Terence Crawford became the undisputed junior welterweight champion of the world and immediately set his sights on another division.
The demise of boxing has been greatly exaggerated. In 2017, a number of fights and fighters have emerged to present a glimpse of what the future holds for the sport. Last Saturday evening, junior welterweight Terence “Bud” Crawford (32-0, 22 KO) added his name to that list.
It was an historical night for the native of Omaha, Nebraska, who took an unusual route to the ring via a long walk through the top of the rafters. Enveloped by an electrified crowd of 12,121, Crawford was further endeared by asking the father of former Nebraska kicker Sam Foltz to join him in the ring. Foltz passed away in a car accident in 2016.
It was all business once the bell was cracked. Crawford needed only three short rounds to make boxing history. The southpaw stopped Julius Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs) with a vicious body shot to the chants of “Crawford” at the Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Not since middleweight Jermain Taylor dethroned Bernard Hopkins in 2006 have all four straps draped from the shoulders and waist of one male boxer. Cecilia Braekhus is the reigning undisputed female welterweight champion.
The feat has never been accomplished at 140lbs.
Crawford took his time throughout negating Indongo’s length and power going straight to the body through wild and wide shots to earn the KO.
The previously unbeaten champion out of Namibia writhed in pain and never attempted to rise as referee Jack Reiss counted him out. “He hit me hard to my body”, Indongo said post fight. “I couldn’t breathe, it hurt so bad. When he hit me that hard, not only did it hurt, it took my mind away. I couldn’t think.”
Already a two-division champion, Crawford made a strong case for recognition as the pound-for-pound best boxer in the sport. Teddy Atlas has him ranked no.3 behind the brilliant Vasyl Lomachenko and light heavyweight Andre Ward.
On the horizon
Crawford was way too much for Indongo who had traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, in April to dominate Ricky Burns to take the WBA belt.
Ringside, Atlas and Ward and discussed logical next steps for Crawford at 140lbs. The strongest contender would’ve been Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KO) who outclassed Adrien Broner earlier in the month.
The problem is, Garcia works with Al Haymon and Crawford is hitched to Top Rank who Garcia battled in court before a bitter separation.
Conquering the welterweight division
After being a bit elusive about his plans during his post-fight interview, the 29-year-old announced he’d be moving on to 147lbs.
“I’m planning on moving up to 147,” Crawford said on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “That’s the next step for me and my coaches and managers and my team. We’re going to try and conquer the welterweight division.”
About all of that new hardware Crawford declared, “For me to move up I would have to vacate all the titles. You just don’t stop there, you go to the highest level possible. I need that 147-pound belt. That’s my next accomplishment.”
It’s a bold move for Crawford who has always been game for a challenge. From top to bottom, the 147 division is the most talented in boxing. The current champions at welterweight are Jeff Horn (WBO), Keith Thurman (WBA and WBC), and Errol Spence Jr. (IBF).
Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum has already planned for Crawford to sit ringside in Australia for the November rematch between current welterweight champion Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao.
“Hopefully, we will match Crawford with the winner of the fight,” Arum said. Fans can certainly look forward to a strong finish to an already solid year of boxing.
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