Does Tszyu-Spence, Canelo-Crawford Make The Most Sense?

Boxing Scene

LAS VEGAS – Errol Spence Jr.’s interest in fighting the winner of Saturday night’s Tim Tszyu-Sebastian Fundora WBO-WBC junior-middleweight title bout adds a curious wrinkle to where this was supposed to be headed.

Recently undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford, who vanquished then-three-belt-champion Spence by a cold-blooded knockout in July, previously petitioned the WBO to fight for the organization’s 154-pound belt within 180 days of Saturday.

Given his position as a WBO “super” champion, Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) was given power by the organization to invoke such a request – one that Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs) has seemed happy to embrace as he seeks to continue the momentum from what he hopes will be a convincing triumph over replacement-foe Fundora Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

On Friday’s episode of ProBox TV’s “Deep Waters,” Chris Algieri and Paulie Malignaggi dissected the issue. 

“I’ve got two fresh belts hanging on both sides of my shoulders and I’ve got some of the biggest names in the sport wanting to fight me … ,” Algieri said. “I’m sitting back and I’m waiting for these guys to take out their checkbooks. Who’s next?”

Algieri said it seems to him that Tszyu’s competitive vigor would lead him to accept the Crawford bout with delight.

But, Algieri added, “he should build up his star power more.”

And who gives him the better chance to do so?

Crawford, the sport’s pound-for-pound king and a two-handed power-punching machine who’s won belts in three weight classes?

Or Spence (28-1, 22 KOs), who while still a well-known name, is 34 and coming off the Crawford beating, cataract surgery and is apparently going to switch trainers?

Perhaps the most significant factor is that while Crawford is now a promotional free agent after an attempted effort to make a Spence rematch crumbled, Spence is a Premier Boxing Champions loyalist who has been with powerful manager Al Haymon’s company since day one.

And PBC, of course, is handling Tszyu in America.

“I don’t know if [Crawford] is the best plan right away,” Algieri said for Tszyu. “The Spence fight makes a lot of sense for him, honestly. It’s an easier fight than Crawford. It’s one [more additional] step to introducing him to the global elite and the American eyes.”

Some industry insiders told BoxingScene Friday to expect Spence to emerge as Tszyu’s next foe should he win.

That wouldn’t, necessarily, crush Crawford’s quest.

Although there’s a three-division gap between Crawford and undisputed super-middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, Crawford wants that fight fiercely and should favored Alvarez defeat Jaime Munguia on May 4, he may reconsider his options for a planned September bout and select Crawford.

Who’s more appetizing, pound-for-pound king Crawford or Edgar Berlanga?

As for Spence, Malignaggi questioned whether being dropped three times by Crawford before succumbing to a TKO in the ninth round, should lead Spence to go from that fire to a date with Tszyu, who’s nicknamed “The Soul Taker.”

“Tszyu’s going to take you through that door again. Do you have the fire within you to respond?” asked Malignaggi, who admitted his question is based on his own career, when he suffered a fourth-round TKO loss fighting Shawn Porter for a world title in 2014, then returned against Danny Garcia and was stopped in the ninth round.

“Now, [Spence has had] that break, it settles in and all of a sudden, that door to hell opens again. You’re comfortable financially. You have a lot of mileage on you. Do you have what it takes to get into that room again? I don’t know. That’s the question if they make that fight.”

Spence previously confronted questions about his welfare when he returned from flipping his Porsche in a harrowing 2019 car crash and defeated Garcia, then Yordenis Ugas.

“There’s too many question marks for Spence,” Malignaggi said. “He just got destroyed [by Crawford]. Is he the same after the car accident? Is he the same after the eye surgery?

“Are you going to bring him into a double world-title fight? Not to mention, you’re not [supposed] to be allowed to fight for a championship coming off a loss, let alone a one-sided knockout loss.”

To that, Algieri pointed to Fundora’s appearance in Saturday’s bout knowing his most recent fight was an April knockout loss to Brian Mendoza.

“You’re acting like rules get upheld,” Algieri cracked. “This is boxing.” 

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