By Mike Smith: Errol Spence says he thinks WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford is being badly promoted by his promoters at Top Rank Boxing, who he feels are pushing Vasily Lomachenko over him when it comes to promoting. Spence says he noticed that Top Rank was mentioning Lomachenko a lot during the week of Crawford’s last title defense against Amir Khan on ESPN pay-per-view on April 20th.
Spence is unsure whether it was self conscious or intentional on Top Rank’s part to be talking up Lomachenko rather than Crawford during the fight week, but he thinks Crawford isn’t being promoted right by them.
Spence (25-0, 21 KOs) has his eyes on a unification fight against World Boxing Council welterweight champion Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) for his next fight, and then after that, he wants to face the winner of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman fight. Spence figures that he’s got at least two fights ahead of him before he can start looking in Crawford’s direction for the last title in his possession.
“He’s not promoting him well, because throughout the whole [Crawford vs. Khan] promotion, he’s trying to say Lomachenko’s name,” Spence said to Fighthype in talking about how he feels Crawford isn’t being promoted right by Top Rank. “Even after the [Crawford-Khan] fight, they kept saying Lomachenko, comparing Terence Crawford to Lomchenko. Why even mention his [Lomachenko] name when you’ve got Terence Crawford fighting on pay-per-view? You’re trying to promote Terence Crawford, but they kept saying his [Lomachenko] name throughout the whole promotion. I wasn’t even paying attention to the final promotion until the week of the fight, and then they kept saying his [Lomachenko] name. Stop trying to big up Lomachenko. I don’t know if it’s intentional [on Top Rank’s part]. It could be intentional, but it could be self conscious. That’s just how they are. Lomachenko’s their guy. They were forced to really promote Terence Crawford when he kept winning. Terence Crawford is a fighter,” Spence said.
ESPN and Top Rank boss Bob Arum were obviously mentioning Lomachenko’s name a lot during the week of Crawford’s fight with Khan is because the two are rated #1 and #2 respectively in Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings. It makes sense for ESPN and Top Rank to talk about that kind of stuff in a way to validate both Lomachenko and Crawford to get the casual boxing fans to appreciate how good they are. The average fan doesn’t bother researching stats and histories of fighters when they watch boxing matches on television. They just want to see a good fight. ESPN and Top Rank are trying to impress upon the fan how good these guys are. Since Lomachenko also fights on ESPN, it makes sense for them to name drop his name constantly during the week of Crawford’s fights. However, it did seem at times like ESPN and Top Rank were bringing up Lomachenko’s name a little too much at times. What they should have done is focused more on Crawford and the potential match-ups he has in the future against guys like Spence or more realistic opponents that he’ll likely be facing in the near term like Kell Brook, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Kerman Lejarraga and Luis Collazo. Those guys are likely the opposition that Top Rank will be pooling from to pick Crawford’s next two opponents.
“I respect Terence Crawford. I got his number. He’s got my number,” Spence said. “I respect him. I like him a lot. I feel like he’s a real fighter. He’s a good guy, but this is a business too. I think he capped his ceiling signing a deal [with Top Rank]. It is what it is. It’s his thing. He’s comfortable with it. Everybody is different. It’s going to happen,” Spence said about an eventual fight between him and Crawford. “It’s definitely going to happen.”
The 31-year-old Crawford (35-0, 25 KOs) recently re-upped with Top Rank for a number of years. It’s unclear how much Crawford was paid by Top Rank, and how much longer he’s got before his contract expires. Spence seems to believe that Crawford made a mistake by re-signing with Top Rank. Could Crawford make more money if he had signed with another promotional company or network platform? It’ll be interesting to see how much Crawford has left of his prime after his existing contract with Top Rank expires, and he chooses to test the waters elsewhere. Crawford could end up like Tim Bradley in re-signing with Top Rank repeatedly and ending his career with them without looking for other opportunities with other promoters or networks.
In Bradley’s case, he had a good situation in being signed with Top Rank, as they put him in with the highly popular Manny Pacquiao three times, and he made a bundle of money for those matches. There was only a need for two of the fights, as Pacquiao clearly beat Bradley decisively in their rematch in April 2014, but Top Rank let Timothy have a third fight anyway against the Filipino star in 2016 despite there being very little interest from the boxing public ins seeing them fight again. Crawford isn’t in the same situation as Bradley. There isn’t a Pacquiao for Top Rank to continually match Crawford against repeatedly for three fights. All the other top welterweights are with Premier Boxing Champions, so that kind of limits Crawford’s choices. Yeah, Top Rank has a popular fighter in Vasiliy Lomachenko signed to their promotional company, but he’s too small for them to put in with Crawford. Those two can’t help each other. The only thing Top Rank can do with Crawford is match him agaisnt the little known contenders in the World Boxing Organization’s top 15, and try and lure fighters to face him. They were able to get passed his prime Amir Khan to agree to fight Crawford, but that was a fight that wasn’t a thrilling one. Khan has been a shot fighter since 2012. The casual boxing fans had no idea who Khan was in the U.S, and the hardcore fans weren’t thrilled with the fight for obvious reasons.
“Like I said, I’ve got people in front of me. I’ve got Porter, Pacquiao and Thurman,” Spence said. “I can make 47. If I can’t, I’ll go to 54. I want the WBC belt. People saying, ‘You’re ducking Terence.’ I’m not ducking him. I’ve got someone in front of me. That fight [against WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter] can be easily made in a day. So, I can easily take that fight. Bob Arum says he wants to make a fight between me and Terence Crawford, but at the end of the day, we’re still human. On TV, he’s bashing somebody. What makes you think someone wants to talk to you or do business with you when you’re bashing them, saying this person is this, that person is that? It really shows that they’re desperate, but I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about getting belts. It’s strap season. I’m going to knock Shawn Porter out, and if Thurman and Pacquiao fight, then I’m going to get the winner of that. I’m going to knock them out too. Then we won’t be talking about no 50-50 split [with Crawford,” Spence said.
What a lot of fans fail to realize is the negotiations over the purse split for a Spence vs. Crawford fight is what could potentially keep it from happening while the two are still in their primes. It sounds like Spence wants bigger share of the financial pie for a fight against Crawford, and that could prevent the match from being made unless he and Top Rank agrees to taking the smaller portion. Spence is in a good position to ask for more money, because he’s got a lot of options for fights with PBC.
Arum being frustrated about PBC boss Al Haymon not making the fight between Spence and Crawford won’t keep it from happening. It’s going to happen, as long as the two keep winning. Spence is going to fight the top guys with PBC at welterweight before they look to make the fight with Crawford. That fight will likely happen in 2020. By that point, Spence will have already fought Porter and the Pacquiao vs. Thurman winner. It’s also possible that the winner of the Pacquiao-Thurman fight will choose to veer around Spence, and fight other guys. That’s quite possible. Spence has been trying to get a fight against Thurman since 2016 with no luck. Pacquiao and Thurman might choose to play it safe and not fight Spence. If they don’t want to fight Spence, and if Danny Garcia wants no part of him either, then Spence-Crawford could happen in the first half of 2020. If Spence does face the Pacquiao vs. Thurman winner, then we’re probably looking at the second half of 2020 before Spence and Crawford face each other. It’s doubtful that Premier Boxing Champions will want Spence to wait until 2021 before making the fight with Crawford. Spence is getting bigger, and it’s going to be tougher for him to make the 147 lb welterweight limit as time goes by.