about taking fights that are good for him and his career, and that’s why we’re seeing him fight Matthysse. Crawford is not going to get that fight.

Errol Spence has no qualms about fighting Crawford. When the time comes, Arum won’t have to ask Spence twice whether he’ll take the fight with Crawford. It’ll be Spence that’ll be asking Arum to give him the fight with Crawford. I just hope when that time comes, Arum doesn’t go into the shutdown mode and start stalling, saying that the Crawford vs. Spence fight needs to marinate. Spence can’t afford to wait 6 years for a fight against Crawford like the boxing public had to wait for the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight.

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I think it’s a given that Crawford will fight those two guys. Rematches, of course, will likely figure into the reign for Crawford as the WBO belt holder. Although Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter are both ranked in the World Boxing Organization’s top 15 right now, I don’t see either of those guys agreeing to fight Crawford. I’m not sure why the WBO ranked Garcia and Porter, because it’s so unlikely that a fight will ever be made between them and Crawford and/or Horn, who also is with Top Rank.

“Let me clean up my side of the street, [with] Al Haymon and Showtime,” Spence said to Fighthype. “Let me clean up my side of the street and then I’ll come over take their side of the block also. I’ve got a lot of fighters with Al Haymon. We got Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter. We got all these guys. We had Lamont Peterson. We had Keith Thurman. He’s doing whatever he’s doing right now. Let me clean up my block and I’ll come over and take over their block later on,”

It’s probably a good thing that Spence doesn’t fight Crawford right now. If Spence obliterates Crawford now, there won’t be any interesting fights to look forward to for the next year or two. Crawford is obviously too thin and weak to stand up to Spence, and it’s going to end badly for the Nebraska native when the fight goes down. If Top Rank boss Bob Arum has his head screwed straight, he stall in putting together the fight with Spence for as long as possible until he loses patience and moves up to 154. If Terence can beat the opposition that Arum shovels in front of him every four to six months, then he’ll create a nice little revenue stream for Top Rank. I wouldn’t be surprised if Arum starts selling all of Crawford’s matches on ESPN PPV platform in the near future. There’s money to be made if Arum can make Terence into a big star, but that’ll require better opposition. The problem with that is fewer boxing fans will see Crawford’s fights, because a lot of fans are going to be resistant to the idea of paying to see Crawford fight guys like Ponomarev, Jeff Horn [three or four times] and Jose Benavidez. Rushing Terence into PPV will limit his growth in my opinion. Matching Crawford against weak opposition will also hurt his potential.

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”All these guys, Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, they turned pro in 2008,” Spence said. ”I turned pro in 2012. I feel like they had a longer road than me. For them to be in the same position as I am, it’s surprising. I did have a long layoff with the Kell Brook situation. Now it’s my time to shine,” Spence said.

Crawford has accomplished a lot in terms of winning world titles since he turned pro in 2008. He’s been a world champion since 2014. It took Top Rank six years before they got Crawford his first world title shot in March 2014 against WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns, who he beat by a 12 round unanimous decision. In comparison, it took Spence’s management five years to get him a world title shot against IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook in May 2017 in Sheffield, England. Spence stopped Brook in the 11th round.

”When I become the undisputed champion of the world (at 147), then I’ll move up to 154,” Spence said. ”If Crawford does get the belt from Jeff Horn, I’ll come take that belt too. I want to be the undisputed champion of the world,” Spence said.

Spence will be fighting the winner of this summer’s fight between Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia for the WBC 147 lb. title. Getting that fight will be easy compared to Spence getting a shot at Keith Thurman’s WBA title. When Thurman does come back, he’ll likely want a soft opponent he can beat up on without blowing out his surgically repaired elbow. When Thurman does step it up against highly ranked fighters, he’ll take on Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter in rematches. There’s a lot of interest from the boxing public in seeing them fight Thurman. Since Thurman already proved that he could beat Garcia and Porter, he won’t be shy about fighting them again as would in facing Spence, who he seems to want to have nothing to do with right now.

“I wouldn’t say I have one skill that sticks out the most in my arsenal,” Spence said. ”I’m a balanced boxer who can do everything. I can jab, throw a combo and show strong defense. I balance all of the attributes you need in the ring and that’s what makes me a great boxer,” Spence said.

The fact that Spence can do so many things with his offense is a major reason why he’s all wrong for Crawford. If you look at Crawford’s fights, he likes to stay on the outside and jab a lot of the time. At 140, Crawford was able to get away with this because he was usually the taller, stronger, quicker, heavier and longer-armed fighter than his opponents. But against Spence, Crawford will be shorter, thinner, and weaker and his reach will be 2” inches shorter. Spence is simply the bigger and stronger fighter than Thurman. Crawford won’t be able to get over on size alone against Spence, because he’ll be smaller. If Crawford is going to beat Spence, he’s going to have to figure out another way of doing it, because he won’t be the weight bully against him.

“We’re working hard on our game plan and sharpening our skills in camp to make sure I’m the best version of myself when I step into the ring against Ocampo,” Spence said.

The only thing that Spence has to do for him to beat Ocampo is to make sure he goes after him right away to put the pressure on him. Ocampo will last as long as Spence wants him to. If Spence lets him hand around like he did in his last fight against Lamont Peterson, then the fight could make it into the second half of the contest before it ends. If Spence pressures Ocampo, he should get him out by the 3rd.

Ocampo’s experience is limited to say the least. He’s been fighting 2nd and 3rd tier opposition in Mexico and padding his record. It’s unclear what went into the IBF’s decision-making in selecting Ocampo as their No.1 contender at 147. Sometimes there’s no real rhyme or reason why the sanctioning bodies select fighters to rank at No.1. It seems sometimes like they just throw a bunch of names in a hat and then blindly pull one of them out and make that fighter their mandatory. That’s the only conclusion I can come to when I see guys like Kevin Bizier, Ocampo and Jo Jo Dan ranked No.1 by the IBF.

Crawford has got to make sure he doesn’t get walked down beaten up in his upcoming fight against WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) on June 9 on ESPN at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Horn has the size and the rugged fighting style to give Crawford a lot of problems in this fight. Crawford’s punching power might not be the same at 147 as it was when he was fighting at 140 against guys like Julius Indongo, Dierry Jean and Felix Diaz. Let’s face it; Crawford never fought any of the good light welterweights during his three years in the weight class.

From 2015 to 2017, Crawford beat these fighters:

• Dierry Jean

• Henry Lundy

• Thomas Dulorme

• John Molina Jr.

• Felix Diaz

• Julius Indongo

• Viktor Postol

Those are a mix of B and C level light welterweight. Those fighters would be beaten by all of the top fighters in the 140lb division today. If you plug these fighters in and have them fight the same guys Crawford fought, you’d have the same results as he did:

• Kiryl Relikh

• Jose Ramirez

• Regis Prograis

• Sergey Lipinets

• Ivan Baranchyk

• Josh Taylor

• Terry Flanagan

• Alex Saucedo

• Ryan Martin

• Adrien Broner

• Omar Figueroa Jr. [when healthy]

Crawford got out of the light welterweight division in the nick of time before he had to fight any of those guys, because I think some of them would beat him. Relikh, Josh Taylor, Martin, Figueroa Jr., Prograis and Lipinets would all be major threats to Crawford. I think Prograis flat out beats Crawford by a knockout.

If Crawford beats Horn to win the WBO title, he needs to start calling out Spence right away, because that’s the fight that will make or break his career. Until Crawford fights Spence, he’s going to be stuck in the same place, fighting guys like Horn, Benavidez and Ponomarev in fights that the boxing public has no interest in seeing. Crawford needs a big win over a star like Spence to take his career to the next level, because beating the obscure guys hasn’t done anything to increase his popularity with the casual boxing fans. It’s hard to believe that Crawford unified the light welterweight recently, because his popularity didn’t increase in a real way.

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