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What next for Terence Crawford after Porter win and decision to leave Top Rank?

Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr seems a closer reality than ever before, but don’t count your chickens.

Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr seems closer to reality than ever
Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr seems closer to reality than ever
Steve Marcus and Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

To say Terence Crawford had an eventful Saturday night would be a gross understatement. Not only did he remain undefeated, keep his WBO welterweight title, and put away lingering doubt that maybe he wasn’t as great at welterweight as people have made out by becoming the first man to stop Shawn Porter — who then retired after the fight — but he also dropped the bomb at the post-fight presser.

Crawford is leaving Top Rank, citing Bob Arum’s failure to deliver a fight with Errol Spence Jr in the past few years, and having no more patience to see if the veteran promoter can.

That doesn’t mean the 34-year-old Crawford has made a deal with Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions. He’s had chances to leave Top Rank before and didn’t, and the situation was really no better for him at Top Rank then than it would be right now. If anything, Top Rank has now shown an ability and willingness to work more with Haymon’s side than they have in the past — with the latter two of the three Fury-Wilder fights and now Crawford-Porter, Top Rank and PBC have done business on big fights, and Arum has said he expects they’ll do more.

But it’s also worth noting that Fury-Wilder was a true co-promotion, even splitting broadcast rights and all that. Crawford-Porter was a Top Rank promotion in association with Tom Brown’s TGB Promotions, which is basically PBC’s house promoter since Haymon is not himself the promoter of record, but it was a full ESPN production, a Top Rank event first and foremost.

Will Crawford vs Spence happen next?

Maybe Crawford (39-0, 28 KO) no longer has any belief that Top Rank can get the welterweight fight done. They haven’t so far, and as he said, how is Arum going to secure a bout between Crawford and Errol Spence Jr without Crawford under contract if he couldn’t do it with Crawford under contract?

“Bud” does seem dead set on leaving. But every promoter of value should be expected to make him some sort of offer. The clear biggest and best fights are with Premier Boxing Champions, though, and that even goes for Crawford potentially moving up to 154 lbs, which he mentioned as a possibility; they also have several of the top names and both of the two titlists in that division.

So yes, the Spence-Crawford/Crawford-Spence fight is a closer reality than ever before. It’s probably not a coincidence that the PBC on FOX Twitter account had this ready to go shortly after last night’s fight:

It’s probably also not a coincidence that Spence (27-0, 21 KO) was in attendance last night; as Crawford said in his post-fight interview in the ring, Spence had previously said he wouldn’t attend Crawford fights.

Terence Crawford is 34 years old. The clock is ticking on his prime, as great as he is. And now that Manny Pacquiao is fully out of the sport, there is only one true mega-money fight at 147 lbs left.

It’s time (past time, really) for Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr. It’s what everyone — the fighters themselves, chiefly, but also fans, media, and everyone else — should be demanding. No set-up fights to “make it bigger,” none of that. It’s time.

OK, but what if we don’t get Crawford vs Spence next?

Sure, that’s a possibility. One thing we have to consider is Errol Spence Jr’s physical condition. He was meant to fight Manny Pacquiao this summer, you’ll recall, but had to pull out late with an eye injury that required surgery. It seems like Spence will fight again, but we just can’t be 100 percent certain of that. If he can’t get medically cleared, that’s a wrap on the idea.

But if Spence is fit and ready to go, there just isn’t much for he or Crawford to do that seems worthwhile other than fighting one another.

Yordenis Ugas, the WBA titleholder, tried to get that sanctioning body to allow him to make a deal for a unification with WBC/IBF titlist Spence. That failed. Ugas has been ordered to fight Eimantas Stanionis, and if he wins that, he’ll be getting an order to face Radzhab Butaev.

Ugas could give up the belt and do what he wants, leaving Stanionis to fight Butaev, but that doesn’t seem worth it for anyone. Without the belt, Ugas is a 35-year-old Cuban with no appreciable paying fan base, and that’s with all due respect to Ugas, who would be a threat to either Spence or Crawford in the ring.

Yordenis didn’t pick up quite the buzz that you might expect for beating and retiring Manny Pacquiao in August. For a Manny Pacquiao fight, that one sort of came and went in the public eye with an indifference comparable to his 2018 win over Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur. And it’s not like Ugas went on some wild press tour after it was over. Ugas without the belt does not bring near the money and prestige that Terence Crawford brings for an Errol Spence Jr fight.

A move to 154 right now might work OK for Crawford, and might be inevitably necessary for Spence, but what do they do there? Spence is unlikely to fight Jermell Charlo; it’s not impossible, maybe, but Spence is friendly with the Charlos, tighter than the normal friendship we hear about between fighters who do fight each other.

Is Crawford going up to fight Charlo or Brian Castano bigger than a Spence fight? No.

As far as someone coming up, there’s one champion at 140 lbs, and it’s Josh Taylor — who is signed with Top Rank. I think we can count that one out.

Look, let’s cut this off here. There is no bigger fight for Crawford and Spence than the other guy. It’s time. Get it done and let’s settle the debate about who would win by finding out who does.

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