Friday, July 28, 2023

Spence-Crawford: Boxing's Latest SuperFight For Welterweight Supremacy

Boxing's 147lb. Welterweight division has historically been one of the sport's most glamorous divisions full of historic battles featuring some of its biggest stars. Sometimes the term "SuperFight," which this observer only uses when he feels it is truly warranted and not as a mere term for the sole purpose of hype, not only features the top stars in the sport, but also has the rare distinction of bringing resolution to a division such as determining an undisputed world champion. Such a fight will take place on Saturday, July 29th as the two undefeated world champions of the division Errol Spence and Terence Crawford will finally meet to determine the first Undisputed Welterweight champion of the world since 1985 and the first since the inception of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) in 1989. A fight that can be seen on Showtime Pay-Per-View here in the United States

Quite frankly, one could write a column discussing why it has taken thirty-eight years for the Welterweight division to reach this milestone. For historical reference, in December 1985 Donald Curry scored a brutal second round knockout of Milton McCrory to unify the crowns of the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), and International Boxing Federation (IBF). While the title remained undisputed for a time, by 1988, the championship was broken up due largely to the politics that be in the sport, but despite numerous unification bouts having taken place over the last thirty-eight years where portions of the World Welterweight championship were at stake, things could not seem to make it to the finish line to determine an undisputed champion.

Although this observer could spend all day and night talking about the ills of the politics that be in the sport that all too often stand in the way of such progress, it is truly a rarity when two undefeated world champions take a gamble like this for all the marbles. Despite the efforts of some to prevent a fight between Spence and Crawford from happening for whatever interests there may have been, this is an even more rare circumstance where the fight was largely made by the fighters themselves rather than gamesmanship between rival promoters and/or TV and digital streaming networks.

In terms of how the fight might shape up once the fighters are in the ring at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV, it is truly an interesting fight between two fighters that seem evenly matched. Both can box and both have the capability to end a fight suddenly with punching power should the opportunity arise. What this encounter might come down to may center on the subject of activity.

The activity in terms of recent time in competition between the two fighters. In that aspect, it is Crawford who holds the edge. Despite being the longest reigning world champion in the Welterweight division, Errol Spence has fought only once in the last three years. While this could be attributed to both injuries he suffered in a horrific car accident in 2019 as well as a retina injury, which caused him to pull out of a scheduled title defense against Manny Pacquiao in August 2021, it may also be attributable to the current state of the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of promoters, which Spence has fought under for the majority of his career, in that many fighters who have fought under the PBC banner have struggled to get fights on a consistent basis.

Whether it is the injuries he suffered, the state of the PBC, or a combination of all three, Spence is at a disadvantage when it comes to activity as Crawford has averaged one fight per year in the last three years. While not a significant difference in activity, it is important to keep in mind that both due to the politics that be in the sport as well as the economics of it that it is not uncommon for world champions and other fighters on the top level of the sport to average between one and two fights per year depending on what the circumstances might be at a given time. 

It would not surprise this observer however, to see Crawford attempt to apply pressure on Spence from the outset. While both fighters have the capability to end a fight quickly should the opportunity arise and as Crawford demonstrated in his last defense of his WBO crown with a one punch knockout of European Welterweight champion David Avanesyan last December, Crawford has also shown the ability to gradually break opponents down with consistent pressure as well as the ability to swarm his opponents with offense. When he has been able to be active on a consistent basis, Errol Spence has many of the same attributes as Crawford, but the element that Spence has not faced both due to his inactivity as well as against his most recent opponents, has been a fighter that is going to apply the type of pressure that Crawford likely will in this fight.

It will therefore be interesting to see how Spence will respond to being in a fight where he might not be able to dictate the ebb and flow of it and will be under circumstances where he will have to adapt for the first time in a significant period of his career. At least on paper, the comparison between the two fighters seems to tip in favor of Crawford going into this fight when the recent histories of the two as well as the element of Spence having not faced a fighter that will implement the type of pressure that Crawford will attempt are factored into the equation.

Nevertheless, when two undefeated world champions enter the ring with an undisputed world championship on the line there is always the element of suspense because even the most knowledgeable fan, or the most respected members of media who cover the sport, like yours truly, are not quite sure what will happen. Boxing history is filled with so many memorable classic encounters not just in regard to the Welterweight division, but in the entire sport that were thought of as fights that elevated Boxing up to a higher level, whether that level be in terms of prestige or one of exposure that opened the sport up to new eyes that have not previously seen the sport before. While it remains to be seen what this fight will do in regard to exposure with yet another expensive pay-per-view price tag of $84.99 attached, one can only hope that at the very least, this fight will be free from any controversy in the ring and free from any headaches for consumers that have been all too often seeking refunds after events like this due to glitches of the pay-per-view broadcast both on traditional pay-TV as well as streaming providers. It is my hope, despite all the ills in the sport including, but not limited to the pay-per-view model, that at least for one evening the sport of Boxing will get a boost from a marquee event that frankly is long overdue.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

Spence vs. Crawford takes place on Saturday, July 29th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The fight and a three fight undercard can be seen here in the United States on Showtime Pay-Per-View beginning at 8PM ET/5PM PT and will be available through the Showtime app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices/Smart TVs as well as the app and traditional cable/satellite providers for $84.99. To order through Showtime to access the event through the Showtime app please visit: Or visit or contact your cable/satellite provider for ordering information. 

(*Card and Start time subject to change*)

(*Check your local listings internationally.*)

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