By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Errol Spence Jr. couldn’t help himself.
The unbeaten IBF welterweight champion chastised promoter Bob Arum once Spence learned that the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan fight likely drew less than half the pay-per-view buys as his win against Mikey Garcia produced last month. A satisfied Spence smiled as he discussed that situation with BoxingScene.com on Friday following a weigh-in for the Robert Easter Jr.-Rances Barthelemy fight Saturday night at The Cosmopolitan.
“His promoter needs to do a better job promoting him, I guess,” Spence said, referring to Crawford. “I feel like he was a failure on the promotional side, so I think Bob needs to get back to the drawing board if he thinks me and Crawford’s gonna be a 50-50, down-the-middle deal. If I’m bringing in probably over 400,000 pay-per-view buys and he’s doing a hundred and something, why should we split it if we fight each other?”
Neither FOX, which distributed the Spence-Garcia fight March 16 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, nor ESPN, the distributor of Crawford-Khan a week ago from Madison Square Garden, have officially announced buy rates for those fights.
Spence (25-0, 21 KOs) and Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) reportedly drew between 350,000 and 400,000 buys. Multiple sources have indicated to BoxingScene.com that Crawford-Khan produced less than half the buys Spence-Garcia generated.
Crawford (36-0, 25 KOs) was a heavy favorite over Khan (33-5, 20 KOs), who declined to continue during the sixth round, once Crawford hit him with what was ruled an unintentional low blow. According to Spence, a diminished Khan wasn’t the only obstacle that made Crawford’s second pay-per-view fight a difficult sell.
“It’s not just the opponents he’s fighting, but the whole promotional thing behind him,” Spence said. “Like when Showtime promotes and FOX promotes, they really put everything into it. With the Crawford fight, you really didn’t hear nothing until the week of the fight. I kind of forgot about it. I didn’t hear nothing about it until the week of the fight. They started promoting it probably Thursday or Friday. That’s when it really got out there like that. So, I feel like they could’ve done a better job of promoting it.”
Crawford-Khan did receive a sustained promotional push on all of ESPN’s linear and digital platforms. Spence still feels Arum should spend more time promoting the three-division champion than Top Rank’s other elite-level star, Vasiliy Lomachenko.
The 31-year-old Crawford, of Omaha, Nebraska, and the 31-year-old Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KOs) are generally regarded as two of the top three boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport.
“With Crawford, it’s a lack of promotion,” Spence said. “I feel like Bob doesn’t promote Crawford like he should. I don’t know what that’s about, but I feel like he promotes Lomachenko way better than they promote Crawford. Even with the lead-up to the promotion of the Crawford fight, they were talking about Lomachenko in the same sentence with Crawford. Why are you talking about Lomachenko, when you’ve got your pay-per-view fighter fighting Saturday night? Every time they mentioned Crawford, they mentioned Lomachenko. What are you doing that for, when you’ve got Crawford fighting?
“When I fought on pay-per-view, they didn’t mention guys. They didn’t mention Keith Thurman, they didn’t mention Pacquiao. They mentioned me. They mentioned me versus Garcia, not, ‘Keith Thurman, Keith Thurman, Keith Thurman, Keith Thurman.’ Or, ‘Pacquiao, Pacquiao, Pacquiao, Pacquiao.’ If somebody mentioned Pacquiao and Keith Thurman, it was me who mentioned them, who I would like to fight next. I feel like the proof is in the pudding, how they handled the whole promotion. Me, I wasn’t even watching like that, and I noticed how they were handling the promotion, keep bringing up Lomachenko. Even after Crawford’s fight, they kept bringing up Lomachenko. Why? They’re not even in the same weight class. Why do you keep bringing this guy up? So, I feel like they’re over-promoting him, overkill, and Terence is not a guy who’s gonna speak up. He’s a guy who just wanna fight.”
Spence suggested Friday that he won’t fight Crawford, the WBO 147-pound champion, in a highly anticipated welterweight title unification fight until sometime late in 2020, at the earliest.
The 29-year-old Spence expects to battle WBC champion Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) in his next fight. If he tops Porter, Spence then would like to box the winner of a probable July 20 bout between Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) and Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC).
Arum said before Crawford defeated Khan that he would call Al Haymon this past Monday to initiate negotiations for Crawford to fight Spence next. The 87-year-old promoter proceeded to lambaste Haymon in the immediate aftermath of Crawford’s win over Khan (https://www.boxingscene.com/arum-haymon-tell-spence-listen-white-guys–138214).
“I like Terence,” Spence said. “I feel like Terence is a great fighter. I’ve nothing but respect for Terence. I’ve got Terence’s number in my phone right now. He wished me good luck in my last fight. I’ve got nothing but respect for him. I just feel like they’re doing him dirty. They gave Tyson Fury that big-ass deal, and then they give Terence Crawford a $3 million deal. Come on! That’s a slap in the face right there.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.