No offense to Mexico’s unbeaten Carlos Ocampo, who has the fight of his life against Errol Spence Jr. on Saturday at the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility, the Star, in Frisco, Texas.
The name more routinely attached this week to Spence, who makes the second defense of his International Boxing Federation welterweight title against Ocampo on Showtime, is unbeaten, newly belted 147-pound champion Terence Crawford.
“I’m ready to line up those other champions,” Spence told reporters at his news conference. “I want to fight every opponent and take them out, no matter who it is. I’m here to prove I’m the best in the division.”
That’s exactly what fight fans want to hear from a champion in a loaded division that includes recovering World Boxing Assn. champion Keith Thurman and World Boxing Council title fighters Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, who are expected to meet in the late summer.
The looming matchup that thrills, however, is Spence-Crawford.
The 30-year-old Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) added momentum to the rivalry with his ninth-round technical knockout Saturday of Australia’s Jeff Horn in Las Vegas.
Both he and Spence are represented on top-10 pound-for-pound lists, each is performing at his peak and both showcase special boxing skill and knockout power.
Texas’ 28-year-old Spence (23-0, 20 knockouts) addressed the elephant in the room this week, which is that he’s a Showtime fighter handled by powerful manager Al Haymon and that Crawford fights for Haymon’s rival, veteran promoter Bob Arum, on ESPN.
“Terence Crawford being across the street — I can’t promise it’s going to happen this year, but it’s going to happen … ,” Spence said.
Spence also said in the interview that he believes he should be considered the world’s No. 1 welterweight after venturing to England last year to stop then-champion Kell Brook in the 11th round.
“Any fighter who’s willing to step up, I’m willing to fight them,” Spence said. “I’m ready to rule with an iron fist.”
First comes the matter of the IBF’s No. 3-rated contender Ocampo (22-0, 13 KOs), a resident of Ensenada making his U.S. debut.
“Ocampo is very dangerous because he has nothing to lose,” Spence said. “I want a guy who’s going to test me so the crowd gets its money’s worth.”
Ocampo answered, “He can try to come and knock me out, but this is my dream. I’m not going to let my chance pass me by.”
After making some head-scratching site choices, Haymon has nailed this opportunity by bringing Spence home for a bout that quickly sold 14,000 tickets to the Ford Center at the Star, according to two PBC officials.
Another fighter of great importance, Southland four-division champion Mikey Garcia, said this week that, should he successfully defend his World Boxing Council lightweight belt against unbeaten IBF champion Robert Easter Jr. on July 28 at Staples Center, he would like to challenge Spence at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas in December.
“Every fight is a statement fight,” Spence said. “It doesn’t matter who I’m fighting. All eyes are on me.”