Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr, Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford.
It’s the welterweight fight everyone is talking about, most are demanding, and has promoter Bob Arum calling for boycotts of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions shows if Haymon won’t allow Spence to take it.
The fight has layers of potential issues — promoters that hate each other, different TV deals, the fact that Spence has credible in-house options otherwise and Crawford does not — but Arum tells Kevin Iole that all bluster aside, he’s genuinely serious about making the fight.
“Look, no bullshit, I’m all in. We’ll do 50-50 and split the TV with both ESPN and Fox, or whoever they want to use. Do it like we did for Floyd and Manny. It’s easy. We want the fight and Terence wants the fight. We are not standing in the way of this fight and we are doing everything we can to get it done. Haymon won’t even talk about it.”
Everything Arum says here is totally fair. It really is. What he’s publicly offering is a completely reasonable deal, or a least it is right this second, before we know what Crawford-Khan did on pay-per-view. If it didn’t come close to reaching the 360K buys that Spence did in March against Mikey Garcia, it probably makes 50-50 harder to get for Top Rank.
As for getting the networks together, surely that’s doable. HBO and Showtime did it a couple times for the biggest possible fights, Lewis-Tyson and Mayweather-Pacquiao, and the latter saw Haymon and Arum work together for once.
But, again, and I said this earlier, while there’s definitely money to be made on this fight, it’s not at Lewis-Tyson or Mayweather-Pacquiao levels, either. It’s the best fight at 147, arguably the best in the sport to be made at the moment, but the sport at the moment doesn’t have a true giant blockbuster mega-event to even be made, really. Not in terms of the money, which is what ultimately drives everything. Big fights for right now, yes. Big fights compared to even recent boxing history? Not particularly.
And we’re just talking money here. Crawford-Spence is a much better matchup than Mayweather-Guerrero ever was, but Mayweather-Guerrero also sold a million on pay-per-view. It would be a tall task for this fight to do the same.
Personally, I get the sense that Arum, famous for marination and not above a cold shoulder to rival promoters, is indeed actually, truly willing to make this fight now, but that it’s largely because his options for Crawford are so lacking otherwise. He might not say that, because it just makes guys he still promotes otherwise sound bad, which is pointless, but he knows it very well.
Unfortunately for Arum and Crawford, Spence is just not in that position. He can fight Shawn Porter, he can fight Keith Thurman, he can fight Manny Pacquiao, he can fight Danny Garcia. If they think they can make money without dealing with a rival promoter, they just will. It’s not a new thing in boxing, from anyone.
Think back to when everyone was calling for Mayweather-Pacquiao. They both had a lot of at least viable options. It took over five years to get that fight made, the demand really starting after Pacquiao ripped Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton in 2008-09, while Mayweather was “retired” after having beaten Oscar and Hatton himself in 2007.
And hey, maybe all those potential Spence fights (other than Pacquiao, who still has an audience) would flat bomb on pay-per-view. Mikey Garcia brought the Mexican audience with him in March; Porter and Danny Garcia and Thurman don’t.
That might actually be for the best. If Spence has one or two bad pay-per-view showings, maybe it makes the Crawford fight look more attractive for the people behind his career.
We’re almost certainly not getting Crawford and Spence next. And as much as it sucks for them, the clearest path to getting it might actually lie in them failing without each other, particularly on the PBC side. Arum already has a tough situation.