WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford looked All World last week in stopping former title holder Jeff Horn. This Saturday, it’s Errol Spence’s turn. The presumed Sonny Liston of the division, Spence 23-0 (20) will make the second defense of his IBF welterweight title. His opponent is third ranked IBF contender Carlos Ocampo 22-0 (13) who, in all honesty after watching video of his recent bouts, makes Jeff Horn look like a poor man’s welterweight version of Jack Dempsey.
Prior to Crawford beating Horn last week, the two most anticipated fights in boxing were IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight title holder Anthony Joshua meeting WBC champ Deontay Wilder followed by WBC lightweight champ Mikey Garcia clashing with WBO champ Vasyl Lomachenko. And after Spence looks like Superman dismantling Ocampo, you can add Crawford vs. Spence to that list.
Crawford is a stylistic chameleon and Spence is probably the biggest puncher and physically strongest 147-pound fighter in the world. If he and Crawford meet it will remind many of the first clash between the multi-dimensional Sugar Ray Leonard and the man who was then the biggest and hardest puncher in the division, Thomas Hearns. Both Crawford and Spence really look that good and a fight between them will be tough to handicap.
Spence in his next-to-last bout looked solid in polishing off Kell Brook to win the IBF title, and then earlier this year in his first defense dominated the tough and capable Lamont Peterson. Errol is a fundamentally sound boxer-puncher with power in both hands and applies tremendous mental and physical pressure. And perhaps the scariest thing about facing him is that he gets stronger as the fight progresses.
Ocampo is a boxer who uses the ring and pushes his jab and mostly everything else he throws. He’s neither fast nor fleet-footed and his record doesn’t have one recognizable name on it. On video he looks very average and it’s impossible to find one discernible weapon in his tool box that could trouble Spence for even a fleeting moment. If there was a fighter stylistically made to order to end up being a sitting duck for Spence’s power, it’s Carlos Ocampo. I think Spence will look like Superman. In fact, Ocampo may look like the one wearing a cape because he may fly out of the ring.
The welterweight division may be the most top-heavy class in boxing. At the top resides Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter along with Spence and Crawford. Aside from fighting each other, almost every match-up involving one of them versus a lower ranked contender would likely resemble Crawford-Horn and what I expect Spence-Ocampo will look like. And once Spence has dispatched Ocampo, the Crawford versus Spence anticipation will escalate. And with both Terence and Errol having said they want to become the undisputed champ and would be very willing to meet the other, only the sanctioning bodies and promoters can hold it up.
Some fans have scoffed at Crawford receiving high praise for beating Horn so lopsidedly with the focus being Horn wasn’t much of a threat, which is partly true, but on the other hand Crawford is a lethal package of a fighter. And I look for the same sentiment echoed after Spence beats Ocampo….and likely beats him even more convincingly than Crawford beat Horn. Ocampo cannot out-box or get away from Spence who should have no trouble delivering his Sunday best stuff. Moreover Errol is a terrific puncher and will no doubt land clean when he makes contact….resulting in what will be a definitive ending.
Crawford doesn’t need help to look sensational, and neither does Spence, but both drew opponents who allow them to show the very best of their skills, mostly for the purpose of building their eventual fight into something that could wind up on PPV or be a Showtime or network fight that will do huge numbers. And these guys, as terrific as they are, need their prowess as a fighter to do their selling because, as I’ve mentioned before, their personalities are on the reserved side and they do their talking in the ring. I’m not sure Crawford-Spence could ever be as big as Leonard-Hearns I, because Leonard was a huge draw by then and Hearns’ devastating power and massive reach was thought to be something that he might not be able to contend with. Their clash in 1981 was the most anticipated welterweight title bout ever and it lived up to all expectations.
Look for Spence to “do a Crawford” on Ocampo, but with a different narrative. After Terence dismantled Horn, the narrative was his skill set and killer instinct. The Spence narrative will mostly be centered on Errol’s methodical approach and punching power. And that’s in line with what much of the talk centered on before Leonard-Hearns I. The biggest difference is Crawford isn’t the world star Leonard was, so it’s a good thing that his skills as a fighter have been showcased on cable TV as Leonard’s were on network TV on his way to the title.
Most likely Crawford and Spence will fight once more before facing each other, and in a perfect world they’ll pick up one of the other titles in that bout so when they clash it will be for the undisputed title!
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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