ARE there any takers out there who will back Errol Spence in his rematch against Terence Crawford? It seems that all who did the first time have fallen off of the wagon. It is easy to understand why because of the lasting image of the drubbing that Spence took in their last match. But there is hope for Spence, a lot more than people realize. Beating Crawford will be a monumental task, but Spence can conceivably do so. Here are 11 reasons why:
SPENCE NEEDS HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Spence is an icon in Texas. He is not only revered by the public, but by the Dallas Cowboy football team as well. The Cowboys even broke training camp to fly to Las Vegas to root for Spence in his match with Crawford. They and the fans, have gotten solidly behind Spence the times he has boxed at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. In three of his last four fights before boxing Crawford, Spence performed brilliantly at that locale in defeating Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, and Yordenis Ugas. If Spence can get the rematch to be fought in AT&T Stadium instead of in Las Vegas or elsewhere, the substantial boost in crowd support would lift him considerably.
SPENCE NEEDS THE REMATCH TO BE FOUGHT AT JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT: Spence vowed not to make excuses for his defeat to Crawford and hasn’t, but admitted he had trouble making the 147lb welterweight limit. Crawford seems willing to do the encore at 154lbs, which could result in Spence entering the ring stronger than he was before.
CRAWFORD MIGHT BE OVERCONFIDENT: Crawford will put in the necessary training time and say all the right things in the lead up to the rematch, but is not likely to be as motivated the next time around. For the first fight Crawford had a healthy respect for the threat Spence posed that he probably no longer has.
A FRESH START FOR SPENCE: Spence has enjoyed great career success with James, but it all unraveled in his match with Crawford. As a result, Spence has moved on from James and is in search of a new coach, reportedly narrowing his search to Calvin Ford (Tank Davis’ trainer) and Roy Jones. That Spence would even consider Jones shows an about face in his attitude. Spence had previously refused to shake Jones’ hand when he heard Roy predicted that Crawford would defeat him.
SPENCE MUST STICK TO HIS FIGHT PLAN: That great line attributed to Mike Tyson, that everyone has a plan until they get hit, rang true in Spence’s loss to Crawford. What is largely forgotten is that Spence was actually winning the match until he was dropped late in round two. Crawford himself described it as no more than a flash knockdown. Yet when the fighting resumed Spence was a changed man. He stopped working behind his jab and controlling the pace. Instead, Spence tried to exchange punches the rest of the way, resulting in Crawford picking him apart. If Spence can keep his composure next time around he could create some unanticipated problems for Crawford.
SPENCE HAD AN OFF NIGHT: The greatest athletes in sports history have a dreadful night on occasion. There were times in Michael Jordan’s career where he could not make a basket, Lionel Messi a goal. Yet they came back with a vengeance the next time they faced the same opponent. So why not Spence against Crawford? Considering that the first match was a virtual pick ‘em affair beforehand, Spence’s performance might have been an aberration more than anything else.
SPENCE WENT INTO THE FIRST FIGHT INJURED: Spence did not look right against Crawford. There was speculation that he might have gone into the fight injured. If so, that at least partly explains why he underperformed.
CRAWFORD MIGHT NOT AGE WELL: Certain boxers age well, while others don’t. If Crawford, at 36, is in the latter category, his inevitable decline might come much sooner than anyone imagines. A case in point would be Roy Jones, who was considered the pound-for-pound king, but suddenly became no more than a mediocre fighter. Combine Crawford’s age with his relative inactivity and a red flag could easily emerge.
SPENCE FINISHED THE CRAWFORD MATCH ON HIS FEET: Spence was knocked down three times in the Crawford fight, the last two knockdowns occurring in the seventh round. The match was ultimately stopped late in round nine with Spence on his feet indicating to the referee his willingness to continue. Someone should have intervened and stopped the match earlier, but the bottom line is that during the last two rounds Spence was able to take everything that Crawford dished out while remaining on his feet. This small moral victory is something that Spence can build on for the next time.
EVERYONE LOVES THE UNDERDOG: Unlike the first match, Spence will be a massive underdog for the return. Which leads one to believe that public sentiment will be with him. If Spence can last the full 12 rounds, perhaps the judges will give him more credit than they should. Bad decisions are a part of boxing. Spence has the talent to put himself in position to win one.
IT’S THE LAST FIGHT THAT COUNTS THE MOST: Spence-Crawford was a two-fight deal. Both were contractually guaranteed a rematch. Which makes you wonder how much urgency Spence felt for the first fight. Spence’s mindset going in might have been that he could afford to lose because of the guaranteed rematch where he could gain redemption if necessary. For the rematch Spence will have no choice but to be in a now-or-never mode. This will make him a hungrier fighter than he was before.