Boxing takeaways: The dance resumes for Crawford and Spence while Teofimo Lopez loses his magic

2:31 AM ET

Several major cards took place on Saturday, including a welterweight title defense for Terence Crawford, a homecoming for Teofimo Lopez and an upset loss for Josh Warrington. Mike Coppinger, Ben Baby and Nick Parkinson react to the action and try to make sense of three unique cards around the world.

Well, here we go again with Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.

Baby: By now, it might as well be a script for Terence “Bud” Crawford.

First, there will be a lot of chatter about a potential showdown with fellow welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., Crawford’s top rival. Then the fight will not get made, with both sides maintaining they’re over each other while simultaneously keeping the door open for it to happen. While everyone waits, Crawford fights someone else and looks really good as fans start to daydream about that Crawford-Spence showdown.

But what Crawford didn’t say after Saturday’s knockout win over David Avanesyan at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, shows why the idea of an undisputed championship seems like wishful thinking.

When given a chance, Crawford never even called Spence by his name when asked directly about the situation.

“Hopefully, we can go to the drawing board and these big fights come about in the near future,” Crawford said in his postfight interview.

Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs) provided one of the most dramatic wins of his run as welterweight champion, which began in 2018 when he beat Jeff Horn. After a tricky opening phase on Saturday, Crawford floored Avanesyan with a left uppercut, followed by a right hook that quickly brought the fight to a close.

And as soon as the bout ended, the big question about a possible showdown with Spence continued. Any time Crawford and Spence fight other opponents, it feels like the proverbial swing bouts while the sport awaits the main event that has yet to arrive.

Spence is promoting a bout on Dec. 17 on Showtime featuring lightweight Frank Martin, the first fighter signed to Spence’s Man Down Promotions. Speaking to ESPN earlier this week to promote Martin’s bout against Michel Rivera, Spence said he believes a matchup with Crawford isn’t past its expiration date, given that both men continue to have great performances.

“It still interests me, and I still want to fight him,” Spence told ESPN. “Who else would you rather see me fight than fighting one of the best fighters in the world and him fighting one of the best fighters in the world in myself?”

Spence continued the shadow promotion of a potential Crawford fight on Saturday, when he released a shirt for sale that featured a shark, which represents Spence’s moniker, knocking on doors as if it was the Grim Reaper, looking for Crawford next.

But if anything, it just continued boxing’s biggest cold war.

For years, fans have clamored for Spence and Crawford to face each other. With each passing year, however, other compelling bouts have chipped away at that buzz. One of those is a fight between junior welterweights Ryan Garcia and Gervonta “Tank” Davis that is tentatively slated for next April should each get through their respective tuneup bouts.

Spence and Crawford squabbled on Twitter in November as fans tried to parse out blame for the latest failed negotiations. When given a chance following his big win over Avanesyan, Crawford could have applied more public pressure on Spence to make the fight happen.

Instead, Crawford remained vague about his plans, which are not tied to any promoter since he cut ties with Top Rank last year and signed a one-fight deal with BLK Prime for Saturday’s bout. That might be for the best, given everything that has happened this year.

With Crawford, 35, getting older and Spence, 32, constantly eyeing a potential move up to junior middleweight, both men could be better served by focusing on new opponents who are more realistic options. There are several young, exciting welterweights Crawford could face, while Spence will have no shortage of options.

Crawford demonstrated that he still packs a nasty punch and is capable of a sublime performance. A bout against Spence could still be as big as boxing fans have envisioned, but Saturday’s actions showed merely talking about that megafight is difficult. Making it happen is even tougher.

Teofimo Lopez needs to rebuild, not call out 140-pound champions

Coppinger: Teofimo Lopez was on the fast track to superstardom. After his victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko that crowned Lopez undisputed lightweight champion and landed him on the pound-for-pound list, the possibilities appeared endless for the gifted power puncher.

An upset loss to George Kambosos Jr. in his follow-up fight left Lopez searching for answers. And after a controversial split decision win over Sandor Martin on Saturday in New York, Lopez’s place among the sport’s elite fighters is in peril, if not already gone.

Against Martin, Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) didn’t look anything like the power-punching dynamo who blasted his way to the top. He often threw only one punch at a time, and he didn’t use his jab with any consistency. And while after the fight he called out the best at 140 pounds — champions Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis — it’s hard to see Lopez competing with them, much less defeating them.

There’s no doubt Lopez remains ultra-talented, and he is young enough to get back on track at age 25. It also would be unfair to pin Saturday’s lackluster performance on Lopez alone. Martin had much to do with the way Lopez looked. The Spanish fighter is a crafty southpaw with an excellent jab and a bundle of confidence following his upset win over Mikey Garcia last year. Martin also is a strong, full-size 140-pounder who was clearly the bigger man against Lopez, a longtime 135-pounder campaigning at junior welterweight for the second time.

“I don’t know if I still have it,” Lopez told his father and trainer, Teofimo Lopez Sr., afterward. “Do I still have it?”

At the moment, Lopez doesn’t appear to have it. How he rediscovers the magic that made him a star could be a long process. A fight against a lesser opponent — or two — could be in order to restore some much-needed confidence. Perhaps Lopez even needs a break from the mental toll this incredibly demanding sport takes on its fighters. He achieved a lot quickly in boxing and dealt with a well-documented litany of issues outside the ring.

For now, Lopez should forget about chasing the champions he called out afterward and focus on rebuilding himself. With his blend of speed and power, there’s no reason he can’t recapture his form.

Martin, on the other hand, has a right to feel cheated. He accepted the assignment on three weeks’ notice and delivered another impressive performance on the road. While Martin (40-3, 13 KOs) appeared to win, it was still a close fight. ESPN scored it 95-94 for Martin from ringside, but there’s no excuse for the 97-92 tally from one judge.

“For one judge, I only won two rounds,” Martin, 29, said. “Really? There were two knockdowns. The referee didn’t count one of the knockdowns.

“He missed all of his punches. That’s a masterclass of boxing. That’s a robbery. But that’s the sport of boxing.”

The sport of boxing is all about comebacks too, and Lopez will seek to stage his own yet again.

Josh Warrington running out of options at the championship level

Parkinson: Josh Warrington’s majority points loss to Luis Alberto Lopez, which cost Warrington his IBF world featherweight title, leaves him with Leigh Wood as his best option to become a featherweight champion once again.

Before facing Lopez, Warrington, 32, had talked about his burning desire to travel to the United States and face one of the division’s big names, but this defeat left him with a poor hand at the negotiating table. WBC champion Rey Vargas, WBO titleholder Emanuel Navarrete or even Mauricio Lara, who stopped Warrington (31-2-1, 8 KOs) in February 2021, are likely to overlook Warrington now.

If a title shot is in his future at all, Warrington’s best option is likely to now stay closer to home with Wood, who said the former champion’s big following from Leeds, England, makes him an attractive opponent.

“I would be up for giving him a shot,” said Wood, from Nottingham in England. “As long as he is filling stadiums, he won’t end on that. From a personal point of view, Josh is probably one of the only fighters that you could fill a stadium with. He needs to get back to winning ways now.”

Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) stopped Michael Conlan in the last round of one of the best fights of 2022 and has not fought since March.

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