Errol Spence vs. Keith Thurman: WBC Officially Orders a Title Fight
Errol Spence was never short of relevant substitutions even in the breakdown of his super target fight with Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford.
The hardest part will be choosing between what are now three mandatory title contenders.
The WBC has authorized Spence to take on Keith Thurman, the number one contender on the sanctioning body. The ruling was issued Wednesday afternoon during the commitments segment of the 60th Annual WBC Convention in Acapulco, Mexico.
The order was approved unanimously by the WBC Board of Governors, although the ruling itself can be a formality.
Thurman (30-1, 22KOs; 2nd) has emerged as a leading candidate to face Spence (28-0, 22KOs), who is looking to next defend the unified WBA/WBC/IBF welterweight crown. Both Thurman and Spence fight under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner.
The development came on the heels of Spence-Crawford talks which suddenly collapsed after it appeared that a deal was on the cusp of an undisputed showdown in the championship. It presents an interesting scenario for Spence, who has three suitable opponents to choose from.
The undefeated Southpaw of Desoto, Texas – who holds the WBC/WBA ‘Super’/IBF titles – remains on the hook to face the WBA secondary welterweight roster Eimantas Stagnionis in the title unification match. The pairing has been suspended since Spence-Crawford was in talks, with the WBA on board to allow the undisputed championship to take place next. Stanonis was likely to appear on Spence-Crawford’s bottom card in exchange for stepping aside, although the opponent’s name was never mentioned.
Stanionis fought on the PBC cards but was officially promoted by Richard Schaefer’s Probellum. Their side previously announced its intention to have the WBA impose its mandatory status. Spence could theoretically vacate the “super” title, which would leave the WBA with a single welterweight slate.
As BoxingScene.com previously reported, Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis (29-0, 27KOs) petitioned the IBF to enforce his mandatory contender status. Ennis is more likely to be able to land Spence-Thurman’s bottom card – if PBC actually ends that fight – with the promise of the next IBF title challenge, either against the winner or in a vacant title fight.
Spence has held at least one welterweight belt since England’s Kell Brook exit in the 11th round of the FA title match in May 2017. Six royal defenses followed, two of which came in consolidation bouts. Spence took the WBC title in a split decision by defeating then-wonder Shawn Porter at their stellar September 2019 meeting, and halted Yordenis Ugas in the 10th round to win the WBA title on April 16 in Arlington, Texas.
Thurman previously held WBA/WBC titles before injuries slowed his career to a crawl. The former champion from Clearwater, Florida, brought his WBA belt in the March 2017 unification bout with former WBC plaintiff Danny Garcia, in what was a bout between the undefeated welterweight titles lists. Thurman won by split decision but had to give up the WBC belt as injuries kept him on the shelf for nearly two years.
Returning to the ring in January 2019 saw Thurman defend his WBA title in a majority win over Josesito Lopez, before losing the title to Manny Pacquiao in a title unification match in July 2019 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The combination of the pandemic and additional injuries kept Thurman out of the ring until his comeback earlier this year, where he beat Mario Barrios in a WBC semi-final elimination on February 5 at the Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
Should the Spence-Thurman fight go ahead, TGB Promotions – the lead promoter of nearly all PBC-branded events – has held the MGM Grand for six dates in 2023 including January 7 and February 4.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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