Boxing Can Cope Without Errol Spence Vs Terence Crawford, But Can Their Careers?

Boxing's Ross and Rachel are at it again
14:00, 05 Apr 2023

Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr was finally happening when I first conceived of this article. It is now apparently not going ahead according to one of the protagonists. Round and round we go as boxing’s most frustrating saga continues on its road to nowhere. You might think Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk’s will they-won’t they charade is getting tiresome, but that’s nothing compare to Crawford and Spence: the welterweight Ross and Rachel.

A cry of jubilation went up in boxing circles on Tuesday when The Ring reported that WBO welterweight champion Crawford would finally meet his WBC/WBA/IBF counterpart. The article suggested the fight would be officially announced on the upcoming Ryan Garcia va Gervonta Davis show at the end of the month. The sport as a whole breathed a sigh of relief. Sure, it had arrived a little later considering each man’s advancing age, but finally the two finest welterweights of this generation would meet.


You never get long to savour the good times in the fast-moving world of professional boxing. No sooner are you smelling the flowers than someone comes along and rips them out at the stem. Crawford was the orchid-botherer on this occasion, tweeting “It is April Fools!” and a laughing emoji exactly five hours after The Ring’s report was published. 

There are numerous ways to interpret this. Perhaps it is a cheeky statement of fact, timed to rattle as many cages as possible. After all it is April, fools. It could be a nod to April Fool’s Day itself but then he’s four days late on that. For a fighter as precise as ‘Bud’, it seems unlikely he’d miss the target. The most likely explanation is that this topsy-turvy fight has been toppled yet again.

Perhaps reports suggesting it is imminent were premature. This wouldn’t be the first time one of the fighters has disputed that an agreement is close. But whatever chicanery is at play, fans are growing weary of it. When Spence vs Crawford has collapsed in the past, the response had been visceral. Primal. This time it was greeted with a shrug and some mumbled indignation.


Boxing fans were furious about this fight not happening in the past because of how logical it seemed. The two best welterweights on the planet contesting the undisputed title. Both undefeated. Both in their prime with a who’s who of modern 147-pounders in their wake. The perfect, thirst-quenching cocktail that boxing needed. But this bar has stopped serving. 

With Crawford aged 35 and Spence aged 33, the gap is closing. This elite pair have been victims of their own success. Welterweight was the hottest division in boxing before they cut through it like a knife through butter. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Spence and Crawford have built exemplary CVs and part of the reason this match-up makes so much sense is the fact they are the last two men standing. But what that means is that when a fight like this doesn’t come off, it doesn’t leave you anywhere else to go.

Spence has been out of the ring since beating Yordenis Ugas to win the WBA belt a year ago. Before that, he hadn’t boxed in a year-and-a-half. Crawford’s activity makes for only slightly easier reading. 2019 was the last time he fought twice in a year but he did stop David Avanesyan last December. The middling nature of the challenger, with all due respect to Avanesyan, didn’t help interest in the WBO champion’s return. It is reaching a stage where not fighting each other isn’t just a missing piece of their legacies, it is actively harming their careers. They won’t battle each other but have little incentive, beyond a little financial top-up, to box anyone else.

Meanwhile, boxing goes on without them. Most fans have moved their annoyance at Spence/Crawford across to Fury/Usyk. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez still does better numbers than both, despite having the bravery to take on fights he might, and occasionally does, lose. Garcia and Davis are putting their reputations on the line finally too, something that even the losing man will deserve immense credit for. Boxing will be just fine without Spence fighting Crawford. But Spence and Crawford’s careers might not survive them not fighting each other.

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