Almost every weekend there are boxes on your TV or streaming available. Often they are good, fascinating and entertaining fights.
But Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence didn’t turn out to be another good, intriguing and entertaining fight. It was a generational battle between two of the top three or five fighters in the world. It was the kind of fight that happens about every five years, pitting two undefeated world champions in their prime.
This fight would have – unfortunately not – boxing at its best.
The absurd business side of boxing won again, delivering a devastating body punch to fans of this unique, often amazing, and always unpredictable sport.
Crawford announced this late Thursday, in a story first reported by ESPN, that he will fight David Avanesyan on December 10th at the Chi Health Center in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. The kicker is that the fight is distributed BLK Prime Pay Per View at a cost of $39.95, meaning someone will lose millions upon millions of dollars if reports that Crawford is guaranteed to earn an eight-figure payday are correct.
It’s hard to blame Crawford the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world on Yahoo Sports Rankings for taking what will basically be a hard tune up for $10 million or more. It’s like finding a winning lottery ticket blowing in the wind.
The problem is that negotiations for this fight have been going on for a long time. Crawford announced after his last fight, which took place in Las Vegas last November against Shawn Porter, that he would not re-sign a promotional agreement with Top Rank because Top Rank could not get him the Spence fight.
Well, it now looks like top rank wasn’t the issue, right?
The old school boxers will always tell you that when fighters really want to fight each other, the fight is done. This should have been the easiest deal. They naturally bickered over who was the bigger draw, which is clearly ridiculous because they need each other to put up a big fight and fans don’t give a damn about that nonsense. They want to see the fight.
There were two simple ways to fight this fight: The best and easiest was to do a 50/50 revenue split. Since Spence has sold more pay-per-views than Crawford to date, his side insisted he be paid like the A-side. But that’s nonsense because without Crawford he would never make a big deal.
The other way would have been to guarantee each man the same amount – 45 or 47.5% – and the remaining 5 or 10% goes to the winner. Easy.
Crawford, of course, blamed Spence, saying Spence and PBC founder Al Haymon were to blame.
“I agreed to everyone [B.S.] and they’ve been pulling their butts for months,” Crawford told ESPN. “Spence was nowhere to be found while I was trying to make the deal.”
But if he agreed, he didn’t put pen to paper and instead of a fight that would bring the world to a standstill and draw attention to it, we’re going to get a one-sided bloodletting instead.
Spence told the Dallas Morning News that Crawford was to blame.
“I do not know who [Avanesyan] is,” Spence told his home newspaper. “I did everything I said and I’ll fight him next and we’ll see who stops the fight. Everyone can now see who is stopping the fight.”
There are so many good things happening in boxing right now and fresh young talent are coming into the sport at a fast pace. The fighters are now largely in agreement to fight the best and with their talent there are many excellent fights that have been fought recently and will be happening soon.
But a fight like Spence-Crawford would have been the showcase for everyone else. It would have made international headlines and A-list stars would have flocked to Las Vegas to see it. There have been so many classic welterweight title fights in the last 40 years and this would have been next.
Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran fought twice in 1980. Leonard fought Tommy Hearns in 1981. Oscar De La Hoya fought Felix Trinidad in a 1999 undefeated welterweight championship bout. Floyd Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao (after years of lengthy, torturous and, yes, nauseating negotiations) in 2015.
Crawford-Spence would have been the next big one in line.
Instead, it’s Crawford-Avanesyan again, and you have to pay $40 for the privilege of seeing it. Crawford has never been a magnet for pay-per-views, even when he was Top Rank, by far the best promoter in the business when it comes to star building and selling pay-per-views, and fighting his battles.
The moment he signed the contract to fight Avanesyan could also be the beginning of the end of BLK Prime as this promotion will bleed money. In three previous pay-per-view fights against Viktor Postol, Amir Khan and Porter, Crawford hasn’t sold 400,000 pay-per-views combined.
BLK Prime must pay Avanesyan, put together an undercard, market and promote the fight, and find sponsors. The CHI Health Center in Omaha might sell out because Crawford’s hometown fans have always been very supportive. But it won’t get a significant goal. This fight will be lucky if it hits 150,000 on pay-per-view, and if I had to guess I’d be more inclined to say plus or minus 100,000 buys.
The news in the boxing ring is almost always good. But this week, with WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury announcing a pointless third fight with Derek Chisora instead of a fight featuring unified champion Oleksandr Usyk and Crawford versus Avanesyan instead of Spence, the news is rotten as ever in the business of this sport.