LAS VEGAS – Terence Crawford considered himself the best boxer, pound-for-pound, in the sport prior to his legendary destruction of Errol Spence Jr.
The three-weight world champion contended that there shouldn’t be any doubt about it after his career-defining, dominant performance versus Spence on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena. For those that claim Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue earned the top spot by stopping Stephen Fulton in the eighth round Tuesday night in Tokyo, Crawford confidently stated his case after dropping Spence three times and beating him by ninth-round technical knockout in their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event.
“Without a doubt,” Crawford replied when asked during his post-fight press conference if he is boxing’s pound-for-pound king. “Like I told everybody once before, the winner out of this fight was gonna be number one pound-for-pound, hands down. You got Errol Spence, was ranked number four in the pound-for-pound. And you got Terence Crawford – I was ranked number one. So, you got two fighters that’s in the top five pound-for-pound ratings. How can [the winner] not be number one pound-for-pound?”
The 35-year-old Crawford’s complete performance against the previously unbeaten Spence is the crowning achievement thus far for a fighter that has long ranked at least among boxing’s top three pound-for-pound. He became the sport’s first fully unified welterweight champion of the four-belt era and its only male champion to earn undisputed status in two divisions during that same span of time.
Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) also is the only opponent to send Spence to the canvas during the former IBF/WBA/WBC champion’s 10-year, 29-fight professional career. The Omaha, Nebraska native’s power, speed, maneuverability, power jab and counter-punching befuddled Spence, a southpaw who won only one round apiece on the scorecards before referee Harvey Dock understandably stopped their one-sided bout at 2:32 of the ninth round.
Spence (28-1, 22 KOs) was on his feet when Dock stepped between them to halt the action, but Crawford had landed various power punches that knocked a battered, bloodied Spence around the ring. Crawford dropped Spence once in the second round, twice in the seventh round and led by the same score, 79-70, entering the ninth round according to judges Tim Cheatham, David Sutherland and Steve Weisfeld.
Four nights earlier, Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs) was nearly flawless while defeating Philadelphia’s Fulton (21-1, 8 KOs) to become a champion in a fourth division. The 30-year-old Inoue, of Yokohama, Japan, was the undisputed bantamweight champion before he moved up four pounds, from the 118-pound division to junior featherweight, to challenge Fulton for the WBC and WBO 122-pound titles.
Fulton, 29, was an undefeated, unified champion, but he was not commonly considered a top-10 fighter among pound-for-pound voters.
Most pound-for-pound lists haven’t been updated since Inoue and Crawford produced their respective impressive victories over Fulton and Spence.
BoxingScene.com has Inoue ranked number one on its latest list, Crawford third and Spence fourth. Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs), the IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion, is number two, according to BoxingScene.com.
ESPN.com listed Crawford at number one, Inoue number two, Ukraine’s Usyk number three and Spence number four in its newest top 10. The Ring magazine most recently rated Usyk first, Inoue second, Crawford third and Spence fourth.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.