Terence Crawford open to junior middleweight rematch with Errol Spence
LAS VEGAS – Terence Crawford came, saw, and conquered Errol Spence in an extraordinary performance for the ages Saturday night.
With the win, Crawford became the Ring Magazine and undisputed welterweight champion of the world before an announced crowd of 19,990 at a loud and boisterous T-Mobile Arena.
It was not a surprise in Crawford (40-0, 31 knockouts) winning, as he was the betting favorite, but it was how Crawford made it look easy. Crawford dropped Spence three times en route to a knockout win in the ninth round.
Crawford, who resides in Omaha, Nebraska, pointed out that the victory over Spence, who entered Saturday’s fight as an unbeaten and unified world titleholder, was not as easy as it may have been. Rather Crawford put himself through a rigorous process to get ready to face his toughest opponent, on paper, thus far in his pro career.
“Like I said, we trained so hard in training camp that it may look easy in the ring, but these fights (are) never easy,” said Crawford at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “These fights are very, extremely hard because we put our body through the most in training camp. I worked my ass off to get to where I’m at today, to perform for each and every one of you. I even did things that was different, this fight. We did a pre-camp, came out to Vegas, stayed for a month. I’ve been working for a long time, for just this one moment. It’s never easy.”
Spence (28-1, 24 KOs), who resides in the Dallas, Texas suburb of Desoto, gave credit to Crawford for his performance and victory.
Despite the fight being one-sided, the 33-year-old did hold out hope for a rematch, but it would have to be at 154 pounds. Spence stated during fight week his fight against Crawford would be his last at welterweight.
“It was an off-night,” said Spence. “The better man won tonight. I’m not going to make any excuses. My timing was off. (I) couldn’t capitalize on a couple of things.
“I felt cool. I thought I could definitely do enough to win the fight. I felt good. Like I said, I’m not here to make any excuses. I’m a grown man. I decided to agree to the weight and get down to it and that’s what I did. No excuses. Hats off to the champion tonight.
“I’m not going to stew over (this). I did what I was supposed to do, regardless of the outcome. Like I said, I was going to do something and I promised everybody I was going to do it. So I did it as a man. I sit on my words. I’m definitely not going to sulk up over this. I’m going to get right back and get to it, hopefully at 154 pounds.”
Crawford was also open to a rematch at 154 pounds.
“It definitely don’t have to be at 147 (pounds),” said Crawford. “Like I said, I’m in the hurt business. 147 was hard for me too. I was already talking about moving up in weight, challenging (Ring Magazine junior middleweight champion Jermell) Charlo. So 154 wouldn’t be an outreach of anything.”
This past week marked a unique and unprecedented chain of events, where three fighters on Ring Magazine top 10 pound-for-pound list. On Tuesday, Naoya Inoue captured the WBC and WBO world title belts, stopping Stephen Fulton in the eighth round.
There was debate whether Inoue would become the No. 1 fighter, pound-for-pound, in boxing, or the winner of Saturday’s clash between Crawford and Spence. Entering Saturday, Inoue, Crawford, and Spence were rated No. 2, 3, and 4, respectively.
As of Sunday, the Ring Magazine Ratings Panel had Crawford ahead (by a vote of 5-1-1) to be the No. 1 fighter, pound-for-pound. Even Crawford agrees.
“Without a doubt,” said Spence, who is trained by Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntyre. “Like I told everybody once before, the winner out of this fight was going to be No. 1, pound-for-pound, hands down. You got two fighters who are in the top 5, (in the) pound-for-pound ratings. How can they not be No. 1, pound-for-pound?”
Even as several boxing publications, media, boxing insiders, and fans have praised Crawford, he still held out grudges to naysayers, especially to those leading up to the Spence fight.
Crawford was the slight betting favorite going into the fight, but felt dissed by criticisms from media and fans. He kept receipts, addressing some members of the media at the post-fight press conference, but also stated he hopes the win over Spence would give him credit that he deserves.
“I’ve been telling each and everyone one of you all for years. A lot of you all over here looking sad. All in all, I get to say I told you all because I’ve been asking for these fights for years. You all have been saying I’m too small, I’m going to get broken. Each and every time that I step up, I prove you all wrong. Each time. Write some great stories about Terence Crawford. Don’t hate on him. Don’t say nothing negative. Just give me my props.”
Although becoming the undisputed welterweight champion would be a pinnacle moment for Crawford, he still believes his victory over Ricky Burns to win the WBO world lightweight title in March 2014 is his top moment as far as winning a world title belt.
The win over Spence felt more personal, especially for what was said over the years and in recent months.
“I don’t think there’s ever going to be a moment to actually make me feel the way I felt in Scotland that day. That was my whole dream. I was filled with so much excitement all the way to Scotland. Me, the little bit of family I had, my team and to come back a world champion, something that I dreamed of as a kid. My dream came through that one night.
“(Saturday night) is right up there. This was a fight that was talked about for many years. This is a fight when I walk in a store, my kids watching YouTube, everybody asking me, ‘When are you fighting Spence?’ ‘Dad, this dude said you’re scared of Spence.’ Me always having to hear this guy’s name. It’s like a breath of fresh air that I get to breathe because we finally done it. And it’s done and over with.”
As far as what is next, there is a rematch against Spence, although the buzz generated on social media does not want to see that fight right away, if ever. There are mandatory fights against IBF No. 1 fighter Jaron ‘Boot’ Ennis or Eimantas Stanionis, the WBA’s mandatory.
There was the possibility of Ring Magazine junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo, but he will move up in weight to fight Ring Magazine super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez on September 30.
Crawford does not know, but is open to anything next.
“In two months, I’ll be 36 years old. I’ve been boxing since I was 7 years old. I’ve been doing sports all of my life since I was 7. I don’t know. I have to sit down with my team and talk about the future.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]