Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr have agreed to terms for November Eric Francis and Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford got into a fight in the bowels of the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City in 2018. It was a normal back-and-forth that boxing fans worldwide came to care a lot about.
On that November night almost five years ago, two of boxing’s best fighters were ready to fight each other. However, for several reasons, the fight never happened. Fans had to wait for years while Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) and Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs) fought with harsh words outside the ring because a fight couldn’t happen for several reasons.
It’s rare for two undefeated top boxers like Spence and Crawford to fight at the same weight simultaneously. Both are at the top of the pound-for-pound list and in their prime. But boxing’s politics got in the way. Crawford was with Top Rank, and Spence was with PBC. These are two promotion companies that don’t often work together.
Last September, it looked like a deal was almost done, but talks fell apart at the last minute. Spence looked like he would move up to 154 pounds for a summer fight against former unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman. This could have ended a chance for Crawford and Spence to meet at the top of the welterweight division.
The fighters took matters into their own hands, which was good. Crawford said that he pushed the fight negotiations forward with a long phone call in March. This set the wheels in motion for what could be the most important boxing match since Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
Spence, 33 years old, said at his media workout last week in Las Vegas, “I knew I had to make it happen.” “Everyone wanted this to happen. We must show who the man is in boxing and the welterweight division. The winner of this match will be the best boxer in the world. Period.”
No, Spence and Crawford won’t even come close to making as much money as Mayweather and Pacquiao, whose records still stand. However, unlike Mayweather and Pacquiao, who are both all-time greats, Spence and Crawford, who are both 35, are at their athletic best.
On Saturday in Las Vegas, they will enter the ring with clean records and all four major welterweight titles. Spence, who is the WBC, WBA, and IBF champion, will fight WBO champion Crawford for the welterweight title, if not also for the pound-for-pound title. Spence is ESPN’s No. 4 boxer, no matter what weight he fights at. Crawford is No. 1 on the list.
At his own media workout last week in Las Vegas, Crawford said, “This fight is happening at the right time.” “Since all the belts are at stake, there is even more to fight for. How could this fight be better than if it was for the undisputed welterweight title?”
The trip to Spence-Crawford was long and roundabout, but it’s finally here. This is how the fight turned out in the end.
On May 27, 2017, Spence had his first professional fight outside North America. He went from Texas to Sheffield, England, to fight Kell Brook for the first time for a title. Spence won the IBF welterweight title with a performance that made him a star.
Brook was in charge of the fight for the first half, but Spence won the second half with his accurate southpaw jab and body punches. As Spence kept throwing punches, Brook’s left eye shut, and he was forced to take a knee in Round 10 because he was getting hit so hard.
In Round 11, Brook again fell to the floor. This time, the fight was stopped by the ref.
In the fight, Spence broke Brook’s left orbital. In the fight before, Brook had broken his right orbital when he fought Gennadiy Golovkin.
Brook said of Spence after the fight, “He’s one of the best kids I’ve been in with, if not the best.”
Spence said, “A real champion will fight anywhere. He went to fight in America, so I came here. The goal is to win all of the welterweight fights and become the undisputed world champion.”
On Jan. 20, 2018, Spence defended his IBF title for the first time against Lamont Peterson, a former champion who was past his best. “The Truth” won an easy TKO in the seventh round.
Crawford beat Jeff Horn in the ninth round to win the WBO welterweight title in his first fight at 147 pounds on June 9, 2018. Horn was well-known because he took the title from Pacquiao in a controversial way the year before, but he couldn’t beat Crawford.
Before knocking out Horn in Round 9, “Bud” won the first eight rounds on all three scorecards. Horn was up before the count of 10, but Crawford went after the Australian, so referee Robert Byrd stopped the beating.
Spence kept himself busy on June 16, 2018, by knocking out Carlos Ocampo in the first round and keeping his IBF title. Spence’s favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys, practices in Frisco, Texas. This is where the homecoming title defense took place.
On October 13, 2018, Crawford made his first defense of his WBO welterweight title by knocking out Jose Benavidez Jr. in the 12th round. Benavidez Jr. is the older brother of David Benavidez, the current WBC interim super middleweight champion. Crawford knocked out Benavidez in the final round, bringing the packed CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, to its feet.
On November 17, 2018, Spence and Crawford were in the ring in Oklahoma City to watch their friend Maurice Hooker win a junior welterweight title fight against Alex Saucedo. The fight was shown on ESPN.
After the fight, Spence and Crawford got into a fight in the arena, which sent the boxing world into a frenzy.
“I’m going to break you and stop you…” Spence told us. “I’ll stop you, no problem. I promise it won’t be hard work.”
Crawford replied, “Try that body shot,” he showed off his stomach. “I’m strong. As strong as a rock. He pointed at Spence and said, “That’s fat.”
Spence said, “It doesn’t matter.” “I’m going to kill you. Yurikis Gamboa threw you off. We’ve seen how shaky your legs are.”
“You hurt because of Ocampo. And Kell Brook made you feel bad, “Crawford spoke back. “Let me hit you first. You’re going to resemble [Jose] Benavidez.”
Spence said this about Benavidez, who was shot in the leg in 2016 and fought Crawford while wearing a brace on his knee.
Crawford replied, “I will make you do the Stanky Leg.”
Spence says: “What do you want to bet on? I’d bet $100,000 on that happening.”
“Let’s bet $1 million,” said Crawford.
Spence says: “Let’s put $1,000,000 on it. Easy.”
On March 16, 2019, Spence was the main event on pay-per-view for the first time. With a unanimous decision, he beat Mikey Garcia, who moved up two weight classes to welterweight for the fight. Over 47,000 people were expected to watch Spence’s first fight at the Cowboys’ stadium.
After that, Spence invited Pacquiao into the ring, setting up a possible future fight.
On April 20, 2019, Crawford knocked out Amir Khan in the first round and picked him apart easily on the way to a TKO victory in the sixth round. But the ending was not very exciting. In Round 6, Crawford accidentally hit Khan low, and Khan decided he couldn’t keep going. Over 14,000 people watched Crawford’s first ESPN PPV fight at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“I want to fight Errol Spence next,” Crawford said. “He can come get it whenever he’s ready.”
The founder of Top Rank, Bob Arum, who was Crawford’s promoter then, was upset that a fight between his fighter and Spence didn’t happen.
Arum said, “We want to fight Errol Spence.” “The fight is what everyone wants. Al Haymon is the only one who can stop it.
“Al Haymon is not going to fight. Not because of Spence, but because of Al Haymon, Spence won’t fight Crawford. He runs a company that is a scam. People need to realize that he is bad for boxing. Why not make a fight between Spence and Crawford, which is what all fight fans want? He only lets his fighters fight in his camp or against people he knows they can beat.
“This is the trick. Spence thinks he can win against Crawford. Al Haymon doesn’t think in God. I want to fight, but I want to do it in the fairest way possible.”
THEY DIDN’T HAVE ONE when ESPN asked PBC for a response to Arum’s claims.
Spence’s split-decision win over Shawn Porter on Sept. 28 was one of the best wins of his career and one of the best fights of 2019. It was also one of the best fights of 2019. With the win, Spence added the WBC welterweight title to his IBF title.
Spence and Porter were trading blows back and forth when, in the second-to-last round, Spence threw a powerful left hook that knocked Porter out.
Spence said, “I told my team, ‘You line them up, and I’ll knock them down.'”
credited by GMA News online
Just before 3 a.m. on Oct. 10, 2019, Spence was in a serious accident with just one car in Dallas. Police say Spence was thrown out of the car because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt when it crossed a median into oncoming traffic and flipped over several times. Spence was taken to the ICU and stayed there for six days, but he didn’t break any bones.
Later, he pleaded guilty to driving while drunk. He was sentenced to three days in jail, but the judge considered the time he had already spent there.
“Thank God, no one else was hurt in the accident,” Spence said. “It was an event that would change my life significantly.”
While getting better, Spence said he thought about “how much I could have lost and how lucky I was to get another chance at life.”
Spence said, “Don’t drink and drive.” “Not even one. It doesn’t pay off.”
Crawford kept his WBO title on December 14, 2019, when he knocked down “Mean Machine” Egidijus Kavaliauskas three times in the ninth round and stopped the fight.
In Round 7, Crawford knocked Kavaliauskas down once. In Round 9, he knocked him down twice. In Round 3, Crawford was knocked down by a punch, but the referee said it was a slip.
Crawford said, “I wasn’t hurt at all.” “I got up and went over to him right away. I was in no way hurt. All night, I walked through everything he threw.”
In their professional careers, neither Spence nor Crawford have been knocked down.
On November 14, 2020, Crawford beat Brook so hard that he stopped him in the fourth round and kept his WBO title. “Bud” knocked Brook down with a right hand in Round 4, and then he finished him off with a barrage of punches while still standing.
“No one has ever done that to me in my career, not even when we were sparring,” Brook said.
August 2021: Spence was going to fight Pacquiao on August 21 in Las Vegas. It would be the biggest fight of his career, but he had to pull out 12 days before the fight because the retina in his left eye had come loose.
“Thank goodness I caught it… “It’s an injury that ends many other boxers’ careers,” Spence told ESPN in his first public remarks since surgery. “Many of them don’t go to the doctor. I would have tried to spar and do other things even if this had happened early in training camp. And it would have probably been broken for good.
“I’m just glad it happened when it did, that I caught it early, and that I get to do what I love all over again.”
Yordenis Ugas took over for Spence. He upset Pacquiao, which made the all-time great quit.
On November 20, 2021, Brook was the first person Spence and Crawford fought, and Porter was the second.
Porter pushed Spence to the edge in a close fight, and the former champion could also test Crawford. Spence knocked Porter down in the eleventh round and won by decision, but Crawford stopped Porter in the tenth round.
In Round 10, Crawford knocked out the pressure fighter twice before Porter’s trainer and father, Kenny Porter, called it quits. Porter said he was done with fighting after the fight.
Crawford said after the fight, “His dad did the right thing by stopping it because I was coming back with a vengeance.” He was ahead on all three scorecards at the stoppage: 86-85, 87-84, and 86-85.
Spence was in Las Vegas to watch the fight, and Crawford sent him a message after it was over.
“You can compare what I did to what he did,” Crawford said after the fight, referring to Spence’s victory over Porter by a split decision. “Who is the No. 1 welterweight fighter now? You know who I’m looking for. All day, I’ve been yelling at him. Maybe Spence will get off his backside and fight me.
The fight ended Crawford’s contract with his longtime promoter, Top Rank. This made Crawford a free agent and allowed him to fight Spence.
“I think I’ve already made up my mind,” Crawford said. “Bob couldn’t get me the Spence fight when I was with him, so how will he get me the Spence fight when I’m not with him? My career is moving forward now.”
On April 16, 2022, Spence returned from surgery to fix his detached retina, which could have ended his career, with another impressive win. He knocked out Yordenis Ugas in the 10th round at the Cowboys’ stadium.
With this win, Spence won his third welterweight title, the WBA belt. This brings him one step closer to the undisputed title.
In Round 6, Ugas hit Spence hard and sent his mouthpiece flying, but Spence got back on his feet. As he did to Brook, he broke Ugas’s orbital bone and buckled Ugas in Round 10 before the ringside doctor said the fight should be stopped.
Spence said, “Everyone knows who I want next. I want Terence Crawford next.” “That’s the fight I want, and everyone else wants it too. I’m coming for that motherf—-ing belt, Terence.”
After months of talks, Spence and Crawford were close to a deal in September 2022. They even agreed on splitting the money, but the fight, set for November 19, fell through at the last minute.
Sources said that Crawford wanted to know how much each event cost because the contract had no guaranteed purse. Sources say that Crawford agreed that he would get less of the money.
Sources say that Crawford was going to get a share of the net income, so he wanted to be able to approve expenses.
On Oct. 20, 2022, Crawford told ESPN that he made a deal to fight welterweight contender David Avanesyan on Dec. 10 in Omaha. This means that a fight with Spence in 2022 is no longer possible.
“I was excited about the fight with Errol Spence,” Crawford said. “In June, I started talking to Al Haymon and PBC. They represent Errol Spence, a fighter who didn’t want the fight as much as I did.
“I agreed to everything they said, but they’ve been dragging their feet for months. I COULDN’T FIND SPENCE ANYWHERE when I was trying to make the deal. Al Haymon and Errol knew that I would fight before the end of the year. David Avanesyan is a very hard thing to do. He has beaten his last six opponents and is a dangerous fighter. Once I beat Avanesyan, my plan remained the same: “Whack Errol Spence in the snout.”
Spence replied on Twitter, “[Crawford] has been stalling for months; I could have fought in November. I’ve been fighting at this weight for over ten years, and it’s not easy or fun.
On December 10, 2022, Crawford knocked out Avanesyan with a left uppercut and a right hand, which ended the fight quickly in Round 6.
March 2023: After it looked like Spence was going to fight Keith Thurman at 154 pounds, the deal was made thanks to a 30-minute phone call between Spence and Crawford in February.
“I feel like the fight wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t called him and we hadn’t talked,” Crawford said. “…I was just hanging out at home, so I sent him a text. We sent each other texts, and then we got things going.”
“I’ve been looking for a fight. People thought I was the reason why the fight didn’t happen. I don’t want to get into details or blame anyone, so I called him again and said, “Hey, listen, you know, let’s get this fight over with.” Let’s change the past. You want to be the undisputed welterweight champion, and I do, too. So, let’s all work together to finish this fight.'”
Spence agreed that the call was important for getting the fight over with.
Spence said, “We just FaceTimed each other and talked about it. He just told me what he wanted.” “I had to be humble and give in to what he wanted, even though some people in the business thought I wouldn’t. But I did it, and I feel like the fight was because of me.”
Crawford said he had never talked to an opponent about deal points before “because I didn’t have to.”
“At this point, the stakes are very high, and both he and I knew that. That’s why we got together and made the fight everyone wanted to see.”
Spence said, “It’s cool that you’ve got two fighters willing to be humble and put other things aside to discuss the fight and try to make it happen.”
Crawford said, “I’ve learned a lot in the last few months by running my career, talking to Al Haymon, my handlers, and my lawyers, and just learning how the game works.”
“No one can understand how much work goes into making a megafight like this. They think the two fighters must agree on something, and then the fight ends. But many people don’t know what goes into making a megafight and what details are left out. Then they blame the fighters for not taking the fight because the contract wasn’t clear.
On May 23, 2023, ESPN said that Spence and Crawford had agreed to fight in Las Vegas on July 29 for the undisputed welterweight title.
The deal had a rematch clause that could go either way. The loser could ask for a rematch within 30 days of the fight for a fight later this year, no matter who it was.
On May 25, 2023, Spence and Crawford declared that they would fight each other on July 29, 2023, on Showtime PPV.
On June 13 and 14, 2023, Spence and Crawford went to two cities to discuss the fight with the press. Before going to New York for another news conference, they shared the stage in Los Angeles.
Spence said, “This is the most important fight in boxing right now.” “This is an epic battle. This fight is old-fashioned. This reminds me of the fights my dad told me about. It’s the best competing against the best.”
Crawford said, “Y’all are going to see something great. We judge greatness by how long it lasts. July 29, I’ll show everyone why this period is called the Terence Crawford era.
“People will say that Bud Crawford is unique after this fight. I can promise that. After the fight, he’ll respect me when I whup that ass. Errol hates to go backward. I’m the kind of fighter who gets stronger when you push me. We both like to fight and have big hearts. It makes for a great fight with lots of action.”
On July 25, 2023, Spence and Crawford arrived in style at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for fight week.
Spence said, “It would be a dream to become the first undisputed welterweight world champion in the four-belt era.” “When I was a kid, I watched all the great fighters. Now it’s my time to shine.
“I want the bright lights and glory… He is at his best. I’m at my best. We are the best two fighters in the welterweight division. The best boxer in the world will be the person who wins the fight on Saturday night.”
Crawford said, “Winning the undisputed championship for the second time will be even sweeter. Because of this, we take the risks we do. Because of this, we fight the way we do. This is a fight that everyone wants to see.
“My name is already on the list of the best welterweight fighters ever. It’s just a matter of going out there on Saturday to add the finishing touch to my legacy.”