Terence Crawford completely outclassed Errol Spence Jr on Saturday night. He became undisputed welterweight champion of the world, the second time he’s become an undisputed champion, the first male fighter to do that in the four-belt era.
For years, Crawford heard from various angles that he hadn’t fought anyone, that he would struggle if he had been with Premier Boxing Champions, the outfit that all but owned the 147 lb division. Never mind that Crawford had won a title at 135 and gone undisputed at 140.
But it wasn’t an entirely illogical argument, even with Crawford passing every eye test with flying colors. After moving up to 147 in 2018, Crawford’s resume consisted of Jeff Horn, Jose Benavidez Jr, Amir Khan, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Kell Brook, Shawn Porter, and David Avanesyan.
Those aren’t bad fighters, mind you, any of them. But two of them — Brook and Porter — had already been beaten soundly by his PBC counterpart, Spence, who had also scored dominant wins over Lamont Peterson, Carlos Ocampo, Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, and Yordenis Ugas. He picked up three world titles along the way, starting by stopping Brook in 2017, going overseas just as Crawford had to win his first world title.
When you really break it down, it’s arguable the gap between the resumes isn’t that huge, but Spence was beating a lot of the names, because PBC had pretty much all the names.
Other than Crawford, who was signed with Top Rank. Cross-promotional and cross-network politics are up there among boxing’s biggest problems when it comes to delivering what fans want to see, and it took a few years for Spence and Crawford to finally get together, about 20 months after Crawford left Top Rank behind, saying on stage directly next to promoter Bob Arum that they had failed to deliver the big fight, and it was time for him to leave.
Saturday was expected to be competitive. The odds were narrow for a marquee boxing event, with “Bud” the slight favorite over Spence. And for a round, it looked like it might be a tactical affair, both looking to find the rhythm.
Crawford found it in round two. And then it was all Terence Crawford.
Two days before the fight, Crawford said, “Everything about me is better than Errol. When you look at what I do in the ring, it’s better than what he does. Come fight night, I’m going to prove every doubter wrong. I’m going to show that I’m the best fighter in the world.”
If he didn’t do that, he didn’t do anything. Everything about him was better than Errol. He proved every remaining doubter or skeptic wrong.
And it’s hard to say, with all due respect to the great Naoya Inoue, that Terence Crawford didn’t prove he was the best fighter in the world.
His fellow pros were in awe of what Terence achieved, as he battered Spence, bloodied him, dominated him, and dropped him three times before referee Harvey Dock mercifully stopped a one-sided affair in round nine.
Offering congratulations, Canelo Alvarez told Crawford, “You are a fucking great fighter. Well deserved.” Many proclaimed Crawford to be the clear top dog in the sport, pound-for-pound; again, it’s really hard to say he isn’t.
What Terence Crawford did against Errol Spence Jr was special. One commenter on this site during the live discussion compared it to the 2009 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, where a great fighter was just taken apart by a really great fighter, and I think that stands.
Crawford is, to use a meme phrase sincerely, built different. It’s not just skills, it’s not just the spite he has in his style, it’s not just hard work or confidence or his completely unflappable demeanor. It’s all of it. He is a complete package as a fighter, physically and mentally. He is truly, truly great.
There probably will be a rematch. It’s in the contract. Spence seems to have absolutely no interest in doing it again at 147 — meaning if Crawford insists on that, Spence may waive his right to the rematch — but Crawford sounds totally open to doing it at 154, noting that he also has to cut down to make weight, and as he approaches his 36th birthday, that won’t be getting easier.
He’s talked about moving up before, and with the money on the table for Crawford vs Spence 2 — and Terence will have his name first next time, without question — it might be hard to pass that up to stay at welterweight and fight someone like Jaron “Boots” Ennis, with full respect to Ennis.
But a rematch is for another time, and whether it’s needed or not isn’t even really part of the discussion. If they agree on the terms, it will happen.
For now, it is simply about appreciating Terence Crawford as quite possibly the best fighter in boxing’s post-Mayweather/Pacquiao era. In the biggest fight of his career, against the biggest test of his career, he made an elite fighter look no better equipped to deal with him than Jeff Horn or David Avanesyan were.
Give him the credit. All of it. Because he’s earned it and then some. He didn’t just win, he conquered.