It is the biggest fight of the year and one of the biggest that can be made in boxing. When Errol Spence and Terence Crawford meet to unify the titles at welterweight on July 29 in Las Vegas, Crawford is entering the ring a slender favourite. Here, we look at why some think he might have the edge over Spence in one of boxing’s most eagerly-awaited contests in years.
Spence has struggled throughout the years with inactivity, partly down to himself. There was, of course, the well-publicised car crash, and he’s only boxed once in three years, albeit impressing against Yordeins Ugas, in his last fight in April last year. Before that, there was one fight in 2020, two in 2019, two in 2018, one in 2017 and two in 2016. It works out at about nine fights in eight years. Yes, that means he could be better preserved, and Crawford has only had 12 in that same period – so he’s hardly Archie Moore, but Crawford’s last fight was in December, so there is less likely to be as much rust on Crawford.
Ability to switch
Spence is not a one-dimensional fighter. He can box beautifully, he can get stuck in, attack and defend, he wouldn’t be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters if he didn’t have it all. But very few fighters have what ambidextrous Crawford has, the ability to change stances and be as good each way. Crawford has been more effective as a southpaw against some opponents, and better against others in an orthodox stance. The fact is, he can do both equally well with little to no interruption. Crawford’s ability to switch seamlessly, on the front or back foot, is a rare quality indeed, and must make him a nightmare to prepare for.
It is not just down to Crawford having 39 fights and Spence having 28 and being a pro almost four years longer. Both have fought on the road, Crawford winning his first title in Glasgow against Ricky Burns and Spence defeating Kell Brook in Sheffield. But Crawford built a fanbase under the expectant eyes of his supporters in Omaha, he beat Shawn Porter in Las Vegas just two fights ago, you could contend that he’s boxed a greater array of styles, from the lightning fists of Amir Khan and Yuriorkis Gamboa to the grinding pressure of David Avanesyan and Egidijus Kavaliauskas and the skills of Porter and Brook (the latter two, of course, were also beaten by Spence), that makes Crawford a more rounded competitor.
A ring might be a ring anywhere but Spence, by the way, has not fought in Vegas since he beat Phil Lo Greco in June 2015 on the Adrien Broner-Porter bill.
For years, writers have talked about fighters who ‘live the life’ and Crawford is one of those. He’s not filmed coming out of nightclubs, he doesn’t blow up in weight between fights and he’s been fighting his whole career like he’s only got one shot at it.
Spence had an infamous car crash in his Ferrari in 2019, which saw him have a stay in intensive care, before returning to face Danny Garcia. Spence’s car rolled multiple times and he was flipped from the vehicle, and was not wearing a seatbelt. In total, he was in hospital for six days and after admitting to having drunk alcohol, was jailed for three days.
Speculation has continued about how he lives his life away from the cameras, but on fight night – so far – he has always rendered those discussions null and void.
He's the smaller man
This might fly in the face of those who argue Spence is the naturally bigger man having been a career welterweight. There might, however, come a time when – at 33 – Spence finds it harder and harder to keep hitting 147. He weighed almost 150lbs for his debut 11 years ago – after a long, decorated amateur career that saw him make it to the London Olympic quarter-finals – but those early weights indicate Spence was snug at the weight a decade ago. Crawford made his debut at 138lbs and won his first world title at lightweight, coming in against Burns at 134 1/2lbs. You could make a case that, organically, by this stage welterweight is a better fit for the 35-year-old, who has campaigned at 147 for the last five years.