WBO Orders newly-Minted 154-lb Champ Fundora to Face Crawford

By Tim Compton - 04/01/2024 - Comments

The World Boxing Organization has ordered Sebastian ‘The Towering Inferno’ Fundora to defend his WBC/WBO junior middleweight titles next against mandatory Terence Crawford. The two have until April 25th to negotiate a deal before they order a purse bid.

The Money or The Belt?

The WBO’s order means that Fundora (21-1-1, 13 KOs) will need to decide whether to ditch the belt in favor of a bigger payday against Errol Spence Jr. or stick it out and defend the strap against the 36-year-old Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs), who has never fought at 154.

Fundora’s promoter Sampson Lewkowcicz says he wants Spence as his next opponent to “maximize” the money he can make. That’s not a knock on Crawford, but he’d never done well on PPV before his fight against Spence last year in July, and many people attribute those excellent numbers to Errol’s popularity.

Will Crawford Fight Josh Kelly?

If Fundora vacates the WBO, Crawford will have the unappealing option of battling for the vacant title against #1 Josh Kelly, a fighter who was knocked out in six rounds by one of his former opponents, David Avanesyan, in 2021.

Would the money-hungry Crawford be interested in taking a smaller payday against Josh Kelly, or would he give up on fighting for the WBO 154-lb title?

When you look at the better money Crawford can make fighting the likes of Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis and David Benavidez, he would look weak and risk-averse if he chose to face Kelly for a smaller payday.

Given that Crawford’s focus is on getting the biggest money fights possible before he retires soon, the chances are that he’ll turn up his nose at the idea of fighting Josh Kelly (15-1-1, 8 KOs) for the vacant WBO 154-lb division if Fundora chooses not to defend against him.

The WBO’s Potential Blunder

If Crawford refuses to fight Kelly for the vacant WBO title, the next highest-ranked contender in the WBO’s top 154 will fight the British fighter for the vacant belt. That would fall on #2 Erickson Lubin, which could be a total mismatch. Lubin is on another level than Kelly, and it would be an easy victory for him.

The WBO would wind up with a less popular champion after the smoke clears, and they regret ordering the Fundora-Crawford fight when they’re stuck with Lubin or Kelly as their champion.