WBA Approves Errol Spence-Keith Thurman Bout
With Terence Crawford unwilling to fight him early next year, unified welterweight champ Errol Spence has apparently settled on his next opponent. And, it looks as though it’s a prominent former champ in Keith Thurman.
That’s at least what the indications are from Spence’s team, Premier Boxing Champions and TGB promotions who asked the WBA last week to sanction Spence fighting Thurman next.
The WBA responded publicly Monday that they have approved the Spence-Thurman matchup:
“The World Boxing Association (WBA) as it continues to develop its world title reduction plan, took the next steps in the welterweight division. After a thorough review of the situation, it was determined that Errol Spence Jr., WBA Super Champion, will be granted special permission to fight Keith Thurman, while the champion of the category, Eimantas Stanionis, will face Vergil Ortiz.
The winners of these bouts will square off in the near future to determine the pioneer body’s sole 147-pound champion.
Initially, former Super Champion Yordenis Ugas was allowed to face Spence in a unification bout, while Butaev and Stanionis fought for the championship title. In these cases, the winners were Spence and Stanionis, respectively.
On November 14, 2022, TGB Promotions applied for special permission on behalf of Spence to fight Thurman in February 2023, but with specific mandatory conditions. Pursuant to WBA rule C.16, which states that mandatory defense periods can be modified for cause, either by special permission request or on its own initiative, the WBA decided that Spence can face Thurman.
Stanionis will remain the mandatory challenger to the welterweight super championship. He will now face Vergil Ortiz, who defeated Michael McKinson in a WBA eliminator on August 8. The winner of the bout, or Stanionis if it ends in a draw, will face the winner of Spence-Thurman within 180 days of their bouts.
The winner of the Spence-Thurman bout is obligated to meet the winner of Stanionis-Ortiz. This ruling supersedes all previous rulings and any issues that arise along the way will be resolved under WBA rules.”
Asking for approval indicates Spence wants Thurman next
It’s both interesting and obvious that Spence and PBC want the the Thurman fight or why else would they petition the WBA to let them do it?
The organization had previously allowed Spence to fight and eventually, KO their champ Yordenis Ugas in April with Stanionis being in line for the next bout. As the above make’s reference they now want Stanionis to fight fellow unbeaten Vergil Ortiz to solidify as their top challenger for the winner of the potential Spence-Thurman showdown.
Of course, that proposed matchup is easier said than done, as Ortiz is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, who has their broadcast/streaming deal with DAZN. Meanwhile, Stanionis is aligned with PBC, which has television deals with Fox Sports and Showtime.
That’s not to say Stanionis-Ortiz won’t happen, it will just be a challenge. And obviously, if they can’t agree, then there could be purse bid or Stanionis could end of fighting someone else altogether before the potential Spence-Thurman winner.
As for the unbeaten Spence meeting the man who held the WBA “Super” version of it’s championship for 4 years before Manny Pacquiao defeated him for his only pro loss in July 2019, the bout will likely have lukewarm reception. This, as the 33 year old Thurman has been largely inactive due to injury, the Covid 19 pandemic and his decision to simply wait out a bigger fight over the past couple of years.
And now, he’ll likely get it.
Why isn’t Spence-Crawford next?
Our Dan Rafael has previously reported that the target date that Spence and Crawford were talking about was for Saturday February 4th and likely in Las Vegas. That date is the weekend prior to Super Bowl LVII to be played the following Sunday.
Still, there’s disappointment that Spence, who now has the WBA belt added to his IBF/WBC world championships, couldn’t get an agreement to fight the unbeaten WBO world champ, Crawford.
He elected to pass on the offer of Spence/PBC and fight less heralded David Avanesysan coming December in his home of Omaha, NE.
There’s still a chance that Spence and Crawford can get together for a bout in 2023. But, with the WBA wanting a fight with Stanionis, that could be a problem.