The one true king of the welterweights will rise when unified WBC, WBA and IBF champion Errol Spence Jr squares off against WBO titleholder Terence Crawford in a long-awaited super fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Card starts at 2 AM Sunday SA time
Errol Spence Jr (2.25) v Terence Crawford (1.66) (Undisputed Welterweight Championship)
They’re two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. They’re a combined 67-0 with 52 knockouts and have shared the gold-plated perch of the 147-pound division for the better part of five years.
Now, finally, the two undefeated titans will go toe-to-toe to settle the debate over who’s truly the best in what’s the biggest boxing bout since Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao faced off in 2015.
Spence, who represented the U.S. at the London 2012 Olympics before turning pro, is 28-0 with 22 knockouts. “The Truth” has taken names and championships wherever he’s gone and continued his dominance by stopping Yordenis Ugas last April to add the WBA title to his WBC and IBF belts.
Crawford, who’s won titles at 135, 140 and 147 pounds, is 39-0 with 30 knockouts. He’s made six defences of the WBO title he captured with a knockout of Jeff Horn back in 2018, most recently starching David Avanesyan last December to pick up his 10th straight stoppage win.
While they have a combined knockout rate of over 77%, neither man has one-punch stopping power. They condemn opponents to the proverbial death by a thousand cuts, or simply put, accumulative damage.
Four of Spence’s six knockouts in title fights came in Round Six or beyond, while Crawford has gone into the sixth round or beyond in 11 of his 14 stoppage wins in 12-rounders. Both are southpaws and so defensively sound that a knockout is unlikely. Instead, they’re set to take fight fans on a thrilling 36-minute rollercoaster ride.
Spence, as the bigger man, has a slight power advantage. The 33-year-old has a strong jab, which is set to be his biggest weapon, and fantastic footwork while on the defensive end, his head movement is world-class.
Crawford, meanwhile, is a sophisticated switch-hitter, which sees him attack from different angles and keep his opponent guessing. To that end, the 35-year-old’s a master of distance, adept at gliding in and out of range and setting up counters, while he fires off more combinations than Spence.
In a fight that could go either way, there are a couple of factors that suggest Crawford will come out on top. As alluded to above, being a switch-hitter makes him the more versatile fighter, one who knows exactly how to make the most of his bigger toolkit. On top of that, he’ll also have a two-inch reach advantage.
Furthermore, while “Bud” is the more experienced fighter, he has less mileage on him. Spence was in a serious car crash in 2019, has suffered a myriad of injuries and has undergone eye surgery.
He’s been good enough to overcome these obstacles up till now, but Crawford’s cut from a different cloth than all of his previous opponents and should emerge as the undisputed champion.