By: Kirk Jackson
Retired, multi-divisional boxing champion, Timothy Bradley is accustomed to daring statements. Normally, they were in the form of his actions inside the boxing ring, but his recent statements regarding the welterweight scene – WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford and IBF welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence in particular, has the boxing world buzzing.
Yeah, he’s (Spence) ducking him. He’s ducking Terence Crawford,” stated Bradley, when asked about an anticipated fight between boxing’s top welterweights.
“He (Spence) don’t want to fight Terence Crawford. I’m telling you right now, because if he did, and he wanted to be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game, he’ll fight Terence Crawford. But the fact that he’s not fighting Terence Crawford, to me (means he’s ducking him). I don’t care about no side of the fence,” said Bradley in saying that Crawford and Spence being with rival promotional companies doesn’t matter.
“This is the world of boxing. It makes me sad when I watch a boxing event, and they don’t even have a champion like Terence Crawford in their lineup. That pisses me off. I’m like, ‘what are you doing? Do you have your own world of boxing over there? You have your own thing going on.’ It’s horrible, man. It’s not right, but it is what it is. I guess that’s what we’re going to say. It sucks.”
“Terence Crawford and Errol Spence are the two best welterweights in the game right now, period,” said Bradley to AB Boxing News.
“Then you’ve got Manny Pacquiao with along with them. Okay, I don’t know how it went down, but he didn’t fight Terence Crawford. To me, that tells me something. I can’t put Pacquiao over Terence Crawford. I can’t. Then you look at Errol Spence, what has he done so far?”
Bradley continued, “It’s not equal to what Pacquiao has done, but he’s the younger gun, he’s the bigger guy. He has the style that can give Pacquiao problems. In the Mikey Garcia fight, you saw that he threw over 1,000 punches. So he has the output, he has the know-how. He can give Pacquiao more than enough resistance, and probably pull off the win without a doubt in my mind. But TC (Terence Crawford) to me and Errol Spence are the two best guys at 147,” said Bradley.
As it pertains to Bradley’s proclamations, any fighter’s resume can be dissected and portrayed in various ways. Bradley’s recent statements, declaring Spence is flat-out ducking Crawford, may appear like a bit of a stretch.
Especially considering, Spence recently defeated a top 10 pound-for-pound opponent (Mikey Garcia) and is slated to unify welterweight world titles in September, against a multiple-time welterweight champion, Shawn Porter. While in comparison, the last two opponents for Crawford are David Benavidez and Amir Khan.
While Benavidez is considered a solid contender, it’s questionable how much he has left as a fighter on the elite level, due to injuries suffered in recent years.
Khan is a multiple division champion, but after suffering a devastating knock-out defeat to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez back in 2016, many also questioned how much he has left in the tank.
While Bud has a solid case comparatively to Spence, with a greater list of accolades head-to-head for their professional career up to this point, the standing may change depending on what happens within the next couple of years.
However, Spence arguably has the greater resume as far as opponents faced and defeated to this point.
“I don’t think we’ll ever see them fight. I really don’t,” said Bradley about the pairing of Spence and Crawford. “It’s terrible. Those guys should fight. The economics of boxing. That’s just the way it is, I guess. It freaking sucks. I want to see you guys get in, and stop saying you’re no. 1.”
“You fight Terence Crawford, and you fight Errol Spence. I know Terence wants the fight, but Errol ain’t saying nothing. Come on, you know what I’m saying? Terence, he’s been saying, ‘I want this fight. I want the Errol Spence fight,’ but they’re not answering that phone. They don’t want to do business,” said Bradley.
Contrary to Bradley’s belief however, both Spence and Crawford publicly stated the desire and necessity to fight each other to establish undisputed claim of welterweight supremacy.
Bradley is employed by ESPN and while in the midst of trashing the competition (Premier Boxing Champions), the former multi-divisional champion is neglecting to mention key aspects that weaken his argument.
The analysis appears one-sided from the former champion and a question to ponder is why the hyperbole from Bradley? Why such disdain for Spence? To solve this question, one only has to only look at all the connections.
Bradley and Crawford are good friends, “Bud” having trained and sparred with Bradley for subsequent camps leading up to his fights in the past. It’s obvious, even as an analyst, Bradley’s view on the situation will come across as biased.
It can be argued, Bradley is taking the same path as other ESPN contemporizes; bold proclamations, in such captivating attention and response, while in some cases, drawing the ire of a fan base, depending on the athlete or team featured as the subject of analysis.
Just to clarify, ESPN isn’t the only network or media outlet that may rely on intrepid declarations, “Shock-Jock” like analysis, or melodramatic trolling to draw ratings.
Interesting though, if we draw comparison to the opponent selection for another highly regarded champion, who happens to fight in a higher weight class across the ESPN network, Bradley appears tight-lipped when discussing the opponent selection of lineal and ESPN-branded heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Fury, while fighting to a disputed draw last December, has unfinished business with Wilder. While a deal is in place for Wilder and Fury to rematch at some point early in 2020, the optics of Fury vs. Tom Scharwz and against Otto Wallin is all but a good look.
Long story short; there is a long list of not optimal-opposition for many of Top Rank’s star-quality fighters. ESPN of course, primarily features Top Rank fighters.
Even if we’re in the age of network battles and promoter feuds, it’s hard to excuse Fury for his recent level of opposition.
Especially considering, many observers (myself included) believes he is as great as he says he is. If Fury defeated WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder as easily as he claims, his recent opposition does not exude that measure of confidence.
Vasyl Lomachenko and Crawford for that matter, are considered the top pound-for-pound fighters of boxing at this moment of time. They just so happen to be under Top Rank promotions. While they are certainly great fighters, it can be argued their recent string of opposition isn’t all that great.
Finances may play a factor in more ways than one, every fight has a negotiation process – typically between opposite management teams and in some cases opposing promotional companies, but Top Rank can do better than matching Lomachenko against Miguel Marriaga, Jason Sosa and Anthony Crolla.
And they can certainly do better, than matching “Bud” against Amir Khan, Jose Benavidez and Jeff Horn.
The Horn fight was about acquiring the WBO welterweight title, the Khan fight was a money fight and Benavidez was personal. Were any of these opponents considered the crème de la crème by boxing analysts and fans across the board?
Not suggesting the blame falls on Crawford or on Lomachenko, but Top Rank can do better with securing greater opponents. Top Rank and the other promoters can do better, but do they want to?
What’s difficult to excuse, is the lack of transparency from Bradley. He is a former fighter and being as he is so closely tied with Top Rank, his denigration of Spence in favor of Crawford comes across as doing Bob Arum’s dirty work.
If Bradley is honest with his analysis, other aforementioned issues would also be addressed, he would use his influence and stance to apply pressure on the promotional companies and networks to make the fights we all want to see.
Why wasn’t Bradley adamant about Pacquiao facing Crawford while they were both with Top Rank and considered the top guys around from 140-147?
When it comes ducking fights, why wasn’t Bradley trying to fight Spence, when he was awarded an opportunity for the WBC welterweight title as the mandated No. 1 challenger? He instead opted for retirement.
As it was reported in 2016 by Lance Pugmire of The Los Angeles Times, the World Boxing Council (WBC) ordered a fight between Tim Bradley and Errol Spence. This news was conveyed by Pugmire during the annual WBC convention.
“He said the WBC ordered the fight?” stated Bradley in the interview referencing Spence.
“He right, I fought Manny Pacquiao instead of Errol Spence for one. Two, this is the second thing now, when the hell have we been doing business, or anybody from Top Rank been doing business with Al Haymon?”
So with that statement, among other quotes from the interview, Bradley again contradicted himself.
The road block from keeping Spence and Crawford from happening is the difference with promotional companies. Spence is self-promoted and advised by Al Haymon, representing the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC). Crawford for the time being, is promoted through Arum and Top Rank.
Bradley claimed historically, the two sides do not do business together. So why only the blame on Spence, if there is no bias from a boxing analyst?
It can be difficult for two companies to work together, but Top Rank and PBC displayed in the past, the ability to work together.
That’s how Floyd Mayweather (advised by Haymon) ended up facing Manny Pacquiao (at the time promoted by Arum). Another example is Fury and Wilder – slated for next year.
In referencing the desire from Spence to face Pacquiao, why wouldn’t he possess the desire to face Pacquiao?
Sen. Pacquiao recently defeated Keith Thurman, he is one of the belt holders in the division, he is a future hall of famer and barring a comeback from Mayweather, Pacquiao arguably draws the most money in boxing.
Why wouldn’t Spence want Pacquiao on his resume, along with the world title and financial incentives that come with it?
It’s the same incentives Bradley chased on three occasions in reference to his matches with Pacquiao. It’s the same set of incentives Crawford has chased going on more than four years now.
What’s important to mention debunking this ducking narrative, both fighters acknowledge the need to face one another and concede neither fighter is ducking one another.
Both Crawford and Spence respect one another. While they may maintain a great measure of confidence in their unique abilities and talents, as they acknowledge one another as challenging contemporaries.
“Terence Crawford a fighter, man. I respect Terence Crawford. I got his number, he got my number,” said Spence, in an interview. “I respect him, I like him a lot, I feel like he’s a real fighter, a good guy, things like that, but it’s a business side too.”
Do you think Spence ducking you?
— David Aldea Jr. (@davidaldeajr) August 1, 2019
While it may take time for things to fall in order, this welterweight fantasy match-up, featuring the two best fighters, in boxing’s deepest division, is an absolute possibility.
Time will reveal if this potential match-up happens for one, and if it transpires, has historic implications like Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns, Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao or Felix Trinidad vs. Oscar De La Hoya.
For now, until proven otherwise, Crawford and Spence are on an eventual course to meet for the battle of welterweight supremacy. If there is ducking going on, there is not enough evidence suggesting it’s going on between these two at this given time.