Will Crawford and Spence meet in the middle of the road?

A search for the road to Spence versus Crawford might come back ‘not found’ – even in 2019

This weekend we watched Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (34-0-0) score a destructive twelfth round knockout over a gimpy, but game Jose Benavidez (27-1-0).  During the post fight interview when asked who he wanted to fight next, Crawford said “all of them” without specifically mentioning anybody. But the fight we all want to see is Errol Spence Jr. vs Terence Crawford.

Spence has compared their situations to a thoroughfare where both fighters must beautify their respective sides before meeting in the middle. Bob Arum, Crawford’s promoter, has said he’ll make the fight when it can sell more pay per views than Canelo Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara and Gennady Golovkin vs. David Lemieux combined.

Neither fighter is as popular as Canelo or GGG were when they headlined those PPV cards. And with Bob’s recent announcement that he has no interest in Crawford fighting WBC Champion Shawn Porter or former WBC champion Danny Garcia he makes it clear that it’s Spence or bust for Bud Crawford. In the meantime, if that fight doesn’t happen Bud’s options are either ‘Mean Machine’ Egidijus Kavaliauskas or Alexander Besputin.

Here is where we run into the business side of boxing that possibly keeps this fight from happening. If you map out Spence’s career path over the next two years you’ll see a path to becoming the best Welterweight, and unified champion in the division without crossing paths with Crawford. On his side of the street he has WBC champion Shawn Porter, WBA champion Keith Thurman, and former Junior Welterweight and Welterweight champion Danny Garcia. And now with the edition of Manny Pacquiao to PBC, that gives Spence even more incentive to beautify his side of the street before meeting Crawford in the middle. In between those fights he can fight Besputin-type fighters in Yordenis Ugas and Luis Collazo.

IBF Welterweight champion Errol Spence, Jr. at Barclays Center back in January 2018. Photo courtesy of Amanda Westcott/Showtime

Arum has said he’ll speak with Spence’s people to come together and do a joint PPV with ESPN and Showtime or Fox Broadcasting, networks where Spence fights. Now remember, we’re looking at this from a business perspective because boxing is a business first and foremost. Why would Al Haymon do Arum a favor by doing a PPV with Spence-Crawford when he can do a PPV with Spence-Thurman, Spence-Porter or Spence-Pacquiao without the hassle of getting two competing networks to agree to a fight that very well may not even sell 200k PPV’s?

At one point I was optimistic about seeing this fight, but with PBC’s new deal with Fox Broadcasting their priority is to make Spence the biggest star possible, and frankly they have enough on their side of the street (at 147 and 154) that they won’t need Crawford to accomplish that goal. Making a Spence-Crawford fight would be doing Bob Arum a favor.

It’s the fight boxing fans want and deserve to see. But the more I look at it from a business perspective the less likely I think it’ll happen.

After drafting this article I noticed Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, is thinking along the same line. Spence has huge fights in front of him on his side of the street, he doesn’t need Crawford for the foreseeable future.

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

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