Crawford puts on clinic in stopping Spence in ninth

Credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
Terence Crawford was dominant in his 9th-round TKO win over Errol Spence Jr. and became the undisputed welterweight champ.

LAS VEGAS — If you were looking for a classic fight, sorry to disappoint you.

But if you were looking for a dominating performance, a masterclass in boxing, be glad you watched Terence Crawford do his thing in the ring Saturday night t T-Mobile Arena.

The 35-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska was simply too much for Errol Spence Jr. Crawford knocked Spence down three times — once in the second round and twice more in the seventh en route to scoring a ninth-round TKO victory with 28 seconds left and now is the undisputed king of the welterweight division, holding all the belts.

It is the second time Crawford has had that distinction. He was the undisputed super lightweight champ. But he has made history as the first male fighter to do so. He is a perfect 9-for-9 as a welterweight, stopping all of his opponents as he is 40-0 with 31 KOs.

“Errol Spence is a tremendous talent,” Crawford said. “He has a great jab. Our main focus was to take away his best attribute. And the rest is history.”

Crawford praised referee Harvey Dock for his decision to stop the fight when he did.

“It was a good stoppage,” Crawford said. “I was on the verge of coming back with some hard shots. Everybody knows I’m a great finisher. The referee did what he’s supposed to do to protect the fighter.”

Spence gave Crawford his due.

“My timing was a little bit off and he got me with some shots,” Spence said in the wake of suffering his first loss as a pro and dropping to 28-1. “I’m not going to make no excuses. He had his timing down. He was just the better man (Saturday).”

Crawford, who was a minus-160 betting favorite at BetMGM at fight time, said going in he wasn’t going hunting for a knockout. But if the opportunity presented itself, he would go for it.

Sure enough, he had Spence hurt on several occasions and he went after him the way Ahab went after the white whale. He was relentless in his pursuit without being overly careless. His ring generalship was superior round after round and if Spence had a Plan B or a Plan C after Plan A of using his jab to dictate the terms of the fight, it never materialized.

Spence’s footwork was subpar and got worse the longer the fight went. He really couldn’t establish much offensively and every time he tried to walk in and land a shot, he was on the receiving end of greater punishment.

It had to shock the sellout crowd of 19,990, which was expecting a battle for the ages but instead was treated to a one-sided performance by one of the era’s greatest fighters.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao may have hung up their gloves, but what Crawford did Saturday night elevated him into the conversation about all-time greats with that duo. Perhaps as well with the great fighters of the 1980s — Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran — and maybe down the road if he can continue his domination, with Sugar Ray Robinson, arguably the greatest of them all.

Crawford has craved that recognition and Saturday, he certainly earned it. He was that impressive.

“Like I said before, I only dreamed of being a world champion,” Crawford said. “I’m an over-achiever. Nobody believed in me when I was coming up. But I made everybody a believer.”

As for Spence, this was a “back-to-the-drawing-board” moment and he and his camp will undoubtedly learn from what he endured in the ring Saturday. Perhaps he’ll learn the way Canelo Alvarez did after Mayweather took him to school and gave him his first loss back in 2013.

Will there be a rematch? Should there be a rematch? Crawford’s fine with it. So is Spence.

“You saw the turnout for this fight,” Crawford said. “I think people would like to see it.”  

Spence said: “Definitely. We gotta do it again. I’m going to be a lot better. It’ll be a lot closer.”

Oh really? I guess Crawford won’t mind accommodating Spence again given what he did to him Saturday.