An ordinarily routine back-and-forth argument between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford in the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City in 2018 would go on to have enormous significance for boxing fans all around the world.
On that November evening nearly five years ago, a battle between two of boxing’s top competitors was ready to happen, but for a number of reasons since then, the fight hasn’t taken place. Instead, as a number of factors stopped a bout from happening, fans had to make do with watching Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) and Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs) spar with one another explosive words outside the ring for years.
It’s unusual for two top boxers, like Spence and Crawford, to be unbeaten, to compete at the same weight at the same time. In their peak and among the best athletes pound for pound. But boxing politics got in the way. Spence worked for PBC, a promotional company, and Crawford was with Top Rank, two businesses that don’t often do business together.
Last September, it finally appeared that an agreement might be reached, but negotiations broke down just before the deadline. For a summer fight against former unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman, Spence appeared set to step up to 154 pounds, maybe permanently preventing Crawford and Crawford from facing off at the top of the division.
Thankfully, the warriors intervened on their own. With a lengthy phone call in March, Crawford claims he moved the fight discussions along and started the process for what is perhaps the most important boxing contest since Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
The 33-year-old Spence stated, “I knew I had to make it happen,” during his media workout last week in Las Vegas. Everyone demanded this, so here it is. In the welterweight division and in boxing, we must establish the man’s identity. The boxing world’s top boxer will emerge from this contest. Period.”
No, Spence and Crawford won’t come close to surpassing the staggering earnings made by Mayweather and Pacquiao, records that still stand today, but unlike those two all-time greats, Spence and Crawford, both 35, may be reaching their athletic peak.
On Saturday in Las Vegas, they will face off in the ring with their perfect records intact and all four major welterweight belts on the line. For welterweight supremacy, if not pound-for-pound supremacy as well, Spence, who now owns the WBC, WBA, and IBF championships, will square off against Crawford, the WBO champion. Regardless of weight, Spence is ranked No. 4 on ESPN’s ranking of boxers, with Crawford at the top.