What was supposed to be the modern day version of Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns, was instead turned into Floyd Mayweather-Arturo Gatti. All due to the sublime skills of Terrence Crawford who thrashed Errol Spence in nine one-sided rounds to capture the undisputed welterweight championship of the world.
But he did more than that on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas -- he took his place as the pound-for-pound king in boxing.
Coming into this weekend, many believed it was going to be impossible for anyone to surpass the magnificent effort of Naoya Inoue, who on Tuesday took the WBC and WBO junior featherweight titles in immaculate fashion in Tokyo, Japan. The consensus was that this effort had cemented his status as the best prizefighter in the world.
Well, 'Bud' said to 'the Monster', ''hold my beer."
Esther Lin/Showtime Sports
It's hard to deny after the way he decimated a previously undefeated Spence, (who came into this bout with the WBC, WBA and IBF titles), that it's not the native of Omaha that should sit atop this mythical list.
Crawford out-punched, out-fought and out-thought Spence throughout this highly anticipated contest that quickly became an exhibition of his superior all-around skills. Crawford scored a sudden knockdown in round two. Then boxing almost exclusively from the southpaw stance, proceeded to pick apart the naturally bigger Spence, boxing him at times and running into sharp counter-punches, or backing him up at other.
In the seventh, as Spence's face was swollen and bloodied, he was sent down two more times. At this point the fight should've been waved off by Derrick James, but it wasn't till the ninth frame that the fight was mercifully halted by Harvey Dock as Spence was getting shellacked.
Esther Lin, Showtime Sports
It was vicious, violent...and beautiful.
This wasn't just a win, but a definitive statement from the often disrespected, and overlooked Crawford, who throughout fight week had an icy-yet-intense demeanor, in contrast to the listless Spence. Crawford crossed the street and speared the big fish.
It means everything because of who I took the belts from,” said Crawford. “They talked bad about me. They said I wasn’t good enough and I couldn’t beat these welterweights. I just kept my head to the sky and kept praying to God that I would get the opportunity to show the world how great Terence Crawford is. Tonight, I believe I showed how great I am.”
Esther Line/Showtime Sports
Again, it wasn't just that he won, but how he did so. This performance was reminiscent of Bernard Hopkins-Felix Trinidad in a sense that you had a respected fighter who had his back against the wall versus a more commercially popular fighter. And in what was a big pressure moment, delivered the performance of his life. Crawford is that guy. He's not just good by today's standards, but has shown over time that he's a generational talent.
You don't have to take my word for it, but it was during one of our boxing dinners at the world famous Doug Krikorian (who covered fights for years during his days at the beloved Herald-Examiner) told our group that, "Crawford is the best boxer I've seen since Ray Leonard."
He called me on Sunday morning to remind me of what he said last year, and added, ''this guy could've competed with Leonard, (Thomas) Hearns, (Marvin) Hagler, and (Roberto) Duran."
I can not disagree with that assessment.
It's not clear if Crawford is flattered by such praise or accolades. But this much is clear, he is as accomplished as any fighter, currently. He won a lightweight title, and has now fully unified at 140 and 147. It could be time to start putting him in all-time discussions.
“Like I said before, I only dreamed of being a world champion,” said Crawford. “I’m an overachiever. Nobody believed in me when I was coming up, but I made everybody a believer. I want to thank Spence and his team because without him none of this would have been possible.”
Yeah, it was a rough week for the PBC, first Fulton lost his titles, and then Spence. Activity is something that I bring up a lot, some say I belabor the point. (Which might be true, but it won't stop me from continually harping on it). Ask any fighter, past or current, and they will tell you that 'ring rust' is real.
So as you check Fulton's record, you'll see that prior to last week, he hadn't fought since June of 2022. Which is a layoff of around 13 months. While Spence hadn't been in the ring since April of 2022, meaning that he had been sidelined for approximately 15 months.
Naoki Fukuda/Top Rank
The layoffs alone do not account for the results of the fights last week. The reality is that they faced two gifted fighters, who had been at least a bit more active. I think it's fair to say this was a variable that could impact a boxers performance.
So yeah, activity matters, at least a little bit.
Seniesa Estrada had to gut one out late versus the tough Leonela Yudica on Friday night to retain her minimumweight titles...Looks like its the end of the road for Nonito Donaire, who's next stop will be Canastota...Buzzkill: Top Rank has announced that the August 19th bout between light heavyweight champion, Artur Beterbiev, and Callum Smith has been post-poned. A Top Rank press release explained that Beterbiev suffered from a bone infection to his jaw and underwent surgery...Regis Prograis will defend his WBC junior welterweight title vs. Devin Haney on October 28 per Mike Coppinger of ESPN....OK, fall camps for the upcoming college football are opening up all across the country this week. Yeah, hope springs eternal....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....