Anthony Joshua is confident that Errol Spence Jr. is a much better fighter than what he showed in the ring against Terence Crawford. (photo by Ryan Hafey)

Spence, of Desoto, Texas, suffered a colossal beatdown from Crawford last Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Omaha, Nebraska’s Crawford dropped Spence three times before referee Harvey Dock waved off the bout in the ninth. Crawford, who turns 36 next month, is now the undisputed welterweight champion. It is the second time he has cleaned out a division, having done so previously in the 140-pound weight class.

The comprehensive way in which Spence lost has prompted some to suggest that the Texan should think twice before summoning a rematch straightaway. Others have even called for Spence to simply retire. Spence has a contractual right to invoke an immediate rematch with Crawford.

In a recent interview, Joshua, who shares the same trainer as Spence in Derrick James, encouraged his stablemate to pursue a rematch with Crawford. The former heavyweight titlist from London seemed to hint that something had gone awry with Spence during his training camp.

“That’s not the Errol we know,” Joshua said in a conference call with reporters. “He’ll be back better. If you look at it for what it is—and I rate Terence Crawford before this fight, Terence is an elite fighter, so is Errol. Now, Errol just wasn’t—I know that wasn’t the guy I watched many a time before. I didn’t see everything in training camp because we had different times, but I did see him working hard.

“But just from a performance point of view, I think they should have confidence in themselves knowing in the rematch if they get whatever happened in the training camp which was going wrong, if they get it right, I think they’ll give Bud a much tougher fight. Errol didn’t land on his back. He wasn’t knocked out on his back. He got stopped on his feet. So run it back and start again. I think they should definitely go again. I don’t think he should retire.”

Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) is set to face an opponent to be announced on Aug. 12 at The O2 Arena in London. He was initially scheduled to have a rematch with Dillian Whyte, who was pulled from the fight on Saturday after testing positive for a banned substance. The 33-year-old ‘AJ’ linked up with trainer James after suffering back-to-back defeats to unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. They debuted their partnership in the spring, with a unanimous decision win over Jermaine Franklin.

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.