Winner of Spence-Crawford undisputed clash will have many top contenders to defend against
There is a Chinese proverb that dictates ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’
In the case of Spence vs Crawford, the best time to make the fight may be more accurately placed at 2-3 years ago, but nevertheless the notion still rings true. In a weeks’ time on Saturday night, finally after years of debate over who is the A side and external factors disrupting negotiations, the top two dominant undefeated 147-pounders and P4P elite, Errol Spence and Terence Crawford will meet in Las Vegas to battle it out for undisputed supremacy.
Looking back at when we first heard rumours this fight was close to being made, 2 years ago Errol Spence had just come off a great performance, running out a conclusive winner in a competitive 12 round fight with fellow top Welterweight Danny Garcia. Reminding everyone that the 147lb division had 2 dominant forces, Terence Crawford had himself just demolished a post prime Kell Brook. The stage was finally set to make the biggest fight in boxing, before tragedy struck and Spence suffered significant injuries in a serious car accident.
In the two and a half years that have followed, ‘The Truth’ has fought just once vs Yordenis Ugas, with ‘Bud’ similarly lacking activity and last time out getting touched a tad more than usual against David Avanesyan. Despite this, the general boxing fraternity still seems to be in a state of disbelief that the fight is happening at all. Even if there may be slight question marks over if both fighters are still at the peak of their powers, it is by far the best fight that could be made in boxing this year.
In the time we have been waiting for this fight to finally be made however, a third potential ruler at Welter has emerged, in the form of Jaron Ennis. The 26-year-old Philadelphian has been comparatively active, fighting 3 times in the last 14 months, with each recent performance being as impressive as the last. His record currently stands at 31 fights unbeaten, with a frightening 28 of those coming inside the distance.
Although still lacking an elite top 5 name on his resume, it has been the manner of which Ennis has dismantled his previous foes that has made the boxing world stand up and take notice.
Battle hardened and legitimate contender Sergey Lipinets, whom no one before or after has dealt with handily, was wiped out in 6 rounds after a methodical beating. In his next two outings, fringe top 10 fighters Thomas Dulorme and Custio Clayton lasted just 3 rounds between them, before posting a 12-round shut out against Karen Chukhadzhian.
In his most recent showcase against the tough and game Roiman Villa, himself coming off a great win against Rashidi Ellis, we saw ‘Boots’ run through his entire repertoire, mixing it up between counter punching as a righty or lefty, even at times standing in the pocket, which is where the ruthless finish came. After a sustained period fighting on the inside, on this occasion out of the southpaw stance, in round 10 the dynamite fisted slickster lured Villa in before taking half a step back to make space for a devasting left hook right hook combination, leaving the Venezuelan brawler in a heap against the bottom rope.
Despite this hugely impressive run, there is no doubt that the winner on July 29th between Spence and Crawford, with undisputed champion status, asserts themselves as the dominant Welterweight of the post Mayweather era, in a division that has seen other top fighters such as Brook, Thurman and Garcia have moments of perceived superiority, but never for a prolonged period.
My question however, is given the rapid ascent of the widely perceived heir to the 147lb throne, have we waited that long to see this fight that although asserting themselves as undisputed champ, we are going to be immediately clamouring for them to prove their claim as number 1 by facing Ennis? If either Spence or Crawford, at 33 and 35 respectively, were to accept the challenge of the 26-year-old, fresh interim IBF title holder, could we in fact see a changing of the guard? Any combination of these 3 sensational fighters would be a scintillating, closely matched affair, but the performances of Ennis have been such that many boxing fans and pundits have begun to ask themselves this very question.
Even if the boxing world would be desperate to see this play out, the likely scenarios following the conclusion of the super fight next Saturday and the contractually agreed rematch taking place, would see the proven superior of the leading couplet of the Welterweight division making the jump to Junior Middleweight. Failing this we could even see them retire. If they elected for this option, they would be doing so in a position that most hall of famer’s would be envious of. With all of this in mind and with a new heir primed to take over, in just 12 months-time from the battle for be crowned undisputed king, in Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis, the ruler of the division may well have a new face altogether.
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