Now that their fascinating fight finally has been made, Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. have tried to put their welterweight showdown in what they believe is its proper historical context.
The undefeated 147-pound champions expressed appreciation and respect Friday during a joint appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” for what will be at stake when they box July 29 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Barring a draw or a no-contest, Crawford or Spence will become boxing’s first fully unified welterweight champion of the four-belt era.
Crawford-Spence will also be a bout between two fighters commonly considered among boxing’s top five pound-for-pound.
“I mean, great things take time,” Spence told host Stephen A. Smith. “I mean, we both was going through, you know, negotiations, but we here now. So, all that stuff’s in the past. This the present. We here, we fighting each other. May the best man win. I feel like it’s the best fight, welterweight fight, in the last probably 40 years. This is the fight of the decade, the best versus the best.”
Seven months after negotiations ended for a November bout, Crawford, 35, and Spence, 33, jointly announced through their social media platforms Thursday that they officially agreed to a fight July 29 for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title and Spence’s IBF, WBA and WBC belts.
Crawford admitted Friday that it has been bothersome to wait so long for the fight he has wanted since he won the WBO 147-pound championship by knocking out Jeff Horn in June 2018.
“Oh, it’s been very difficult, as you know,” Crawford said. “It’s been frustrating, but I’m excited. I’m happy, you know, the fans is happy, everybody’s happy. So, we here now and Imma show the world why I’m the best fighter on the planet. And everybody need to tune in July 29th to watch me, Errol Spence go out there and put on a tremendous show.”
A prideful Spence explained how important it was to keep his word by finalizing a deal for the fight he has long said he badly wanted as well.
“I’m a man of my word,” Spence said. “Like I said, people thought I was gonna move up [to junior middleweight]. But just like I told him when we encountered each other in Oklahoma, I said I’m gonna get these belts on my side and Imma come take yours. And, you know, this where we at now.
“And I stood on that, even if it was leaving me staying out the ring the whole year to try to get me to fight other people. This is the fight that I wanted, so I stuck to my guns and was like, ‘I’m not fighting till I fight Terence Crawford,’ so my team got it going.”
Spence (28-0, 22 KOs), of DeSoto, Texas, will end a 15-month layoff the night he encounters Crawford. The 2012 Olympian last fought in April 2022, when he defeated former WBA champ Yordenis Ugas (27-5, 12 KOs) by 10th-round technical knockout at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The left-handed Spence has fought well after lengthy layoffs in the past, though, and feels like his style will be too much for the best opponent of his 10-year professional career.
“With me, I feel like my style, you know, is basically, you know, I’m not gonna say perfect, but it’s very good,” Spence said. “I got the jab. You know, I feel like I might be the stronger opponent, great body shots. He has great talent, great skills. But I feel like my ability and my will and my all-around just being the better fighter, I’m gonna beat him.”
Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs) last boxed December 10, when he knocked out Russia’s David Avanesyan (29-4-1, 17 KOs) in the sixth round at CHI Health Center in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. The three-division champion also feels like he has the unique style to become the first fighter to beat Spence.
“There’s a lot riding on this fight,” Crawford said. “You know, this is the biggest fight in boxing in decades, you know, so, you know, of course I wanna go out there and put on a tremendous show and win in spectacular fashion. I’m feeling good, I’m feeling strong. I’m ready to go next week if need be. But, you know, at the same time everything has its time. The sun shines on everybody and, you know, the sun’s gonna shine on me July 29th.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.