Showtime feared Spence-Crawford super-fight might have been lost forever

“Honestly, from my perspective I never really got comfortable until it was signed,” said Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza. “And that was because we came so close last Fall only for it to fall apart when it was inches away.”

Finally, this weekend, Errol Spence and Terence Crawford meet to unify all of the welterweight titles in boxing’s most-eagerly anticipated fight since Floyd Mayweather defeated Manny Pacquiao in 2015.

“I think we were relatively close on the issues but – I don’t want to put words in his mouth –but Terence had a little impatience, had another financial opportunity [against David Avanesyan] and someone was waving a bunch of money in his face and he took the opportunity. When that happened, I don’t think any of us were particularly confident that we would even start conversations again. Most of us were of the mind that we may have seen the end of this possibility and this thing has disappeared entirely.”

But once tough Avanesyan was excused in six rounds, Crawford returned to the table, even if Espinoza was a little wary the next time around.

“We came back together again, and it made you work twice as hard but you’re sort of shellshocked, you’ve the PTSD of getting to the finish line and not quite crossing and until it was signed you couldn’t exhale.”

It has been well-publicised that the two fighters got on a call, eventually, and started to hammer out any differences. Espinoza knew they were talking, but he was not privy to the conversations. 

“It came up,” the Showtime boss said of that now vital ice-breaking call.

Describing how it came about, he continued: “Crawford was directly involved with many of the conversations. I think once he left Top Rank it seemed he was going to become more active and personally involved and he had direct conversations with PBC, he had direct conversations with me. There were a couple of issues that we just couldn’t get resolved and he said, ‘You know what, let me just talk to Errol man to man.’ We checked with Errol and he said, ‘Sure, I’ll talk to him.’ So they got on the phone themselves. I wasn’t on. PBC wasn’t on. 

“There was a couple of those conversations, just those guys. I got downloads from both sides, but fundamentally there were a couple of foundational issues, from the financial split to the way the rematch worked that were resolved in those conversations.”

Whoever loses on Saturday has an ironclad rematch clause, and the same applies if it’s a draw.

Espinoza worked side-by-side with Floyd Mayweather for many of Floyd’s most lucrative fights at the tail end of his career. There were huge, record-breaking nights in Vegas, and Espinoza says this resembles those occasions.

Showtime and PBC have been receiving flowers in the industry for delivering Tank-Ryan Garcia in April, this in July and Canelo-Jermell Charlo in September in what many consider a stellar year for the sport, but particularly as far as Showtime and PBC are concerned.

“There have been some good fights that have happened but I think we have more than pulled our weight, more than done our share, and I think the biggest fights of the year are on Showtime,” Espinoza said. “We wear that as a badge of honour, that we’re advancing the sport in the way that we have. Sometimes it’s a little bit of luck, it’s a bit of fortunate timing, you don’t expect all the fights to come together at one time to have the kind of run that we’ve been on, but we’ll take it.”