When Errol Spence Jr.’s mandatory IBF welterweight strap fight was announced as current WBA welterweight titlist Yordenis Ugas, the world collectively gasped.
Not because it isn’t a compelling fight, because it is, but due to the fan fervor surrounding Errol Spence and Terence Crawford as the ultimate welterweight showdown of this generation.
The Crawford Problem
The clamor for the bout isn’t globally sought as it was for Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao, but it is slightly comparable in America for diehard boxing fans.
It leaves more speculation on the mechanics of the boxing business, which for many is a murky environment of half-truths, hype mongering, and skepticism.
However, recently Premier Boxing Champions’ VP of communications, Tim Smith, shed some light on the A-side perspective of why the fight has yet to materialize.
Guns And Butter
“Economics, and you don’t really want to insult a guy like Terence Crawford, who is a tremendous talent, and I’m not taking away anything from his talent,” said Tim Smith on the latest episode of the PBC podcast. “But he hasn’t been built into a pay-per-view star.
“I’m not saying that to throw shade at the guy, but you’ve got to go on his track record. “You’ve got to go and look at what he’s done in the pay-per-view fights he’s been at, been involved in.”
According to The Ring Magazine, Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) has generated a combined 340,000 buys over three PPVs. In comparison, one Errol Spence Jr. PPV outperforms that number.
The Pitfalls Of Apps
Although many point the finger at Crawford’s lack of hype value, though highly debatable, it is a combination of low subscription sales from the ESPN+ app.
Crawford’s last fight against Shawn Porter was supposed to be his highest-profile bout to date and delivered with the first-ever stoppage of Porter. However, convincing people to trade the traditional pay-per-view format for streaming is difficult. Ask DAZN.
“It’s not my job to tell anybody how to tell him [Crawford] how to make him a pay-per-view star. We have enough work on our hands trying to make our own guys into pay-per-view guys, but he just hasn’t been built,” Smith continued.
Enough Beef To Make A Glizzy
There has been an intense animosity between Premier Boxing Champions creator and boxing adviser to the stars Al Haymon, and Crawford’s former promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank.
Crawford has been with Top Rank his whole career, and although he is a winner with no defeats, his profile has always been lower than most Haymon-advised PBC-branded fighters.
“Trust me, if there was money in him fighting Errol Spence and he could get what he wants, and Errol could get what he wants, that fight would get made, but you don’t want to insult the guy.
“Nobody wants to insult the guy and make him an offer that’s insulting. Nobody wants to do that. Like I said, he’s a proud champion, and you don’t want to do that to him.”
The Piracy Principle
Smith opens a conversation about piracy and combating the inevitable: availability of alternate streams for fans. According to Smith, the PBC is worried about that in the purse negotiations to ensure the fight makes fiscal sense.
“From a business standpoint, it’s a fight that might excite the fans and all the people out there yelling about pay-per-view and too much. They’re not buying it [Spence vs. Crawford] anyway. They’re not going to plop down any money to make it successful.
“They’re going to steal the fight, but they’re not going to support it on pay-per-view. The numbers won’t be enough to give him what he needs. Well, not necessarily what he needs, what he wants.
“I don’t know what that number is, but I would think that number would be VERY high. I’m not involved in those talks. That’s just looking at the sport historically, and I don’t think he should be insulted, I really don’t.”
Spence vs Crawford
Spence vs Ennis
Ennis vs Ortiz
Benn vs Avaneysan
Benn vs Ortiz https://t.co/5y6wFDFCfO
— #RingsideFracas (@Ringside_Fracas) January 1, 2022
You Don’t Know Boxing
With Smith providing the rare peek behind Al Haymon’s Wizard of Boxing curtain, the onus of promotion is placed squarely on Crawford’s inability to sell under Top Rank.
It must be noted that Crawford was a lightweight sensation and undisputed junior welterweight sensation before joining the “Money Weight” division made popular in recent years by Mayweather and Pacquiao.
Now that Crawford is moving independently, time will tell if his profile translates into a viable pay-per-view investment. Until then, the fans and stans will blame boxing for something that is essentially their fault.
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