Terence Crawford credits making a critical decision in the locker room moments before his clash against Errol Spence Jr. as the key to his undisputed welterweight title victory. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) is considered the most prolific switch-hitching puncher of his era, and the Nebraska native admitted in a recent interview with Joe Rogan that he strategically slugged it out with the lefty Spence as a southpaw en route to a ninth-round stoppage win.
“I made the change to fight southpaw in the back dressing room. I was like, 'How should I come out?'” said Crawford.
“I just had that chip on my shoulder to go head-on with the bull and just go fight him. I was like just box. And then I was remembering he hadn't fought too many southpaws before. And then on one of the occasions, he got hurt really badly by a hook. I was like, 'I'm coming out southpaw and we're going to box' just to start off. But at the same time, I'm going to get my respect out of the gate. I'm not going to be doing all of that moving. The plan was never to move ... He ain't no terminator. I was going to be right there in front of him like I always do. I was going to make him miss and make him pay and I fought my fight. I feel like that was the key to the victory because he wasn't used to fighting southpaws.”
The career-long welterweight Spence (28-1, 22 KOs) had only fought two southpaws prior to Crawford. Spence beat Chris Van Heerden in 2015 and Emmanuel Lartey in 2013.
Crawford knocked down Spence once in the second round and twice in the seventh before referee Harvey Dock stopped the one-sided onslaught with Spence still standing in the ninth. Crawford ended up outlanding Spence 185 to 96.
Crawford has fought almost exclusively in an orthodox stance in recent fights, and he admitted that it depends on the foe on how he approaches tactics.
“I think it's depending on the opponent [if I feel comfortable and better fighting orthodox vs. southpaw]. I feel that I am equally great in both stances. I'm very powerful from both stances. I hit just as hard with my left – probably even harder with my left – than my right,” said Crawford.
“I look at it like you can go nowhere – you're trapped. You move to your left, I can cut you off and go southpaw. You go to your right, I can cut you off and go orthodox. In the end, it's great that I can pack a punch in both hands as well. A lot of people, when they switch, give up something. When I switch I gain something in both stances that I probably don't have in the other stance. It's great for me.”
News broke on Thursday, that Spence exercised his immediate rematch clause. No date has been set.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.