A week from now, when Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor’s ghastly pantomime act has passed, boxing fans should revisit Terence Crawford’s three-round demolition of Julius Indongo. Seven or eight minutes of watching Crawford go to work will be the perfect tonic, a reminder of what the very best of this sport actually looks like.
There is no hard sell with the 29-year-old Nebraskan, no mink coats, no stage-managed persona, scripted one liners or crude narrative. Instead, you get elite skills, the elevated ring IQ of a great champion and a ruthless streak which sets him apart from his rivals.
It might not shift as many tickets, but this is boxing, not the WWE, and Crawford is among the very best in the world. If there was any doubt about his credentials then it was permanently erased by one of the finest body shots you are likely to see.
It sucked the life out of the dangerous Indongo and left him folded on the canvas, writhing in agony as Crawford celebrated in front of his home crowd. And with that signature knockout victory, he not only cemented his place among the top handful of fighters in the world, but also made history by becoming the first man in 12 years to unify all four major belts in a weight division.
“I’m blessed and humbled to be the undisputed champion of the world – it means everything to me,” said Crawford, who captured Indongo’s WBA and IBF belts to add to the WBC and WBO straps he already held. “I’m the only one who can say I am the undisputed champion of the world, and that’s big.
There’s nobody else who can say that they are undisputed in their weight division.”
As it has been for Crawford ever since he entered the 140-pound arena, this was all too easy for him. Indongo arrived with a reputation as a good traveller and a big puncher having previously wiped out Eduard Troyanovsky inside a round in Moscow and then putting a solid beating on Ricky Burns in Glasgow.
But as the beanpole Namibian looked to be the aggressor from mid-range, Crawford fired back with short, straight counters and deliberately targeted the body. A right hand put Indongo down in the second before a perfect left finished the job in the next. “It was something we had been working on,” explained Crawford.
“My coach told me he would throw those wild shots and would leave himself open down the middle, to the body.” Indongo said: “I couldn’t breathe, it hurt so bad. When he hit me that hard to the body, not only did it hurt, it took my mind away. I couldn’t think.”
No fighter has been in possession of all four major alphabet titles since Jermain Taylor relieved Bernard Hopkins of his middleweight collection in 2005, while the 140lbs weight class had never been fully unified before. Yet having conquered the division, Crawford now looks set to relinquish the belts and step up to welterweight and chase titles in a third class against bigger and better opposition.
However, with three of the four 147-pound crowns being held by PBC-signed fighters – Keith Thurman (WBA & WBC) and Errol Spence (IBF) – the path to the top looks full of political roadblocks. The obvious route to championship gold is to face the winner of the rematch between Top Rank stablemate Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn, where the WBO title will be on the line.
“Hopefully, we will match Crawford with the winner of that fight,” promoter Bob Arum said, also revealing he plans to seat him ringside in Australia to watch the action. “I’m all for it,” added Crawford.
“When you start boxing when you’re seven years old, that’s your dream, to become world champion, and after that you want to become something bigger than world champion. “You just don’t stop there – you go to the highest level possible. I need that 147-pound belt. That’s my next accomplishment.”
The WBA, WBO and IBF light heavyweight champion landed himself a prime gig as an analyst for the Crawford/Indongo card, heightening talk that he is set to pen a bumper contract with Top Rank.
The event in Nebraska was the third of Top Rank’s new series on ESPN, and Ward had already been strongly linked with Bob Arum’s promotional outfit. ‘Son of God’ had been with Roc Nation Sports, but Jay-Z’s company appear to be moving away from boxing in a hurry.
‘The Jackal’ saw his Belfast homecoming officially cancelled amid rumours of a split with manager/ promoter Barry McGuigan. Frampton was slated to face Mexico’s Andre Gutierrez in his home town last month but the fight was postponed at the 11th hour after his opponent suffered serious facial injuries slipping in the shower.
The bout has now been scrapped and Frampton is rumoured to be looking for new representation following reports of a rift with McGuigan, whose son Shane trains the 30-year-old.
It was 22 years ago this week the sporting world came to a standstill as Mike Tyson made his heavyweight comeback after four years in prison. In what was then the highest grossing fight of all time, worth an estimated $96m, Tyson annihilated no-hoper Peter McNeeley in 89 seconds at the MGM Grand.
It ended in farce as McNeeley’s manager invaded the ring to save his man further punishment in what officially went down as a disqualification. Tyson beat Frank Bruno for the WBC title the following year.
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