By Jeff Zimmerman at ringside
Photos: Emily Harney
WBO welterweight champ Terence “Bud” Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) out of Omaha, NE blasted out WBC, IBF and WBA titleholder Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. (28-1, 22 KOs) out of Dallas, TX to become the undisputed welterweight king on Saturday night in front of 19,990 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Crawford dropped Spence three times, once in the second and twice in round seven before referee Harvey Dock waived it off in round nine after Crawford landed a barrage of power shots. The time of stoppage was 2:32 of round nine.
This was a fight for the ages, two undefeated, top five pound-for-pound fighters fighting for legacy.
Spence and Crawford used one round as a feel out round, but by round two there was no turning back and the fight was on. Spence worked the jab and did nice work to the body, but after missing on a shot inside, Crawford countered with a left and straight right that dropped Spence for the first time in the fight. Spence continued to work the body in round three, but Crawford was just waiting for his moment to counter and show off his blazing speed and power shots with both hands.
By round four, Crawford displayed his full arsenal and took control of the fight as he was firing on all cylinders and Spence seemed to have no answer.
Crawford had stated before the fight exactly what was to be expected.
““He’s gonna find out the same thing that everyone else finds out. He’s gonna say that on TV I look one way. In the ring he’s gonna be seeing three of me.”
In round seven, Crawford landed a counter right that put Spence on the canvas for the second time and Crawford smelled blood in the water. And right before the end of the round, Crawford fired a short, right uppercut and right hook to put Spence down again. By this point, Spence would need a miracle knockout as Crawford was in complete control and was looking to kill the self-proclaimed “Big Fish.”
In round nine, Crawford wobbled Spence, but the warrior in Spence kept fighting back, but could not hurt Crawford or slow him down.
After another barrage of punches by Crawford, referee Harvey Dock stopped the carnage and Crawford was now the undisputed welterweight champion of the world and #1 pound-for-pound king.
With his one-sided beatdown of “Man Down,” Crawford stamped his legacy as a generational talent on the biggest stage in the biggest fight boxing has seen in many years.
Crawford and Spence knew coming in what a win would do for their respective legacies, calling this a “throwback” fight to the 80’s of the 4 Kings – Leonard, Duran, Hagler, Hearns.
Spence shared this sentiment leading up to the fight.
“People are gonna talk about this fight 30 or 40 years from now when you talk about legendary fights. They’re gonna talk about this fight the same way they talked about the ‘Four Kings’ era. There’s gonna be an amateur 20 years from now watching our fight on YouTube and saying man, I want to be in a fight like that.”
Crawford, who lives his life with that proverbial chip on his shoulder, predicted what was to come on Saturday night, as if the script was already written.
“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.
“This is the Terence Crawford era. When you look at my body of work in each weight class, you can’t deny that. This is my era. I’ve never had a close fight. I’ve never had a fight where people thought I lost. I’ve looked spectacular every time.”
No one should ever doubt Crawford again after his dominating performance against Spence and in a fight for the ages of two undefeated champions fighting for legacy, Crawford showed on this night he was perhaps now in a class with the legendary Leonard, Duran, Hagler and Hearns.
In a post-fight interview with Jim Gray, Crawford had this to say about his performance:
“Nobody believed in me growing up. Thanks to Spence and team because without him this isn’t possible…undisputed means everything to me. They tried to blackball me, badmouth me, tried to keep me out and I kept praying to God and tonight I showed how great I am.”
“The main focus was to take away his jab, his best attribute.”
On Mike Tyson saying ringside that Crawford’s jab is a battering ram:
“We practice that. He’s durable, strong so we practice strong, powerful jabs to stop him in his tracks.”
Spence told Jim Gray in the ring he would like a rematch at 154.
Final round: As rumored, the legendary rapper Eminem took Crawford up on his offer for his ring walk. Although Eminem didn’t sing, his hit “Lose Yourself” played in the arena.