Terence Crawford cemented his legacy as the standout pound-for-pound fighter on the planet with a nine-round beatdown of Errol Spence Jr in Las Vegas.
Crawford floored the Texan once in round two and twice in round seven to claim the undisputed welterweight championship in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The fight was lit on fire after a tense opening round when a perfectly-timed Crawford lead right planted Spence on the canvas in the final 30 seconds of the second.
The latter survived but Crawford’s dominance grew into the middle rounds with Spence’s face bloodied and bruised as he desperately searched for a route back into the fight.Embed from Getty Images
Crawford barely put a foot wrong on all night. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Stabbing jabs followed by inch-perfect straight lefts consistency rocked back the head of the Dallas man who looked helpless in the Vegas ring.
More punishment lay ahead in the seventh when Spence walked onto a Crawford right uppercut to find himself on the canvas for a second time.
The victory was all but confirmed with a third knockdown in the final seconds as eyes began to hone in on the Spence corner.
Derrick James allowed his fighter to continue but after a quieter round in the eighth for Crawford, he once again stepped up the pace in the ninth to seal the biggest victory of his career.
A barrage of hooks looked to wobble the legs of Spence who retreated to the hopes in search of respite only for Crawford to continue winging in more punishing blows to head and body.
Referee Harvey Dock had finally seen enough and mercilessly waved the contest off with 28 seconds remaining in the round.
Crawford’s crowning moment
A fight that was billed as 50-50 heading into the night had played out in a way almost no one had seen coming.
Crawford hadn’t just beaten Spence – he had brutalised him in front of millions of watching eyes to cement himself as the standout welterweight in a generation.
His family immediately joined in the celebrations in the centre of the ring as Spence returned to the shadows of his own corner.
The opportunity for a rerun remains an option for the latter due to a rematch clause inserted into the contracts, but whether a second fight would be of benefit is a different question entirely.
Pre-fight talk centred on the impact not only of two serious car accidents and a detached retina on Spence but also forcing his body to remain at a weight no longer natural to him.
A move to super-welterweight surely now remains the best option – possibly for both men – with no longer remaining questions to be asked of Crawford at 147lbs.Embed from Getty Images
Spence looked helpless against Crawford who refused to be denied in the Nevada ring. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Pound-for-pound number one
Naoya Inoue had secured his spot as the number one fighter in the sport earlier this week with a stunning stoppage of Stephen Fulton Jr to become a four-division champion, but the Japanese sensation’s time at the top was short-lived.
Crawford’s achievements stretch far beyond holding all the titles of four sanctioning bodies who operate purely for profit – he had turned in a performance for the ages while operating under more pressure than he had ever before experienced.
No matter what happens between now and the end of his career, the history books will always note the manner in which he reminded the boxing world of his standing among the elite.Embed from Getty Images
Crawford’s abilities shouldn’t be judged purely through the lenses of sanctioning body titles. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.