NEW YORK — For five years, the sports world waited and waited and waited for Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to finally fight. It was an agonizing process that was horrendous to follow and even worse to cover.
They finally met to unify welterweight belts in 2015, and although both were still outstanding fighters, they were not at the peak of their powers and it turned out to be a forgettable fight despite the riches it generated.
It feels like we’re headed in that direction yet again with another heavily anticipated fight, coincidentally also a welterweight unification match, this one between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr., two of the best in the world pound-for-pound. They’ve voiced their desire to fight each other. They even jawed with each other at a boxing card last fall. But big fights are not so easy to make, especially this one.
It’s another fight that would have to be made between Top Rank’s Bob Arum, Crawford’s promoter, and Premier Boxing Champions creator Al Haymon, who handles Spence’s career. Arum and Haymon don’t like each other, which is putting it mildly, and they rarely do business.
It’s also another fight that would involve two broadcast entities having to come together for a joint pay-per-view. Mayweather was with Showtime/CBS and Pacquiao was with HBO, and those companies finally made a deal. In the case of this potential fight, Crawford is tied to ESPN through Top Rank’s deal with the network and Spence is tied to PBC broadcasters Showtime and Fox.
On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, Crawford retained his title for the second time with a sixth-round stoppage of Amir Khan (33-5, 20 KOs), 32, of England, who had been knocked down in the first round, dominated and then did not continue because of an accidental low blow in the sixth round. It was a disappointing ending, but Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, the heavy favorite, proved his point that he was the better fighter.
After Khan was vanquished, Crawford once again said he wanted to face Spence (25-0, 21 KOs). Trainer and manager Brian McIntyre also said it — over and over at the postfight news conference.
Minutes after the fight, Arum came to the ringside media section and was far more interested in letting off steam about Crawford-Spence than in assessing Crawford-Khan and the unusual ending of Arum’s first ESPN PPV card.
Arum tried to forcefully make his case that the only one holding up Crawford-Spence was Haymon. He went in on Haymon hard, blaming him for refusing to even entertain the fight. He said Haymon would match Spence with only his other welterweights, including titleholders Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Pacquiao, who jumped from Top Rank to PBC late last year. He said Haymon was a “scamster.” And he pulled out the race card, insisting that Haymon, who is black, would keep Spence from fighting Crawford.
“He’s gonna say, ‘Spence, listen to me. Don’t listen to the white guys [like Arum], because if you listen to the white guys, they’re gonna steer you down the road,'” Arum told the writers. “‘Listen to me, brother. We’re part of a brotherhood. And if I tell you not to fight Crawford, I’m telling you not to fight Crawford.’ That’s exactly what he will say.”
Arum also weirdly blamed “the boxing writers” for Crawford-Spence not being made, as though the writers are a monolithic group with the ability to force a fight.
“You writers have to understand,” an animated Arum said, “I don’t care what publications you write for, what website, who’s supporting it, Al Haymon won’t make fights. [Deontay] Wilder won’t fight [Anthony] Joshua. Why? Because of Al Haymon. Spence won’t fight Crawford, not because of Spence but because of Al Haymon. … He is a scamster, and unless he’s called out, and unless you people [the boxing writers] get off your ass and call him out, it’s gonna continue. I really put a lot of the blame on the boxing writers. It is inexcusable not to make fights that people wanna see.”
I feel Arum’s pain, but I assure you it’s not a group of reporters preventing this fight or any other one. I’m quite certain all of my ringside colleagues also very much want to see Crawford-Spence. As for the notoriously reclusive Haymon, he doesn’t speak to the media and has never commented on this — or anything, for that matter. PBC spokesman Tim Smith brushed off Arum’s comments.
Stephen A. Smith picks Errol Spence Jr. over Terence Crawford for the potential huge boxing matchup.
“It’s not Al’s way to negotiate through the media,” Smith said. “He has made meaningful fights in the past with various promoters — Canelo [Alvarez]-[Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr., Canelo-Khan, [Daniel] Jacobs-GGG, [Kell] Brook-Spence. As for Arum’s other statements, they’re not worth commenting on.”
McIntyre said Arum’s scorched-earth way of approaching things isn’t conducive to making the fight.
“That probably won’t get the job done,” he said.
So we will all wait and wait and wait some more before we see Crawford-Spence, if we ever do. In the meantime, I’m not going to worry about it. I’ve been down this road before with other tough fights to make, and I refuse to get emotional about it because, although Arum thinks differently, boxing writers don’t make fights. If we did, Crawford-Spence would already be signed, sealed and scheduled.
Performance of the weekend: Danny Garcia
Former two-division titlist Danny Garcia had lost two of his last three fights, a split decision in a 2017 welterweight title unification fight with Keith Thurman and another close one to Shawn Porter for a vacant title in his last fight in September. He had sandwiched those losses around a knockout win over long-faded Brandon Rios, but he still felt like he needed an impressive win over Adrian Granados when they met in the Premier Boxing Champions main event Saturday night in Carson, California.
Garcia said he would not be satisfied with just a decision. He wanted to become the first man to stop Granados, who had gone the distance with several good opponents, including Porter and Adrien Broner, and he did just that in a very impressive, razor-sharp performance.
Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs), 31, of Philadelphia, dropped Granados (20-7-2, 14 KOs), 29, of Chicago, three times en route to a seventh-round stoppage in which he won every round on all three scorecards. He floored Granados twice in the second round, first on a perfect counter left hook and then with an overhand right, and put him down again with a combination in the fifth round.
Danny Garcia clobbers Adrian Granados with multiple knockdowns and finishes the fight in the seventh round via TKO.
Granados, who began bleeding heavily from his nose in the fifth round, hung in a bit longer, but when Garcia was pounding him along the ropes in the seventh round, referee Thomas Taylor stopped it at 1 minute, 33 seconds.
Garcia looked as good as he has in a long time.
“I had gotten a little comfortable in the past, but I put my 110 percent into this fight, and when I do, I beat everyone,” he said. “It felt good landing that big left hook. I was proud of my performance. The way to make a statement was to stop him.”
The next step: The victory figures to lead Garcia to another major fight. He’d like to avenge his losses, but two other PBC welterweights are also out there that he’d like to tangle with. “I hope I didn’t scare Manny Pacquiao away,” Garcia said. “I’d love a rematch with Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman, or a fight with Errol Spence Jr. I’m back!”
Fights you might have missed
Saturday at Carson, Calif.
Heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr. (32-1, 21 KOs) TKO5 Alexander Dimitrenko (41-5, 26 KOs).
Ruiz’s only loss came by majority decision to Joseph Parker for a vacant world title in December 2016, but the 29-year-old heavyweight from Imperial, California, has won three in a row since. In his first fight since Premier Boxing Champions bought out the rest of his contract from Top Rank, Ruiz beat down Dimitrenko, 36, a Russian fighting out of Germany, to hand him his second stoppage loss in a row.
Ruiz showed off his fast hands as he stalked and pummeled Dimitrenko to the head and body until Dimitrenko’s corner advised referee Ray Corona that he could not go on. After the fight, Ruiz called out fellow PBC contender Adam Kownacki.
Junior featherweight Brandon Figueroa (19-0, 14 KOs) TKO8 Yonfrez Parejo (22-4-1, 11 KOs), wins a vacant interim title.
Figueroa, 22, of Weslaco, Texas, the younger brother of former lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa Jr., looked very good as he took apart Parejo, 32, of Venezuela, in dominant fashion. Parejo, who is not much of a puncher, had little to keep the hard-charging Figueroa off him. Figueroa applied tremendous pressure and just wore Parejo down. Figueroa had a very big eighth round, after which Parejo quit on his stool.
Super middleweight Alfredo Angulo (25-7, 21 KOs) KO2 Evert Bravo (24-10-1, 18 KOs).
Angulo, 36, of Mexico, a former junior middleweight contender, had lost his two previous fights, decisions in 2016 and 2018, but notched a one-sided win over Bravo, 33, of Colombia, who lost his third fight in a row by knockout inside two rounds. Angulo, trained by Abel Sanchez, battered Bravo in the second round, nailing him with a boatload of punches, including a clean right hand at the end of the sequence that put him down. Bravo tried to get up, but referee Rudy Barragan waved off the count at 1:23.
Bantamweight John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18 KOs) TKO12 Ricardo “Hindu” Espinoza (23-3, 20 KOs), wins a vacant interim title.
With titlist Zolani Tete tied up in the World Boxing Super Series tournament and due to meet Nonito Donaire in a title unification fight in the semifinals on Saturday, Casimero, 30, of the Philippines, a former flyweight and junior flyweight world titleholder, met Espinoza, 21, of Mexico, for an interim belt. Casimero dropped him with a right hand in the sixth round and with a left early in the 12th round. Casimero was all over Espinoza during the follow-up attack, and referee Rudy Barragan stopped the bout at 44 seconds. It had been a close fight. Going into the 12th round, one judge had it 104-104, one had Casimero up 105-103 and one had Espinoza up 105-103.