Trainers and former champs brought their A-game in analysis of Spence-Crawford
The impending Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford clash will surely produce rivers of ink as it draws near, and if it goes as everyone is anticipating it will produce many more stories and analysis for years to come.
During the buildup of the fight, two top trainers were joined by two former champions (both of them common Spence and Crawford opponents) in a conference call to offer their expert analysis of the much-anticipated clash, which will take place on Saturday, July 29 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and in which the vacant Ring magazine welterweight championship will be at stake.
Former welterweight titlists Shawn Porter and Kell Brook, plus top trainers Virgil Hunter and Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, previewed the matchup during a virtual media roundtable in which they brought their encyclopedic knowledge of boxing and produced an impeccable evaluation of a clash that promises to live in history as one of the division’s all-time best.
Here is what Porter, Brook, Hunter and Edwards had to say on Thursday:
SHAWN PORTER, Former Two-Time Welterweight Champion
“The one narrative is Terence Crawford can do more things in the ring. He has more tools in his toolbox. Errol Spence is the most fundamentally sound boxer in the world. We have never been able to see him pull out everything that he has. Terence has been in the ring with guys who have done different things. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, it’s all a matter of, ‘What are you going to do this round?’ Both fighters have the ability to make adjustments, be aggressive, fight off the back foot, and counterpunch. This is an outstanding fight because they both have an A+ in every box. We are going to see three different strategies from each fighter, maybe even four or five different game plans. Both of these guys have to have both in order to win the fight.
“The calculated pressure from Errol has to be something that he sustains for the entire fight. He needs to continue putting on the pressure and body punching. If you’re Terence Crawford, you have to get to Errol’s body and make him uncomfortable. Errol has a really tight defense and keeps his hands at home. If he’s not punching, his hands are up. With a guy like that, you have to find openings. Those openings are usually there when that punch is being released. Punch when he’s punching. Be accurate and be that sharpshooter. We’re not saying anything that either of these fighters can’t do. That is why this is such a great fight. It’s hard to find the timing, it’s hard to find the distance. It’s hard to be confident and do it. It’s going to be a great fight.
“If Terence is able to be comfortable and manage his energy, we have to start talking about him in the same breath as Manny Pacquiao, Andre Ward, and Floyd Mayweather. With this fight, you can’t measure another fighter’s energy or mentality through the fight. Terence never got uncomfortable in his fight against me. He never showed me that there was anything unsettled within his heart or mind. I pride myself on making fighters uncomfortable. Never once did I see Terence uncomfortable. I didn’t apply the kind of pressure that Errol is going to apply. That may have been the reason why I didn’t see Terence uncomfortable.
“I don’t have a pick. I don’t know who is going to win this fight. This is what boxing truly is. Both guys have basically everything needed to win, from power to speed. I truly don’t think anyone can look at this fight and say, ‘That guy is going to win,’ because there are so many outcomes and possibilities. One thing we know that’s not going to happen is that there won‘t be any foul play, any low blows. There is not going to be any head butts that would end this fight prematurely. The fans win. Boxing purists especially win.”
KELL BROOK, Former Welterweight World Champion
“Errol Spence is a very big welterweight, a natural southpaw. He’s big and strong and goes to the body good. His IQ is very high in the ring.
“Terence Crawford can box. He’s a sharpshooter with his punches and a very good finisher. He’s going to need every game plan in this fight. This is a real test.
“I put up guys like Errol, Crawford, Shawn Porter and Golovkin who I’ve been in there with who just have that aura around them. They have that X-factor. It’s the small margins that will decide this fight. It will come down to who has prepared the best. This is the real test for No. 1 in the division and we’re going to get some toe-to-toe action.
“I think Errol brings calculated pressure and will go to the body. He will be the bigger guy in the fight. Crawford has to be sharp and use the entire ring and pick his shots at the right time and make Spence work when he doesn’t want to work. He has to be very clever and get the rounds and break him down over the fight.
“I think inactivity can be an issue and it’s mental for Errol, who might question his inactivity. Time will tell.
“I think Terence is a very sharp and snapping puncher and Errol has a more grinding and thumping kind of power. That’s the difference I see in the two. We’re talking about two star fighters and it’s going to come down to a very small margin and they’re going to have to bring every part of their game to get a victory.”
VIRGIL HUNTER, former trainer for Andre Ward, Andre Berto, Amir Khan and more
“Errol has a grind-it-out, that go-get-you mentality. It doesn’t make sense to go against what works. In this fight, it’s not what I’m going to do to you. The fighter that wins will be the one who’s not going to let the other fighter do what he wants to do.
“I had the fortune to spend one day in the gym with Terence. His physical strength is underrated. The way he is genetically built, the way he has stayed in the gym for his entire career and has never gotten out of condition, brings a snap to his punch. He has a real buggy whip snap to his punches. You can feel a snap. He was a wrestler early on, and I’ve watched him tussle with big guys and get them down to the ground. He is built from the feet up with his physical strength. He can generate a lot of power.
“I like Errol and the way he fights. At some point that grind out style will slow up as you age. You have to grind every single day. Errol has admitted that he has had a lifestyle that wasn’t always good. That does damage to the internal organs that is irreversible. Errol’s determination and drive are A-plus. Who can stop the other guy from doing what he wants to do is going to be a factor in this fight.
“If either fighter is down in the fight, he has the ability to come back, even the fight, and take the lead. The first four rounds are going to determine how the rest of the fight is going to go. Both men understand that they have to get the respect of the other fighter real quick. The key for Terence is to stop Errol from what he wants to do and hurt him. The key for Errol is to keep grinding. He is going to have his momentum accelerated and make it very difficult for Terence.
“If I was able to spend three weeks in Errol’s and Crawford’s camps and watch the training, watch the strategies, and watch what they both do after training, how they recuperate, how they reinvigorate themselves, that would allow me to have a more accurate pick in this fight. I will be more settled on a pick during the week of the fight. I’ll be watching the mentalities and attitudes of the fighters, particularly on their skills. The Las Vegas heat and the rehydration process are going to be factors. I would have to be subjected to each fighter’s mental makeup over a period of time to see the concentration and mental fortitude to be able to make a pick. I’m just going to enjoy the fight. This is a great fight for boxing.”
STEPHEN “BREADMAN” EDWARDS, trainer for Julian Williams, Caleb Plant and More
“Crawford doesn’t have a lot of holes in his armor. One thing I was able to see in his fight with Shawn and Kell is that, for some reason, Terence is a little bit of a slow starter. They were able to get a lot done in the early rounds. So, I would really be conscious of that. [Terence] is one of the best fighters I’ve ever seen. The one thing about him is if you can get to him early before he adjusts.
“With Errol, he’s a snowball fighter who, once he gets his rhythm, comes forward and can walk you down behind that southpaw jab. One thing I would be worried about in this fight is letting Errol get his rhythm and establish that hard southpaw jab. That’s the first thing I would address if I was in Terence’s corner.
“The other thing would be counter attacking Errol’s body punching. Errol hits you to the body all night long and kind of wears you out. Besides Shawn, I’ve never seen someone go to Errol’s body all night long. I notice the small things and I’ve noticed Terence wears his trunks kind of high. I’ll be curious to see how he can overcome Errol’s grinding body shots.
“Terence is the puncher in this fight. Not that he punches harder than Errol, but he can hit you with shots that Errol doesn’t hit guys with. Errol kind of beats you down with his power, while Terence hits you on the money with shots you don’t even see. I would have Terence punch with him. Terence is really gifted where he can keep his eye on the target, punch with guys, and land clean shots. I don’t think he’s the hardest puncher I’ve ever seen as far as one-punch knockouts, but he has that ability to hit you while you’re punching with shots you don’t see. He doesn’t have to load up on it. It’s like a fast-snapping shot.
“Errol boxes going forward. When a guy boxes going forward he doesn’t get the same accolades as the guy who’s throwing a lot of smooth moves like a Pernell Whitaker or Floyd Mayweather, or even Shakur Stevenson. I think people use the word basic as an insult, but it’s not an insult, it’s a compliment. [Errol] is not fancy. He doesn’t show a lot of fancy moves and he doesn’t do a lot to avoid punches. But that doesn’t mean he’s not boxing. He keeps it simple.
“I think it’s a 50-50 fight. Errol does things in a subtle way. Against Mikey Garcia he fought a conservative fight and literally won every round. He got criticism for it because he didn’t knock the smaller man out. But he totally undressed him and outboxed him, so he does have that in his game and it could show up that night of the fight. Sometimes those guys need that special opponent in front of them to bring out what they really are because they don’t really show all of their stuff against the lesser guys.
“Those bright lights can do something to you, but both guys have composed, mature selves in the ring. I don’t see either guy choking up under the bright lights. Both guys seem to have that clutch gene. I don’t think that’s going to be a factor. Every time I’ve seen one of these guys’ backs against the wall, they up the ante and raise the stakes.
“Once these guys start clicking you’re going to see something special. I think the casual fan might say, ‘There’s not enough action.’ But for the purist, you’ll see some great, great stuff. It will become a classic. I think this is one fight I wish was 15 rounds because I think both guys are 15-round fighters and would have flourished in a 15-round era.
“I don’t have a pick right now. That’s the honest truth. I think we’re going to have the Fight of the Century. I wouldn’t be surprised if both guys hit the canvas. It’s so close and so many little things in the gym matter. I’m objective and have relationships with both teams. I really don’t have a pick right now. I just think it’s going to be a great fight.”
A press release by Premier Boxing Champions was used in this article.