Here are the most eye-catching stories from this week’s/weekend’s boxing news and ring action:
– In what will go down as a masterful, legacy-defining performance, Terence Crawford battered and stopped Errol Spence Jr. in nine rounds Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to claim undisputed, fully unified four-belt champ status in the welterweight division.
Although Spence suffered a flash knockdown in the second round (the first knockdown of his career), the real turning point in the fight came at the end of the third when Crawford stopped Spence in his tracks with a handful of stiff jabs.
From that point forward, Spence wasn’t very Spence-like. His jab, perhaps the most crucial part of his game, had been taken away by Crawford’s own jab, which was quicker, stronger, and better timed. With the Spence jab increasingly a non-factor, Spence’s entire game plan fell apart and the IBF/WBA/WBC champ offered little offense beyond a few token swings for the fences.
The 35-year-old Crawford, who held the WBO title coming into this contest, would drop an increasingly beaten, discouraged Spence twice in the seventh round and then closed the show in the ninth, forcing a referee stoppage with about 30 seconds left in the round.
With the victory, Crawford’s record goes to 40-0 with 31 KOs. He also becomes the first fully unified welterweight champ in the four-belt era, a three-division world champ, and a two-division unified four-belt champion as well.
Spence’s record falls to 28-1 with 22 KOs.
“Errol Spence is a tremendous talent,” Crawford told Showtime’s Jim Gray after the fight. “He’s got a great jab and we was worried about the jab coming in because that’s how he sets up all his shots, off the jab. So, our main focus was the jab. Take away his best attribute and, you know, the rest is history…Normally, in camp, we do a flicking jab, but we knew that wasn’t going to work with Errol Spence because he’s durable, he’s strong. So, we had to practice on a strong, firm jab to jab with him and stop him in his tracks.”
“He was the better man tonight,” Spence told Gray. “He was using his jab…My timing was a little bit off and he was catching me between shots…He was just better tonight. I make no excuses. He did his thing…He was throwing the harder jab. He was timing with his jab. He had his timing down on point.”
On the Crawford-Spence undercard, Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz scored a split decision victory over Giovanni Cabrera in a WBA/WBC lightweight title eliminator, Alexandro Santiago bested Nonito Donaire via unanimous decision to claim the vacant WBC bantamweight title, and Cuban prospect Yoenis Tellez stopped Spain’s Sergio Garcia in three rounds.
– In other weekend ring action:
Atop a Friday ESPN+ card in Las Vegas, WBA/WBC minimumweight world champ Seniesa Estrada decisioned Leonela Yudica in a hard-fought ten-round contest. All three judges scored the fight 97-93.
– Unified lightweight champion Devin Haney, given a deadline by the WBC to either choose to remain at lightweight and face no. 1 contender Shakur Stevenson or move up to junior welterweight to challenge defending titlist Regis Prograis, has apparently chosen the latter. Plans are now reportedly under way for a Prograis-Haney 140 lb. title bout later this year. Haney, however, has also expressed a desire to hold on to his WBC lightweight belt while he challenges for the junior welterweight belt.
– In Puerto Rico federal court, former lightweight contender Felix Verdejo was found guilty of two charges relating to the death of his girlfriend and their unborn child. Convicted of “Kidnapping Resulting in Death and Death of an Unborn child,” Verdejo faces a sentence of 99 years for each conviction.
– Golden Boy Promotions has signed British 140 lb. contender Ohara Davies. The London native is currently no. 1 contender to the WBA’s junior welterweight champ Rolando “Rolly” Romero.