If Al Haymon, Tom Brown, Stephen Espinoza and whoever else may be involved in the negotiations to put Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford in the ring against each other in their next bouts screw this up, may they be damned to watching “Ishtar” for the next 20 years with only limited bathroom breaks.
This can’t be screwed up. It can’t be put on the back burner. It can’t be allowed to marinate. Spence has to be the next opponent for Crawford and Crawford has to be the next opponent for Spence.
If it’s not, it will show how big of a joke this sport has become. And Haymon, Brown, Espinoza and Co. should be run out of town posthaste if they allow that to occur.
There can be no justification for anything else. If they fail you, walk away — no, run away — from this sport because it’s as good as dead in that case.
Boxing fans have pleaded with promoters to make Spence, now the IBF-WBA-WBC welterweight champion, and Crawford, the WBO champion, for years.
As so often happens in boxing, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears for ridiculous business reasons that have only hurt the sport’s credibility.
Imagine the Super Bowl not being held because one side didn’t like which network would televise it, or didn’t like doing business with the other team.
That nonsense, though, is what kept Spence and Crawford from fighting before this, and have either delayed so many fights or prevented so many quality fights from happening. In a sport filled with issues that have to be dealt with, getting this fight done ranks only behind a big-time mobster managing so many of its greatest stars.
Spence dusted Yordenis Ugas Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, stopping him at 1:44 of the 10th to claim the WBA strap and now holds three of the four major belts. Ugas opted to stand directly in front of Spence and not let his hands go much.
The result was that he got hit, repeatedly, by one of the sport’s hardest-hitting welterweights. Ugas’ right eye was swelling by the third, was closed by the eighth and caused the ringside physician to advise it be stopped in the 10th.
It was a brilliant performance by Spence, who is now 28-0 with 22 KOs.
None of those 28 wins will have the significance, or carry the interest, that a fight with Crawford will do.
Crawford is 38-0 with 29 knockouts and has held titles at lightweight and super lightweight before moving to welterweight.
Crawford is a vicious, mean, ornery fighter who happens to be a brilliant technician. No one in the game, not Spence, not pound-for-pound No. 1 Canelo Alvarez and not WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is better at exploiting an opponent’s weakness and breaking him down than Crawford.
Crawford can fight equally effective out of both stances, which drives opposing trainers nuts trying to prepare for him.
Spence is a southpaw and has been compared to the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard for his ability to adapt his game to the situation. Leonard was a great boxer who had fantastic hand and foot speed. But he was also as tough as an Outback steak, and had the power to hurt anyone he faced.
Spence showed some of those traits on Saturday. He looked as if he wanted to circle, move and use his jab, but when he saw that Ugas was content to stay on the inside and fight, he took advantage. Spence whipped withering hooks to the body and repeatedly came up the middle with crunching uppercuts, beating the fight out of the Cuban.
The folks who run boxing put their fans through the wringer. They charge for the most inept of matches, they don’t make the fights the fans really want to see, they do business with suspected murderers without much thought and they start the fights so late they shut out an entire generation of fans.
They owe Spence versus Crawford and they owe it to you at the earliest possible date. Oh, they’re going to charge you an arm and a leg for it, but the important thing is to get it done.
The Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight happened six years after it was first talked about and after both men were at their peaks. I am among those who believe Mayweather would have won whenever they had fought, but those who say the 2009 or 2010 version of Pacquiao would have taken him can’t be discounted.
Haymon, Espinoza and Co. can’t let that happen this time. They need to make the fight quickly, promote it vigorously and then let the two fistic geniuses settle it where it should always be settled: In the middle of that 20-by-20 ring.
I’ll say Crawford by decision because of his versatility, but I’ll be jumping for joy simply if it gets done.
It seems impossible to screw this up, but this is boxing and, well, we are all too well aware of how things often go.
If they don’t make it, though, never forget: Make them pay dearly if they don’t get it done.
You deserve this one. The sport deserves this one.