Freddie Roach tipping Terence Crawford against Errol Spence but speaks of admiration for in-demand trainer Derrick James

Trainer Freddie Roach believes Nebraska star Terence Crawford will be leaving Las Vegas with all of the welterweight titles after his fight with Errol Spence on Saturday.

Spence and Crawford meet in the most meaningful fight of 2023, but Roach feels Crawford has more to his game and that will see him victorious at the T-Mobile Arena.

“Spence is a good guy and he’s a big puncher and a dangerous guy but his opponent, I think, Crawford is one of the better boxers and one of the best boxers out there,” Roach said. “I think he is one of the best boxers in the world today. He goes out there and does very well and he’s a clever, clever guy.”

Roach knows both fighters, and reckons they are doing what needs to be done to represent the sport at its finest.

“We’re good friends [Roach and Crawford], I sat with him at the Hall of Fame dinner, nice guy, Spence is a nice guy, two good fighters going at it,” Roach continued. “This is what I like about boxing. Boxing is at its best when you put good fights like this on. When the best fight the best.”

It is the enigmatic nature of Crawford’s ability that attracts Roach; the fact Crawford can switch stances seamlessly, that he can react and adapt to what is in front of him and how he figures his opponents out, often after a cagey start.

“He doesn’t listen to his corner that much [Crawford], he just goes on his own, he does what comes naturally and that’s what I like about him,” Roach added. 

Freddie actually spent time researching Spence when it looked as though Errol would fight an aging Manny Pacquiao. That fight did not happen in the end but Roach thought it would have been a good fight. At the time.

“Now people have asked me if Manny would fight the winner,” Roach explained. “I said, ‘I don’t know, call him [Pacquiao] up and ask him.’” 

It is not, however, something Freddie wants to see. Roach is happy his star student has moved on from boxing, but there is always speculation about the Filipino icon returning.

At the time Roach was training Pacquiao, he also had Amir Khan, then there was Miguel Cotto. Roach has trained dozens of champions and in Spence’s corner is Derrick James, for many the man of the moment in boxing, who counts Frank Martin, Ryan Garcia, Jermell Charlo and Anthony Joshua as his clients. 

Roach thinks it’s clear why so many are seeking the Dallas coach out.

“They’re listening to him and what he’s saying, they’re paying attention to it,” Freddie added. “It has to make sense, because if it doesn’t make sense, they wouldn’t listen to him. “He’s very, very good. He gives them directions right down the middle and he doesn’t play around in the corner and I like that. He’s very serious when he gives them instructions. Sometimes, I get someone come back to the corner and they’re not listening to me. And the first thing I’m thinking is, ‘Should I slap him in the face and get his attention? Or is this guy maybe the type of guy that if I slap him is he going to fall apart?’ You’ve got to take stuff like this into consideration.”

James is a known taskmaster. 

“I like that,” said Roach. “He knows it and they know it. That’s the best part. They know it.”