Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford debate: The biggest questions about the biggest fight of the year

It's actually going to happen. Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford will fight Saturday for the undisputed welterweight title -- and potentially be named best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

There's so much surrounding the fight and the implications of what could -- or could not -- happen in the ring. There are questions about Hall of Fame legacies, Spence's size compared to Crawford's and the age-old question of why this fight took so long to make.

Mike Coppinger and Ben Baby debate those topics and more.

Did the fight wait too long to happen?

Baby: As much as the promotion for the fight indicates that both men are in their prime, that might be stretching it a little bit. Crawford turns 36 this year, has been a professional since 2008 and won his first legitimate belt in 2014 when he beat Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight title. Spence is 33 and has been a welterweight champion since 2017.

Not only that, but the fight has been discussed at length for the past five years. That has led to the consternation among boxing fans that it's taken so long for this fight to occur. In a conference call on July 12, Spence noted that it essentially would have been a black mark on each of their careers had they never faced each other.

It's good it's finally happening. But one could make the argument this should have happened a couple of years earlier.

Coppinger: This fight -- to borrow a phrase from Bob Arum -- was "marinated" to perfection. Both Spence and Crawford have never been more popular; will enter the ring with their undefeated records intact and reside inside ESPN's top-5 pound-for-pound rankings.

And as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao proved in 2015, making the fans wait ... and wait ... and wait some more, only serves to build interest. There's no doubt if this matchup materialized a few years ago, it wouldn't be the megafight it is today.

While there's value in dragging out the prospect of a key matchup, there's also plenty of risk. Fortunately for the sport, Spence and Crawford continued to impress and add belts and now this is a welterweight summit meeting for the undisputed championship.

Baby: OK, you have a point there. Talking to a source back in 2020, there was definitely a sense that any potential revenue generated from a Spence-Crawford showdown didn't match the fervor boxing fans had for this fight, even had business not been impacted by COVID-19. With both guys now bigger stars, that might change.

But let's bring this back to being in the ring. And if we're being honest, isn't Spence maybe a bit too big for Crawford? Spence has always been considered the biggest welterweight in the division by a mile, while Crawford won his first belt in the 135-pound weight class.

Coppinger: Spence is undoubtedly the bigger, stronger fighter. After all, he competed at 152 in the Olympics and has campaigned at 147 pounds his entire pro career. Crawford, as you pointed out, won his first title at lightweight.

But here's another reason the fight is taking place at the optimal time: Crawford has more than settled into the weight class with seven fights at 147 pounds. Bud stopped Jeff Horn in his welterweight debut in 2018 and has finished all seven of his welterweight opponents inside the distance. How many fighters can boast that?

Spence floored Porter late but couldn't stop him; Crawford did in a Round 10 TKO win. You could argue that Porter was closer to his prime against Spence, but it doesn't change the fact that Crawford is a dangerous puncher at welterweight. Some fighters actually discover increased power as they move up in weight, mainly because they don't drain from the weight cut.

And another thing: Crawford possesses great strength for his size. He's a former amateur wrestler who still jumps on the mat at his son's meets. He trained twice a day at the UFC Performance Institute before training camp officially started for Spence. Bud's ready.

So while you still have to give the size and strength advantage to Spence, it would be unfair to discredit him if he wins by saying Crawford was too small.

Now, Crawford turns 36 in September while Spence just turned 33 in March. Are both guys in their prime? Is one of them closer to their best?

Baby: I would argue Spence is closer to his peak than Crawford. Spence has overcome some serious injuries with impressive wins over the past couple of years.

Spence managed to look good against Porter, which is not easy. But perhaps most impressively, he bullied Yordenis Ugas, who has fought as high as junior middleweight, in a stoppage win in 2022. Keep in mind that Spence had to recover from a detached retina that was a career-threatening injury that scrapped a showdown against Manny Pacquaio.

Before his one-car accident and the eye injury, Spence outboxed Mikey Garcia, considered at the time one of the better technical fighters in the sport.

That brings me to the next point. Is the winner an automatic lock to be the undisputed No. 1 men's pound-for-pound fighter? That's a slam dunk, right?

Coppinger: No way. Did Naoya Inoue suddenly retire? "The Monster," currently my No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, meets his greatest challenge yet in Stephen Fulton just four days before Spence-Crawford. Fulton is a pound-for-pound talent himself, a fighter who can box on the inside and outside.

Inoue vacated his undisputed bantamweight championship to take on the best fighter at 122 pounds in his first fight at the weight class. If Inoue defeats Fulton in impressive fashion -- and especially if he scores another spectacular knockout -- it would be tough to say Spence or Crawford is definitively above Inoue on the mythical list. Of course, a lot depends on how Spence and Crawford perform, too.

But we can never sleep on the generational talent Inoue has proven to be, and now he has an opportunity to cement himself as a special fighter.

Baby: You're out of your mind. I 100% disagree.

If Crawford wins, he becomes the undisputed champion in a second weight class, which is an incredible feat. If Spence gets the nod, he takes down someone who has been atop ESPN's pound-for-pound rankings for what feels like an eternity and cements his status as the best welterweight of his era. And for a long time, the 147-pound division was considered the deepest and the strongest in boxing.

Since we're talking about the future, what's next for both guys? Copp, what are you hearing about the prospects for Spence and Crawford after this?

Coppinger: Well, there's a bidirectional rematch clause that whoever loses the fight can trigger within 30 days, so I fully expect Spence and Crawford to fight at least one more time after this. But all indications point to that encore encounter taking place at 154 pounds rather than 147. That's not set in stone, of course.

Each fighter will need to see how they feel afterward and then agree to a weight for the rematch, but both Spence and Crawford have publicly expressed interest in a move to junior middleweight.

Spence was prepared to fight Keith Thurman at 154 pounds this summer before he closed the deal to fight Crawford. Crawford, meanwhile, has repeatedly called out undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo.

There's a great chance that we see Spence-Crawford 2 next but at 154 pounds with the four welterweight titles left behind. But where would that leave Jaron "Boots" Ennis, who's been patiently waiting for his crack at the winner?

Baby: I was part of the news conference earlier this month when Spence and Crawford were asked about potentially facing Ennis. The undefeated 26-year-old from Philadelphia is currently the IBF interim welterweight champion. Both had high praise for Ennis, who could be the next face of the welterweight division.

But here's the thing. If there is going to be a rematch and it's going to be at junior middleweight, then both guys will be out of the division and Ennis can finally get a crack at being a legit champ in the 147-pound weight class.

Boxing purists have waited for this Spence-Crawford showdown for years. If it's as good as everyone thinks it can be, it'll be a fight talked about for decades and one we could potentially see again soon.