Terence Crawford outclasses Errol Spence, wins Ring Magazine/undisputed welterweight championship
LAS VEGAS – Hardcore boxing fans around the world anticipated two seemingly even showdowns between elite-level fighters this week. Instead, they were treated to two virtuoso performances by generational talents. On Tuesday, in Tokyo, Naoya Inoue dominated Stephen Fulton to an eighth-round KO, and on Saturday, in Las Vegas, Terence Crawford outclassed and dropped Errol Spence three times en route to a ninth-round stoppage.
The pound-for-pound debates will be way more competitive than the fights.
Inoue received his due praise during the week, and now we must give Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) his well-deserved flowers. The 35-year-old Omaha, Nebraska native became the first male boxer of the four-belt era to earn undisputed champion status in two weight classes (junior welterweight and welterweight) and he joined all-time great company — including the likes of Henry Armstrong, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather — by winning Ring Magazine championships in three divisions (lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight).
“I’m so mixed with so many emotions I could cry right now,” an unmarked Crawford said during his post-fight interview. “I always dreamed of being a world champion. Nobody believed me. I’m an overachiever. I want to thank ES because without him, none of this would have happened. (Becoming undisputed at welterweight) means everything because of who I took the belts from. Tonight, I showed how great I am.”
That he did. After dropping a “feeling-out” opening round to his slightly more aggressive fellow southpaw, Crawford took over the fight by scoring a knockdown with a stiff jab in the final seconds of Round 2. Spence (28-1, 22 KOs) tried to press Crawford in the early rounds but was continually beat to the jab and repeatedly stunned by counterpunches from odd angles while in close.
Crawford, who landed 38% of his jabs and an astounding 58% of his power shots according to CompuBox stats, was clearly the faster and more accurate puncher. He cooly blocked Spence’s punches while on the move and while standing in the pocket. Even while defending, Crawford was able to land lefts to the body and head from middle distance and jarring right hooks in close that bloodied and lumped up the face of the 2012 U.S. Olympian. His jab disrupted Spence throughout the fight, and sometimes even rocked the Dallas-area resident.
After scoring two knockdowns (off of right hooks) in Round 7, Crawford let everyone inside the T-Mobile Arena and those watching the Showtime PPV broadcast that the fight was essentially over. He landed at will in Round 8 and every punch he landed shifted and rocked a weary Spence in Round 9. Referee Harvey Dock did the right thing in stopping the fight at the 2:32 mark.
Crawford was respectful to Spence after the bout.
“Errol Spence is a tremendous talent, he has a great jab, so our main focus was his jab. You take away his best attribute and the rest follows. We had to jab with him, a firm jab, and stop him in his tracks.
“It was a good stoppage. I was on the verge of landing hard shots and I’m a great finisher.”
Spence was gracious in defeat.
“He was the better man tonight,” said Spence, The Ring’s No. 1-rated welterweight and holder of three world titles entering the fight. “He was using his jab. My timing was off, and he was just catching me with shots. He was just better tonight. He was throwing the harder jab and he had his timing down on point. My timing wasn’t on point.”
Despite the beating he took on Saturday, Spence said that he would enact a contractual rematch clause.
“We gotta do it again,” Spence said, “probably in December, hopefully at 154.”