By Jack Tiernan: IBF/WBA/WBC welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr has been given approval by the WBA to face his WBC mandatory challenger Keith Thurman next. Spence holds the WBA ‘Super World’ 147-lb title in addition to his IBF & WBC belts.
According to Fightnews, the winner of the Spence vs. Thurman fight must face the WBA-ordered winner between ‘regular’ 147-lb champion Eimantas Stanionis and Vergil Ortiz Jr bout. The Spence-Thurman winner will fight the Stanionis-Ortiz victor within 180 days.
That move is part of the World Boxing Association’s efforts to reduce the number of champions they have.
Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) has been quiet about his intentions toward his next fight.
Although the WBC ordered Spence to defend against former WBA/WBC 147-lb champion Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) at the governing bodies’ recent convention in Mexico, he hasn’t said whether he’ll agree to honor the order.
The reason why some people question whether Spence will face Thurman is that in the past, he’s said that he won’t fight him because he didn’t want to give him a title shot earlier in his career.
Spence has been holding a grudge and hasn’t wanted to take the high road and bury the hatchet. If Spence doesn’t fight Thurman, his options are less appealing in terms of a big-money fight.
If Spence refuses to face Thurman, he’ll be stripped of his WBC title. So instead of Spence possibly facing WBO champion Terence Crawford for the undisputed championship at 147 next year, it would be for three belts.
It would still be an excellent fight, but with less on the line than if Spence defended against his WBC mandatory Thurman. Assuming Spence is stripped of his WBC belt for failing to defend against Thurman, the belt would be fought over by Keith and either #3 Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis or #4 Yordenis Ugas.
It would be a nightmare for Thurman to fight ‘Boots’ Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs) because he’s a huge puncher, young, not hugely popular, and near the prime of his career. The money wouldn’t be massive for Thurman fighting Ennis or Ugas.
If Spence chooses not to fight Thurman, it would indicate that he’d given up on the 147-lb division and will move up to 154 to go after the belts in that weight class.