Fight Picks: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford
They say all good things are worth waiting for. We hope that is the case when IBF, WBA and WBC welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr. meets WBO counterpart Terence Crawford for the vacant Ring championship at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas on Saturday.
The mouth-watering clash of titans will be broadcast live on Showtime Pay-Per-View beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Spence (28-0, 22 knockouts), The Ring’s No. 1 rated welterweight, represented the U.S. at the London 2012 Olympics. After turning pro, he moved up the ranks quickly, notably beating perennial contender Chris Van Heerden (TKO 8) and former junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri (TKO 5), before proving his mettle by stopping Kell Brook (TKO 11) on the road in England to win the IBF welterweight title.
The 33-year-old southpaw has made six defenses and added WBA and WBC titles. He holds championship wins over Mikey Garcia (UD 12), Shawn Porter (SD 12), Danny Garcia (UD 12) and Yordenis Ugas (TKO 10).
Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs), The Ring’s No. 2 rated welterweight, was also a standout amateur, claiming multiple national titles before turning professional in 2008. The Nebraska native’s big break came when he stepped in on three days’ notice to whitewash former Amir Khan conqueror, Breidis Prescott (UD 10).
The super-talented American switch-hitter went on to win titles at 135, 140 and 147. However, it was his body of work at junior welterweight, where he became undisputed champion, which separated him from the rest. Since moving to welterweight, the 35-year-old has claimed the WBO title and made six successful defenses. Notable wins at 147 include Khan (TKO 6), Brook (TKO 4), Porter (TKO 10), and most recently, David Avanesyan (KO 6).
How will Spence (28-0, 22 knockouts) deal with the switch-hitting of Crawford? How will Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs) find the strength and physicality of Spence? Crawford is known for his in ring IQ, if he takes the upper hand, can Spence wrest it back and turn the tide in his direction? This is by far the biggest fight either man has been involved in, how will they deal with the added pressure that comes with a superfight? This is a fight of small margins, can one of them create a slight edge to help them over the line?
Online gambling group William Hill lists Crawford as a 4/6 (-150) favorite, while Spence is priced at 13/10 (+130) the draw is 14/1 (+1400).
Here’s how the experts see it:
DOUG FISCHER: CRAWFORD TKO
“It’s one of the best matchups to be made in boxing and I’m glad we’re finally getting it. Despite their age and inactivity, the fight should deliver due to their styles. Spence is a busy, come-forward technician with heavy hands. Crawford is a versatile switch-hitting boxer-fighter with a mean streak and a frightening killer instinct. If the bout goes the full 12, it will be hard for Crawford, who usually starts slow and fights in spots, to earn a decision. Spence is not only the busier fighter, he’s the house favorite. And these guys are in Las Vegas. You all know how it is in boxing. Crawford knows this, so I expect him to really gun for the KO over the second half. I think he’ll find the right punch at the right time and force a stoppage sometime after Round 9. Crawford by late TKO.”
ANSON WAINWRIGHT: CRAWFORD MD
“I go back and forth on this one and change my mind multiple times a day, I don’t know anyone who is confident in their prediction in this fight. It’s the most anticipated fight in boxing for many years and is so evenly poised. Spence figures to have advantages in size and strength, while Crawford may be the more adaptable and creative with his offense. Both are too good not to have moments. However, I feel this may be a high-class chess match for a few rounds with both giving the other different looks. That will allow Crawford to download the necessary data and start to inch ahead, I think Spence comes back at him in the middle-rounds but Crawford will do the better work in the later rounds and edge home by 12-round decision, maybe majority decision.”
DIEGO MORILLA: CRAWFORD PTS
“Finally, a true, bonafide 50-50 fight in boxing that will resonate in history. And just as it has happened before in such cases, expecting an all-out war in the Hagler-Hearns mold is not a good idea. And we’ve seen unexciting performances from both of these fighters before, so I am counting on at least six rounds of a highly tactical game of chess, with the action starting to pick up as the pieces start being moved off the board and someone starts looking more seriously for the other’s mistakes. Spence has made a few. Crawford? Almost none. If it comes down to the guy who made the least mistakes throughout the fight, it will be Crawford, no doubt.”
MARTY MULCAHEY: SPENCE UD
“Up until Errol Spence’s clash with Yordenis Ugas I was firmly in the camp of people who favored Terence Crawford in this showdown. However, the physicality and way Spence worked through and outmaneuvered Ugas’ changed my thought process. While it will not be easy, since both men are expert at negating foes best traits, I don’t see Crawford mounting enough consistent offense for the judges to reward him in the close rounds either. The forward momentum should be Spence, and even if he walks into some big counter shots by Crawford he has shown the chin to ride those out. The only negative I can find for Spence is his recent lack of ring activity, but again it did not seem to affect him in the Ugas fight. The fights goes the distance, and because both are undervalued defensively I could see this being a rather uneventful clash in the vein of Trinidad-De La Hoya. Final scorecards should read in the 116-112 range in favor of Spence.”
NORM FRAUENHEIM: CRAWFORD UD
“At his best, Crawford is The Sweetest Scientist in his era. His pound-for-pound run has been marked by a high-ring IQ, quicksilver-like versatility, precision and power. He calculates early, adjusts midway and finishes late. It’s a process, as deadly as it is dynamic. For Errol Spence, the task is to interrupt it just as it begins. Spence has the ability to force Crawford to scramble before he can calculate. He’s bigger, stronger. Spence’s fundamental skill set is imposing. It’ll have to be if he hopes to alter a proven process that allows Crawford to get into a rhythm and then attack weaknesses throughout the middle rounds. Don’t be surprised if an aggressive Spence lands some big punches early. Don’t be surprised by a knockdown. But don’t be surprised if Crawford survives the assault. Guess here: His proven smarts are durable. He’ll adjust in ways we’ve yet to see in a bout that will test both with challenges they’ve never encountered. In the end, Crawford figures to think through the adversity for a narrow victory on all three scorecards.”
DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): SPENCE TKO 12
“The fight we’ve been waiting for is fast approaching. Spence versus Crawford is as good as it gets, the two best fighters’ pound-for-pound go head-to-head. While many experts pick Crawford to win with his switch-hitting style, I see Spence winning this exciting battle between two undefeated champions. While Crawford has moved through weight divisions to cement his legacy as a pound for pound great, Spence is a career welterweight and as the old saying goes a good big one beats a good little one. Crawford won’t be able to keep Spence at bay for 12-rounds. I feel Crawford will get off to a good start and may even be ahead after four or five rounds. Spence is an excellent body puncher and an excellent finisher. Spence will almost certainly dominate Crawford on the inside and his southpaw jab will work overtime. I believe we will see a different side to Spence, a rough-house fight is the order of the day! Spence wins this late 12th round TKO.”
SERGIO MORA (FORMER JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER/ COMMENTATOR): SPENCE PTS
“This is the type of fight where too much respect will be at hand and both will be careful not make mistakes. I slightly favor Spence because he’s naturally bigger, maybe stronger fighter, plus always coming forward! In a close fight the fighter pushing the fight usually gets more credit in close rounds. Spence by close decision.”
BRAD GOODMAN (MATCHMAKER/ TOP RANK): CRAWFORD PTS
“A fight I can’t wait for. This is what makes boxing great. When two of the best face each other and put it all on the line to see who really is the No. 1 welterweight. I know Crawford and his team have been wanting this fight for the longest and I’m sure Spence and his team have wanted it as well. Both guys have advantages over each other in certain categories and I think it comes down to who’s game plan works on this night because that’s how even up this fight is. It’s so hard to call. Does Spence’s build up an early lead and keep up that relentless pressure and try to eventually break Bud down or does Bud go out like he does in all his fights and figure out a way to start landing his counter shots once he starts closing the distance and start doing damage? It’s so damn hard to pick and that’s why it’s such a great fight. Both guys are such class acts, I’m happy they finally got their dream fight. I know how much this means to Terence as I’m speaking on a personal level now and I know how competitive he is as an individual. There is something special about him. He wanted this fight for years and was always confident in it. Crawford by decision.”
TOM GRAY (FORMER MANAGING EDITOR FOR THE RING): CRAWFORD UD
“I’ve always liked Crawford in this matchup, and to simplify it, I just believe he’s the better fighter. Spence is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but Crawford is the one sprinkled with magic dust. He can do it all: box, fight, lead, counter, and switch. He can turn it on early or he can turn it on late. He can take you out with head shots or he can take you out with body shots. I don’t think you know how good Crawford is until you’re in there with him. Unfortunately for Spence, I don’t think natural size is the equalizer here. In fact, he may have overstayed his welcome at 147 pounds and that could come back to haunt him. I like “Bud” big in this fight.”
JOE ROTONDA (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): CRAWFORD TKO
“This fight couldn’t be more complicated to pick a winner, both of these guys are so good in so many different areas. Spence is tremendous at measuring distance in the ring and not getting hit too much. Crawford has next-level killer instinct and an incredible fight IQ; he’s pulled off so many stoppages in the second half of fights due to his ability to figure guys out. Two guys with such contrasting styles, I think it simply comes down to who wants it more, and I believe Crawford has a chip on his shoulder and will win quite impressively via TKO late in the fight.”
KATHY DUVA (PROMOTER, MAIN EVENTS): CRAWFORD TKO
“While this fight is the type that is so competitive on paper as to be inherently unpredictable, if forced to choose, I will go with Crawford. I believe that, in the end, his experience and punching power will carry the day. I can’t base this on much more than a gut feeling, but I will go out on a limb and say that I would not be shocked if Crawford stops Spence in the championship rounds.”
MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): SPENCE MD
“I was hoping so much that I was not asked my opinion on this fight but what a matchup. I mentioned it several times…before his car accident I considered Spence as the best pound-for-pound boxer and even if the last performances were good, you do not get out of an accident like that without leaving a little something. The two boxers can challenger each other in all departments… speed… ability…strength, technique. I see a very high-level fight and Spence cross the line narrowly before Crawford. Spence majority decision.”
CAMILLE ESTEPHAN (PROMOTER, EYE OF THE TIGER): CRAWFORD
“what an exciting fight for boxing! It will be a war and I see Crawford coming out on top. I don’t know if he will maintain his knockout streak but I see him winning for two major reasons. Firstly inactivity on the part of Spence will weigh against him as inactivity is a boxer’s worst enemy, secondly I think Crawford’s offence, speed, reach will give Spence quite a bit of trouble to solve.”
RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ COMMENTATOR): SPENCE TKO 10
“I’m very excited about this fight glad it’s finally happening. It better live up to all the hype. It’s a 50/50 fight. Two high level fighters. Spence is naturally the bigger man. He is a grinder gets better as the fight goes. Crawford has to box, box and box. Stay very disciplined. Crawford gives Spence some problems early on but in second half of the fight Spence breaks him. Referee jumps in and save’s Crawford from further damage in round 10.”
ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): CRAWFORD PTS
“Like many of the best fights in boxing (take note current heavyweights) this is a few years past it’s sell by date but it’s still a cracker. Stylistically it’s a great match up too. Spence brings intimidating, intelligent pressure while Crawford loves decoding then breaking down opponents. In a way, they’re made for each other and because of the styles, the ingredients for scoring controversy are there. Spence might capitalize on the Crawford slow start, remember that revealing interaction in Terence’s corner during the Porter fight so TC might have to start in a higher gear and earlier if he’s to win. The style of Spence will be easier to reward on the scorecards and might be the percentage call but Crawford is so good, so clever and on this night of nights I think he will produce the performance that his talents deserve. Crawford by decision.”
RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): CRAWFORD UD
“It’s about time they’re fighting, but as far as I’m concern, I don’t care to watch a fight that should’ve happened several years ago. Why. Because we’re getting an older version of what we could’ve had. Greed on both sides. I understand them wanting to get paid, but when fighting only once a year or two. And expect to be that fighter who demands millions and millions. Maybe I’m too old school and am greedy since I saw great fights in the past. I’m picking Crawford because I believe he has a little bit more of a bite in him as a person and a fighter. He’s also better at taking care of his body by being a professional. I really, really hope that it’s a great fight because boxing needs it. Crawford by unanimous decision in a close fight.”
ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER): SPENCE UD
“WOW! How exciting has 2023 become mainly because we finally witness this can’t miss classic. I respect and admire both these champions. Spence Jr. vs. Crawford is today’s Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns and just like Leonard vs. Hearns was so evenly matched, so is this. A true 50/50 undefeated vs. undefeated, champion vs. champion. They match up very well Spence a great inside fighter, Crawford who can switch stance and will look to use the ring more and stay outside. I believe if history repeats itself and this will be no different, while both have their moments in a back-and-forth battle, we will see like we saw in 1981 Leonard come from behind to beat Hearns, in 2023 Leonard is Spence Jr and Hearns is Crawford. Ladies and gentlemen, the winner and undisputed welterweight king from Dallas, Texas, Errol Spence Jr. by 12-round unanimous decision.”
JOHN SCULLY (TRAINER): CRAWFORD PTS
“I think it’s a high-level, very intense fight, and I’ve got Terence Crawford, being more versatile and trickier than Errol Spence and utilizing those advantages to win a solid 12-round decision.”
BOB SANTOS (MANAGER/ TRAINER): SPENCE
“Super, super tough fight. Realistically, it’s a pick ’em fight but I think in the end Spence physicality will lead him to a close decision win.”
RUSS ANBER (TRAINER/ CUTMAN): CRAWFORD
“I think I like Bud here. I can see Spence getting an early lead but if he doesn’t get Bud out of there I see Bud coming on down the stretch. Probably a points win in a highly competitive and exciting fight.”
WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ TRAINER): SPENCE PTS
“For me, Spence is the bigger man naturally having started his career in this division. Crawford who started his career as a lightweight winning a world title before moving up and winning a belt at junior welter and welter along the way has grown into this welterweight division. I think the rounds are going to be very close and hard to score. Crawford might start a little faster than Spence and pick up the early rounds with his speed using right jabs and quick right hooks. Spence I think will step it up a little after first four rounds using long southpaw right jabs to score well and start winning rounds. This fight might come down to the last few rounds with Spence slightly edging the final two to win on points 7-5 in rounds.”
Final Tally: Crawford 13-8
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].