Terence Crawford becomes unified and undisputed
In front of more than 12,000 partisans that were packed inside the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, Terence Crawford did what was expected by dispatching the overwhelmed Julius Indongo in three rounds. His latest performance was capped off by a perfectly placed body shot that had the Namibian native writhing on the canvas, where he was counted out by referee Jack Reiss.
While Indongo came into the fight with two major title belts (which is basically the only reason he got this high-paid assignment because, after all – belts matter), he was a heavy underdog with the wise guys. Crawford was listed as a 15-1 favorite and he wasted no time in asserting his dominance. Unlike other fights, in which he probed early and surveyed the situation, on this evening, Omaha’s favorite son immediately utilized his scalpel to conduct surgery on the long and lean Indongo, who oftentimes looked like a baby calf trying to walk for the first time, as he frequently lunged and was off-balance as he moved around the ring.
Indongo hit the deck in the second round and then was finished off by a left hand to the body in an exchange in the third. No, Crawford didn’t beat a great fighter, by any stretch of the imagination, but unifying all four major titles (IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO) is a great achievement in this day and age, regardless. And while it’s easy and perhaps convenient to denigrate Indongo in hindsight, Crawford did what elite fighters are supposed to do with solid-to-good opponents – he out-classed him.
Again, it’s a mantra this scribe likes to state over and over again: Sometimes it’s not if you win but how you do it. The emphatic nature of Crawford’s win in front of a national audience, watching on ESPN, only further catapults his brand.
On this night on the campus of the University of Nebraska, this was a blowout that Tommy Frazier and the rest of the 1995 Cornhuskers would be proud of.
Some other random thoughts from this past weekend in boxing…
– OK, so Crawford went on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Sunday morning and stated his intention/preference to move up to 147 pounds, which certainly excites a lot of fans.
He has scaled Mount Everest at junior welterweight and awaiting him at the welterweight class are IBF titlist Errol Spence Jr., WBA/WBC champion Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. But the only problem is they are aligned with Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions. So are they realistic options as of this moment? Probably not.
But you do have the WBO title, which will be fought for once again in November by beltholder Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao in Australia. Both Horn and Pacquiao are handled by Top Rank (like Crawford) and the WBO could be called “We’re Bob’s (Arum) Organization.” With Crawford being the WBO titlist at 140, he would most likely assume the top spot in the welterweight rankings and be in line immediately for the winner of that rematch.
Just my opinion, if a real attractive – and, just as importantly, lucrative – option doesn’t materialize for Crawford in moving up, there are still some real fights left at 140 that include his IBF mandatory Sergey Lipinets, Regis Prograis, Antonio Orozco and, yeah, the pipe dream of Mikey Garcia (something tells me that Top Rank isn’t in a rush to do business with a guy who sued them a couple of years ago).
– Speaking of 140, if Crawford should vacate, you will have four belts up for grabs. As of now, here are the most likely fights that will take place for those belts (going by the highest rated challengers):
WBC: Amir Imam vs. Prograis
WBA: Rances Barthelemy vs. Kiryl Relikh
IBF: Lipinets vs. Akihiko Honda
WBO: Orozco vs. Maurice Hooker
– I said years ago that Crawford is the closest thing to a 130-pound version of Floyd Mayweather Jr. we had ever seen. But there comes a bit of twist as Crawford, a natural right-hander, is now basically a full-time southpaw. At one point in time he was the most prolific switch-hitter since Eddie Murray (the former Baltimore Orioles great, not the kicker) but, these days, he’s a left-hander, for the most part. And once again, he proved to be a master of controlling distance and space against Indongo, who was consistently lunging and reaching throughout the night, while Crawford always kept his feet underneath him, smoothly gliding about the ring. Crawford has superb reflexes and the flexibility of a gymnast, which allows him to make his opponents miss and pay all in one split-second.
If you do not stay behind your jab properly with the correct distance, he will eventually pick you apart.
Crawford, who ran his record to 32-0 (23), is perhaps the most versatile and adaptable fighter in the sport. Oftentimes people mistake flashiness for skill (i.e. Adrien Broner) but Crawford is that rare boxer who combines real technique with athleticism.
Now you guys can break down the numbers and debate just how good or bad they are. But it was interesting to see that, following Crawford’s stoppage of Indongo, SportsCenter led off with a clip of Mike Alvarado’s huge KO on the undercard. Then, after showing highlights of the Patriots-Texans game, they did a full segment on the fights back ringside from the Pinnacle Bank Arena, where Crawford joined Joe Tessitore, Andre Ward and Teddy Atlas. Then Crawford did the aforementioned segment on Sunday morning.
The broadcast nearly got delayed – like the one a couple of weeks ago that featured WBO junior lightweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko – as there was a rain delay in the Little League World Series game between the Dominican Republic and Australia, which had everyone on Twitter in a panic. Things got real dramatic in the final innings, as the boys “Down Under” staged a late rally but the final out (a force out at third) was made at 6:59 p.m. PT, just one minute before the boxing broadcast was to begin. This saved everyone from going into a downright panic in having to go to the ESPN app and “The Ocho.”
Look for the network to provide consistent coverage of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight all throughout this upcoming week in Las Vegas and the week of September 16, when IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin collides with Saul Alvarez.
– Was it just me or was light heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozydk carrying Craig Baker for at least a few rounds before getting rid of him in the sixth?
– It was cowboys vs. Indians on that undercard from Lincoln but one fight that really stood out was welterweight Mike Reed just bludgeoning Rob Frankel over 10 rounds. To paraphrase a line from Sonny Liston as he cut up Chuck Wepner: While Frankel was tough, the toughest guys were Frankel’s corner, who kept sending their guy out there in the late rounds of a lost cause. There comes a certain point for guys like Frankel, who was brought in as cannon fodder for the undefeated Reed, to be saved from themselves. They had done their jobs, which was to give Reed some rounds, in which to sharpen his skills.
What was the point of letting him take that beating?
– Featherweight Shakur Stevenson has some skill but it’s obvious that, at age 20, he is still years away from getting his “man strength.” While Top Rank CEO Bob Arum has talked about moving the U.S. silver medalist quickly, honestly, Stevenson will most likely have to be moved like most prospects and it will take at least a few years and 20-or-so fights. He faced David Paz last weekend and, while he easily won a six-round decision, he didn’t necessarily wow anyone with his performance.
Wasn’t blown away by Alberto Machado on Friday night but I’d like to see him face a more willing dance partner than Carlos Morales…”The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me, returns this week…”Mr KO Tickets” Jim Boone returns on “The Next Round,” with Gabe Montoya and me, on Monday…Yes, I’ll be at the StubHub Center on Saturday, for Miguel Cotto-Yoshihiro Kamegai…There is actually a few college football games this upcoming weekend…Any radio shows that want to have me on regarding May-Mac, please don’t call me…I really like these Rams rookies on the offensive side of the ball…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.