WBC orders Spence to defend title vs. Thurman

Errol Spence Jr. could defend his unified welterweight championship against Keith Thurman next after the WBC ordered the mandatory title fight on Wednesday at its convention in Mexico.

Spence, who holds the WBC, WBA and IBF belts at 147 pounds, was in advanced talks to fight Terence Crawford, but after negotiations collapsed, he still needs a challenger for his next defense.

Crawford, who will defend his WBO title against David Avanesyan on Dec. 10, said last week that he expected Spence to fight Thurman.

Both Spence and Thurman fight for Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, and organizations often only order bouts when a promoter has a deal in place. However, Spence has been steadfast that he would never give Thurman a shot at his three titles because Thurman showed no interest in fighting him years ago.

Organizations often order title fights between champions and contenders, but Spence could always elect to relinquish the belt, while Thurman could choose to pursue a different fight. The mandates aren’t binding, and the sides still have to come to a deal in these instances.

Eimantas Stanionis is also waiting for his WBA title shot, while Jaron “Boots” Ennis pushes for his IBF title opportunity. But Thurman, a former unified welterweight champion, appears to be next.

Thurman, 33, has been inactive in recent years, but ended a 31-month layoff in February with a unanimous-decision victory over Mario Barrios. Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) is ESPN’s No. 7 welterweight. His lone defeat came in 2019, a split-decision loss to Manny Pacquiao.

Spence (28-0, 22 KOs), 32, picked up a third title with a 10th-round TKO win over Yordenis Ugas in April. He also owns title victories over Danny Garcia, Mikey Garcia and Shawn Porter (Thurman also defeated Danny Garcia and Porter.)

The WBC ordered a handful of other title fights — and title eliminators — at its annual convention.

The organization previously said Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr. would meet in an eliminator to determine a mandatory challenger for the heavyweight title held by Tyson Fury.

Devin Haney, the undisputed lightweight champion, is in talks to face Vasiliy Lomachenko next year, and in the meantime, the WBC ordered an eliminator between Shakur Stevenson and Isaac Cruz.

The WBC’s mandates appeared to indicate several other fighters moving up in weight besides Stevenson.

At 126 pounds, a rematch between Stephen Fulton and Brandon Figueroa was ordered for the interim featherweight title. Fulton outpointed Figueroa in a 122-pound title unification in one of 2021’s best action fights.

At 118 pounds, Nonito Donaire and Jason Moloney were matched up for the bantamweight title held by Naoya Inoue. Inoue plans to jump to 122 pounds after he fights Paul Butler on Dec. 13 in an undisputed bantamweight championship bout.

Rey Vargas, who is moving up to 130 pounds, is lined up to meet O’Shaquie Foster for the title vacated by Stevenson in January.

At middleweight, Jermall Charlo, who hasn’t competed since June 2021, was ordered to fight Carlos Adames.

And at super middleweight, the WBC announced that the highly anticipated David Benavidez-Caleb Plant fight will decide a mandatory challenger for boxing’s top star, Canelo Alvarez.

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