Wrestling & MMA

Fight fans want Crawford-Spence bout. Is that enough to overcome the obstacles that exist?

Terence Crawford (left) and Yuriorkis Gamboa (right) during the WBO world lightweight championship boxing bout June 28, 2014 in Omaha, Neb., Saturday.
Terence Crawford (left) and Yuriorkis Gamboa (right) during the WBO world lightweight championship boxing bout June 28, 2014 in Omaha, Neb., Saturday. AP

For all the emphasis Terence Crawford places on his upcoming title defense, the obvious opponent he is linked to remains an unavoidable topic.

Crawford prioritized his welterweight title defense against Amir Khan Saturday night in a recent conference call. Yet Crawford again was asked about the apparent scenario – the public’s strongly desired unification fight between Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.

Not only are they unbeaten champions in the prime of their careers, Crawford and Spence have ascended to the short list of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters.

But as much as fight fans want the bout, clear obstacles exist. Crawford is promoted by Top Rank, which showcases its top fighters on ESPN, while Spence fights under the Premier Boxing Champions stable of fighters, overseen by influential adviser Al Haymon. Fox and Showtime televise bouts featuring Premier Boxing Champions fighters.

Nonetheless, Crawford believes a fight against Spence can happen.

“Of course it is makeable,” Crawford said when asked about the bout. “I believe it would be the biggest fight in the welterweight division. But like you said, I have this fight against Amir Khan.

“After the fight, we can talk about Errol Spence and Al Haymon and Top Rank doing business together. But right now, I am not even thinking or worried about Errol Spence.”

Demand for the fight escalated following Spence’s dominant performance in his title defense against Mikey Garcia March 16. Now, Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) will need to follow up with a similar accomplishment against Khan to further strengthen the fight’s appeal.

“I know about the threats that he brings into the ring and the troubles that I can have if I overlook Amir Khan,” Crawford said. “He’s got everything to gain so we have to take this fight real serious because the fights that slip out of a fighter’s hands happen when they think the fight is in the bag and it didn’t even start yet. We are going into the fight 110 percent focused and ready for the best Amir Khan come fight night.”

Errol Spence Jr. poses for a photo after defeating Mikey Garcia in an IBF World Welterweight Championship boxing bout Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. Richard W. Rodriguez AP

In addition to ring performance, Crawford-Khan pay-per-view figures also will indicate if a future fight with Spence will result in a profitable venture. The pay-per-numbers for the Spence-Garcia bout reportedly generated more than 300,000 purchases – not the stratospheric figures of fights headlined by the retired Floyd Mayweather Jr. or the two Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin bouts but healthy figures for fighters new to the pay-per-view medium.

“My focus is to go in the ring on (Saturday) and solidify a good performance and get the victory,” Crawford said. “The numbers should be good. Amir Khan is a great fighter, fighting a great fighter in myself. I think the fans will enjoy a great night of boxing.”

A 2004 Olympic silver medalist representing his native Great Britain and a former WBA super-lightweight champion, Khan is 6-0 as a welterweight and moved up to junior-middleweight for a pay-per-view title fight against Alvarez three years ago. Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) used his speed and boxing skills to offset Alvarez early in the bout before Alvarez knocked him out in the sixth round.

With all the attention given to a Crawford-Spence fight, Khan looks forward to spoiling such plans.

“One thing I want to say is there is a lot of talk about Crawford with Spence, who just came off a fight,” Khan said. “All of those people should be talking about Spence against me. I’m not just a number.

“If Crawford is talking about maybe that fight happening and overlooking me, it’s going to be a big shock. I’m going to be ready.”

Claressa Shields won a lopsided unanimous decision over Christina Hammer in their women’s middleweight unification title bout late Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J. The three judges scored the bout for Shields 98-91 (twice) and 98-92. Shields, who trained for the fight in Miami Beach, is 9-0.

Fresh off his top 10 ranking by a sanctioning body, Miami resident Hairon Socarras will headline the next card at the Seminole Hard Rock Events Center on May 10. Ranked seventh by the World Boxing Association, Socarras (21-0, 13 KOs) will face a still unannounced opponent in the main event of an eight-bout show.

Coming up

Saturday (6 p.m., ESPN2): Carlos Adames vs. Frank Galarza, 10, junior-middleweights.

Saturday (8 p.m., Fox-Ch. 7): Danny Garcia vs. Adrian Granados, 12, welterweights.

Saturday (9 p.m., pay-per-view): Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan, 12, for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title.