Although it will have been at least a year since his last bout once the three-belt welterweight champion returns, Errol Spence Jr pushed back the idea of tune-up fights and said he wouldn’t be as motivated in training as he would if the opponent was a more known quantity who posed more danger. The 32-year-old, rumoured to defend his titles against PBC stablemate Keith Thurman next, is expected to finally face WBO champion Terence Crawford sometime this year.
After failed Crawford clash, Spence dismisses tune-ups
After clinching the WBA welterweight title from Yordenis Ugas last April, Errol Spence Jr was set to finish 2022 with a long-awaited megafight against WBO champion Terence Crawford, a matchup to finally unify the 147lb division – both have been vocal about wanting to move up.
Mooted for mid-November and with terms agreed, discussions broke down and instead Crawford signed a one-fight $10m deal with BLK Prime to face Russia’s British-baser former European champion David Avanesyan in his hometown Omaha last month.
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Crawford scored a sixth-round stoppage of Avanesyan, while Spence sustained minor injuries as he was involved in a car accident hours earlier that same evening. An underage, unlicensed driver ran a red light at speed, hitting him head-on – sustaining a leg injury after the collision.
That predictably delayed the announcement of his spring fight, and Spence has since said he expects an in-ring return to happen anywhere between April and June.
Every boxing champion, whether that be Dmitry Bivol or Tyson Fury and more besides, has mandatory title defences – facing opponents who’d be deemed a soft touch – but Spence dismissed that side of the sport when speaking to ESNews (h/t: BoxingScene.com)
“I don’t believe in tune-ups, know what I’m saying? They’re not with my pedigree, fighting someone I know I’m supposed to be and I know it’s a showcase fight.
I’m still gonna train hard – but not as hard as if I’m fighting a top dude with a name. I feel like the fans deserve it too, they don’t want to see me fight a bum dude or a showcase fight – they wanna see me fight the best of the business.”
- Spence’s quotes, lightly edited for clarity, on facing easier opposition
Elsewhere in the division, two budding unbeaten title hopefuls are set to collide this coming spring as the speculation over Crawford-Spence continues to rumble.
Lithuania’s Eimantas Stanionis, WBA regular champion, is set to defend his title against Vergil Ortiz Jr – the #1 contender across two sanctioning bodies for which Spence holds belts. There’s no date announced for that matchup, though it should take place around the same time.
Picture source: Getty Images