Don’t Be Surprised If Crawford Dominates at Welterweight Too

The fight was no contest. Nobody predicted it would be that easy, but it was said in this space there was a chance undisputed junior welterweight champ Terence Crawford 32-0 (23) might turn in his best career performance, and the consensus is he very well may have.

Crawford dropped previously undefeated Julius Indongo twice and stopped the now former WBA/IBF title holder in the third round with a counter shot to the body. Indongo didn’t need to be counted out because all watching knew it was over as soon as he went down. After the fight Julius said he’d never been hit so hard.

After fighting the first round in a measured and calculating way, and noticeably getting Indongo’s attention by the end of the round, Crawford picked it up in the second round. Sensing Indongo was moving with slight trepidation, Crawford did what he always does, picked up the pace and gave his opponent more to be concerned about. Crawford worked Indongo up and down from behind his jab from the right and left, ultimately baiting Indongo to open up and start reaching and leaning as he punched. Thus Crawford countered him and when Indongo thought the flurry was over, he was hit with punches he was only guessing where they were coming from. The body shot to end the fight was a beauty and the scary thing is that I don’t believe Crawford had yet found his stride, but was still processing things.

In Crawford’s last two title unification bouts against Viktor Postol (WBC) and Julius Indongo (WBA/IBF), he scored four knockdowns, overwhelming opponents who were a combined 50-0. Yes, he took apart two undefeated challengers who were both physically bigger than him and thought to be a stumbling block.

It’s been said repeatedly in this space that Terence Crawford is the top pound-for-pound fighter in boxing, yet some still have their “perfect” list with fighters the likes of Andre Ward, Gennady Golovkin and Vasyl Lomachenko ranked ahead of him. So I give in; I will never refer to Terence Crawford as the top pound-for-pound fighter in boxing again….because in the hypothetical world, any novice observer can refute that. In light of that I will refer to Crawford as “TBFIB” or the best fighter in boxing.

You can’t refute that and here’s why: Because Crawford is the most stylistically versatile fighter in the sport. There’s nothing in a boxing ring that Ward, Golovkin or Lomachenko can do that Crawford can’t. Crawford has no vulnerability to any style. How many fighters can that be said about, not just today, but in history? Ward can be hit and lumped up and he’s been down twice. Golovkin showed for 12 rounds that if forced to fight a mover he’s not nearly the same fighter, not to mention he’s dominated the most pedestrian middleweight division of my lifetime. Lomachenko can be roughed up and taken out of his game. Yes, he’s improved but the sample for evaluating him is too small. I’d be willing to bet he can’t adapt equally from both sides like Crawford can — and actually has — against title unification level opposition. Vasyl was confronted with resistance only once and he lost.

Crawford has raised his game when he’s been pushed and against better opposition and more than a few times. Everything Crawford does has a purpose, whereas Lomachenko does things that are more for show. And I get it, but other than exciting the crowd, Lomachenko’s antics don’t win fights. To the crowd that likes fighters who look different, I definitely see why he’s their guy….just don’t say he’s a better fighter than Crawford until you have more than the eye test and sizzle to back it up.

I’ve seen enough. There’s no kryptonite for Terence Crawford. He’s rangy with the ability to throw every punch from every angle from any side or stance. He also has the capacity to process what his opponent is doing faster than any other active fighter, just ask Julius Indongo. If you attack and go after him, he’ll hit you from unconventional angles and counter you while you’re reloading and searching for an answer. He’s murder on the inside and if you think you can draw him to you looking for the counter, he can attack and pivot to land his best finishing shots. He is equally effective fighting as the attacker and defending while right or left handed, and he possesses fight altering power from either side.

Crawford is physically strong and looks to be getting stronger with each fight. He punches hard because he gets great leverage and accuracy on his shots. No matter how hard you fight and go after him, he always has another gear for separation. And don’t get him mad because in the ring he’s a mean guy. Sure we might see him get dropped here and there, but that’s because he’s always looking to attack, and any fighter with that mindset can get clipped in the process. But if he gets up, you better start your car and get out of there.

The welterweight division better be on alert. Terence Crawford will soon be there. Some question if Crawford will have the strength and durability to run with the big boys at 147. Well, Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather were successful at lightweight and welterweight and neither was as good as Crawford when they were at the stage of their careers where Crawford is now. Mosley wasn’t great defensively and Crawford is stronger with even more stylistic dimensions than Mayweather.

Go ahead and rank Andre Ward, Vasyl Lomachenko or the Canelo-Golovkin winner above Crawford. On paper it looks good….but in the ring, Terence Crawford is a better fighter than all three, and the best in boxing. The debate begins with who is number two.

I expect Crawford’s style and physicality to travel well northward 7 pounds. Look out welterweight division.

Photo credit: Sarah Hoffman

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