ESPN results: Terence Crawford becomes undisputed junior welterweight champion
Terence Crawford became the undisputed junior welterweight champion on Saturday night with a ripping body shot knockout of Julius Indongo in the third round to claim all four major alphabet belts. The championship bout was the main event of an ESPN telecast and held at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“I’m the only one that can be labeled as champion at 140 and that’s a big deal to me.” said Crawford in the post-fight interview with ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna. Not only for him but crowning a solidified champion in any weight class is a big deal for any boxing fan, especially when the term is exploited and spread over the four-recognized belts in a given division. That won’t be necessary for as long as Crawford stays at 140 pounds but how he did it, could propel him further than what a myriad of belts can ever get him.
Fighting out of nearby Omaha, and with the crowd on his side, Crawford, 32-0 (23), delivered a perfect left hook across the midsection of Indongo in the third and sent the Namibian into a squirm on the canvas. The 34-year-old tossed and turned as if he couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep, which seemed to be a better state than his nightmarish reality. Referee Jack Reiss kneeled over Indongo, while yelling his 10-count and, by the time he got to nine, Indongo leaned over in the fetal position, reminded that the pain doesn’t just stop after 10 seconds. Crawford jumped around the ring in jubilation after Reiss waved it off, capping off an instance in which any casual observer of boxing will realize there’s something special with this kid they call “Bud.”
Besides the highlight reel body shot to win the championship, there will forever be a slow motion shot of Crawford celebrating immediately after the win. The crowd can be seen on its feet, some fans scrambling to get their phones outs and others amazed at what they just saw. Things like that resonate with the unsuspecting viewer or rubbernecker. After building his career on HBO, Crawford made his debut on a much bigger ESPN platform that creates a beeline into the mainstream. With his kids holding every one of his IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO and THE RING Magazine belts, Crawford stood proudly with the trinkets that often confuse yet somewhat organize the sport boxing fans love. For the time being, 140 pounds is the most orderly class in the sport but, more important than any other historical narrative, with which boxing fans would like to equate, he made new fans on this night by giving them something to remember in the ring.
Indongo, 22-1 (11), eventually got up and was OK after the knockout. Never was he tentative in the fight or unwilling to take a risk but as early as the first round, a counter left from Crawford wobbled him. Indongo stayed active on his feet and often unraveled a left hand that buzzed by Crawford’s head a few times but he seemed wound too tightly. His long jab couldn’t keep Crawford from getting close and, in the second round, Indongo suffered an unbalanced knockdown. A 20-1 underdog going in, Indongo’s game plan seemed to rely on the left hand that got him there but ultimately his fate was a dividend for Crawford’s future success. Yet, the tale of how Indongo got to this point is an endearing one and that was reflected clearest as the Namibian smiled on his way to the ring.
In the co-feature, Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk forced a corner stoppage of Craig Baker in the sixth round to remain unbeaten. The light heavyweight contest was scheduled for 10.
It was an abrupt stoppage, considering the previous five rounds didn’t deliver much action, but a short right hand from the Ukrainian prospect changed everything. The shot caught Baker on the temple and the 33-year-old keeled over into the fight’s only knockdown. Baker, 17-2 (13), got up well enough in time before referee Celestino Ruiz’s 10-count ended but, once action resumed, Gvoozdyk stepped on the gas pedal. His explosive power was finally revealed, and with Baker trapped in his own corner, the Texan’s trainer could be seen stepping up to the ring with a white towel.
In the opening bout of the ESPN telecast, Shakur Stevenson outboxed David Paz for six rounds to eventually earn three identical scores of 60-53 for the unanimous decision victory.
Stevenson, 3-0 (1), a silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics, was patient with his jab to start but, with it, quickly won the battle of distance and positioning. His southpaw stance gave Paz trouble throughout and, many times, the Argentinian’s lead left foot was getting stepped on or tripped. That aside, Stevenson started to put together some combinations that were as fluid as they were creative. In the final minute of the fifth, his left hand dropped Paz for a knockdown but, upon further review, their feet were tangled. Paz, 4-4-1, had an awkward style to start but, by the second round, it was already apparent that the 20-year-old featherweight prospect was on another level.