- Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr., expected to happen early next year, fell through in the last hour.
- The Insider took an inside look at how boxing’s biggest fight died.
- It is unclear if or when it can be revived.
LAS VEGAS – Boxing’s biggest fight has fallen apart in the last hour.
Representatives for American boxers Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. had been discussing a welterweight superfight since the summer, Insider reported in June.
The fight would determine the undisputed world championship at 147kg and, perhaps, the #1 fighter in the entire sport.
Crawford and Spence have so much pedigree that a fight between them would be the most important welterweight showdown since Floyd Mayweather ousted Manny Pacquiao in 2015. Athletes and celebrities would have packed the VIP seats at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and fans likely dressed to the nines as the fight would be an event for the fighters, the city and the sport.
“I want Terence Crawford next,” Spence said after finishing Yordenis Ugas in style on Showtime Sports earlier this year. “This is the fight I want. This is the fight everyone else wants.”
On Boxing Scene later in the year, Spence said: “I think it’s going to happen. He wants the fight. I want the fight.”
—Errol Spence (@ErrolSpenceJr) October 5, 2022
Spence, Crawford and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) boss Al Haymon wanted that fight to happen, a key source with knowledge of the situation told Insider in October.
But after nearly six months of negotiations, the deal is now dead and it is unclear when or if it will be renewed.
So what went wrong?
Two sources with knowledge of the Crawford vs. Spence negotiations told Insider in June that discussions about the mega-fight were ongoing and November was a likely month for the event to take place.
With no official announcement in October, Insider checked back in with those sources at the time and was told the fight “will happen,” despite the protracted nature of the talks.
Organizers pushed the race from November to early 2023 so they could promote the race adequately. With a promotion of three to four months, the fight would have a better chance of catching fire and surpassing boxing to become a major talking point across all sports, a source said.
Crawford, according to sources involved in the fight, wanted transparency about the finances, including how much money the event generated to ensure his percentage of the purse (payout) was an accurate reflection of the success of the fight.
“He was going to get transparent,” a source told Insider, adding that Crawford made an “unusual” request to also oversee marketing spending for the show.
A boxer isn’t usually involved in that side as he focuses on training and fighting, rather than signing on to, say, $200,000 worth of expenses that could include things like press trips, free airline tickets for fighter teams and soon.
According to a source with knowledge of the negotiation, PBC nevertheless agreed and sent Crawford an updated contract after meeting his final demands.
However, Crawford never responded.
Instead, he announced an alternative deal with a specialty platform called BLK Prime and said he would fight David Avenesyan in December.
Before Crawford’s acquisition, BLK Prime aired glorified club shows. Despite $5 million in annual revenue according to ZoomInfo figures, BLK Prime guaranteed Crawford $10 million, the fighter said.
That side deal “blindsided” Spence and PBC staff, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations. “No one saw this coming,” said a source.
The PBC expected the fight to be finalized and had no idea Crawford was “actually working on a side deal,” the source added.
Insider reached out to representatives for Crawford on Thursday, but did not hear back.
Crawford and Spence feuded on social media
Crawford said in an Instagram Live video this week that representatives of two unnamed hedge funds wanted to pay him $25 million and Spence $25 million as guarantees for the superfight.
Crawford said he presented this offer to Spence, who reportedly asked about “the backend,” meaning the money that could come in if the fight proves successful at the box office — something that isn’t known until after it’s over. of the series.
Insider confirmed this mystery offer with two sources close to the negotiations, who said it was rejected because it was from unknown sources, with no indication of how the fighters would be compensated if pay-per-view sales were significant.
A source, who was also close to the Mayweather and Pacquiao negotiations, said that Pacquiao’s representative at the time, Bob Arum, laughed off a flat offer of $42 million. According to this source, the Top Rank boss knew how big the payoff would be on the backend.
Pacquiao went on to leave the ring $72 million to $76 million richer and received an even bigger check later when the pay-per-view taped to show a record 4.6 million US households bought the event.
Haymon didn’t believe Spence or Crawford should cover the $25 million, the source said.
A third source with knowledge of the pay-per-view business pointed to Jake Paul’s recent eight-round victory over Anderson Silva, which topped 300,000 pay-per-view sales on Showtime.
While that figure makes sense in today’s tough pay-per-view market, it doesn’t touch boxing greats Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez or Deontay Wilder, the American heavyweight who fought a trilogy with Tyson Fury.
The difference between Jake Paul, and Spence-Crawford or Wilder-Fury, is that the latter two bouts represent significant athletic competitiveness, with athletes at – or near – the peak of their boxing powers, this source said.
If a Spence-Crawford fight mirrors the popularity of the Wilder-Fury trilogy, then, at $89.99, it could have brought in about $67.5 million — more than the alleged combined fees offered by the mysterious hedge funds.
The backend, for Spence’s team and the PBC, was always going to be important, according to a source close to the negotiation, as they always expected it to become a big, mainstream sporting event.
Spence reacted to Crawford’s Instagram Live video
“Why does it take you two weeks to say something?” Spence said in a tweet in Crawford this week.
The three-belt welterweight champion said Crawford claimed “his concerns about transparency in the revenue and expenses for the fight was the big issue that killed the negotiations.
“My side agreed to show him everything.”
Spence then challenged Crawford to publish the draft contract in early summer, which would show that his demands had been met.
—Errol Spence (@ErrolSpenceJr) November 3, 2022
Spence also referred to the mysterious Hedge Fund offer made by Crawford. “He couldn’t tell me” where the source of the money was, he said.
“This dude is a clown” Crawford wrote about Spenceadding that he felt his opponent’s team was trying to “pull this deal,” which is why he took the alternative deal from BLK Prime to fight Avenesyan next month.
—Terence Crawford (@terencecrawford) November 3, 2022
Where could Spence and Crawford go from here
Crawford already has a fight against David Avenesyan set for Dec. 10 at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s the fight he apparently arranged while the deal from Spence and the PBC was still on the table.
Spence doesn’t have an official fight of his own, but he has options, as he could box his PBC partner Keith Thurman or a mandatory opponent in one of his world championships, such as Eimantas Stanionis.
He could even leave the welterweight division entirely and pursue a fight at 154 pounds.
I tweeted in mid-October that, with the Spence vs. Crawford in disarray, a battle between Spence and “The Towering Inferno” Sebastian Fundora would be a powerful consolation. Spence himself liked the tweet.
—Al Dawson (@AlanDawsonSport) October 21, 2022
A source close to Spence told us this means the fighter is “not only interested in Fundora but maybe in the super welterweight division in general.”
Is a Crawford-Spence superfight dead?
A superfight involving Crawford and Spence could still happen if they come out of these separate fights unscathed.
Haymon “would like to continue doing the job,” a source close to the PBC boss told Insider.
“Errol is still open to the fight,” a source close to Spence told us.
Organizers of the collapsed race are concerned, however, that if the race was problematic the first time, then it could be problematic again in the future.
If Crawford wanted a tune-up fight in 2022, then maybe there was a way to make it happen that could elevate a fight with Spence.
One of Insider’s boxing sources close to the bout said Crawford and Spence could have shared a card, albeit in separate bouts, with the winners meeting in the ring to announce the superfight in front of a significant global audience. .
“That type of pay-per-view would give an indication of how well a fight involving both Crawford and Spence would do at the box office,” the source told us.
It’s unclear if Crawford’s BLK Prime pay-per-view will succeed or fail.
But if he had fought on the same card as Spence, to hype a superfight, then he might have been in a different negotiating position than he might have been if the BLK fight failed at the box office.
As things stand right now, though, we have a deal that died, and uncertainty as to whether two of boxing’s greatest fighters will ever fight to determine the true No. 1.