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Welterweight superstars agree to title fight in Las Vegas

Updated May 25, 2023 - 3:27 pm

It’s finally happening.

Welterweight superstars Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford announced Thursday via social media that they’ve agreed to fight July 29 at T-Mobile Arena for the undisputed 147-pound championship, solidifying one of the most consequential and compelling megafights of the modern era between two of its greatest pound-for-pound boxers.

The announcement formally ends several months of on-and-off negotiations and begins for Crawford a two-fight deal with Premier Boxing Champions, which will present the fight via Showtime pay-per-view, with which Spence has long been aligned.

Spence (28-0, 22 knockouts), 33 and from Dallas, holds the IBF, WBA and WBC welterweight titles. Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs), 35 and from Omaha, Nebraska, is the WBO champion.

The contract includes a bilateral rematch clause the loser can activate within 30 days, all but ensuring a rematch — and potentially a trilogy that could shift into the 154-pound division, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

“Finally giving the fans what they want,” Spence wrote on Instagram, “this one a throwback fight on paper, but it could be a one-sided ass whooping one of the biggest fight of the century!”

Spence and Crawford have long ruled the 147-pound division, making in many ways their impending matchup long overdue.

Spence claimed the IBF title from Kell Brook via 11th-round knockout in 2017 and added the WBC title in 2019 by beating Shawn Porter by unanimous decision. He topped Yordenis Ugas by 10th-round knockout last April to add the WBA’s championship and subsequently called for Crawford in his post-fight interview with Showtime’s Jim Gray.

Crawford, formerly a champion at lightweight and the undisputed champion at junior welterweight, has held the WBO title since 2018, beating Jeff Horn by 10th-round knockout and completing six defenses with knockouts.

The penultimate of which — an 11th-round stoppage of Porter at Michelob Ultra Arena on Nov. 20, 2021 — concluded Crawford’s long-term promotional contract with Top Rank, thereby freeing him to negotiate with PBC and Spence.

Negotiations began following Spence’s victory over Ugas and a deal for a fight Nov. 19, 2022, was nearly finalized before collapsing at the 11th hour amid contractual concerns from Crawford. Instead of fighting Spence, Crawford ended a 13-month layoff to fight contender David Avanesyan in December, winning by sixth-round knockout in his native Omaha.

Spence considered a fight against former welterweight champion Keith Thurman, but a December car accident in which he was involved tabled prospective developments.

Direct talks between Spence and Crawford resumed in March and intensified this spring, culminating Thursday with their announcement.

Spence, a southpaw, is naturally bigger than Crawford and applies relentless pressure behind a scoring, power jab. He’s a deft body puncher who blends controlled aggression with raw power at range or on the inside, where he’s at his very best.

His pace and volume often overwhelm his opponents.

Crawford, though smaller, has a longer reach and a more amorphous style. He fights from both stances, often surveying the strengths of his opponents and adapting his approach throughout the course of the fight.

He can box or punch on the inside or outside and counter with impeccable timing and precision.

Crawford is a -120 favorite at the Westgate SuperBook (Spence +100), reflecting the competitive nature of the matchup.

“It’s on!!!!” Crawford wrote on Twitter.

Yes, it is.

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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