SAN DIEGO, August 19, 2017 – Making his ringwalk through the Pinnacle Bank Arena among the electrified sellout crowd of nearly 12,000 fans, the stakes could not have been higher for Omaha, Nebraska native Terence “Bud” Crawford. For only the fourth time in the modern era of boxing, Crawford and Julius Indongo of Namibia their collective four titles in the junior welterweight division on the line, winner take all.
Crawford took them with a definitive statement win, knocking out Indongo with body shots at 1:38 of the third round. Crawford remains undefeated at 32-0 with 23 knockouts. Indongo suffered his first loss and is now 22-1,11 KOs. Crawford now holds the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles from all major sanctioning organizations simultaneously.
“I thank God for this blessing. It feels great, it feels man, like a dream come true” said Crawford of his accomplishment. “I thank everyone who came out, Nebraska, America, everyone. This is for you.”
Perfect performances like this one are made in the gym. Crawford said he and trainer Brian McIntyre worked on the specific game plan fans watched Crawford execute on Saturday. “Oh man, we been practicing body shots all camp, it’s been a rough tough camp. Everything we worked on in camp came out tonight,” said Crawford after the win.
“I knew the body was going to be open the way he throws his punches, that’s something we’ve been working on in the gym. Repetition, repetition, repetition!” Crawford explained.
Crawford, who fought all three rounds from the southpaw stance, was in command from the opening bell. The version of Indongo who knocked out Eduard Troyanovsky in 2016 at 46 seconds of the first round didn’t show up Saturday. Indongo never seemed to have his feet under him, or figure out a way to strike Crawford without leaving himself open.
Crawford was composed, surgical in his precision, and patient. His confidence is built o his preparation in the gym, which he later called “a rough, tough camp.” Normally thought of as a slow starter, Crawford wasted no time pushing Indongo to gain his respect. In the second round, he began setting traps and the anxious Indongo was happy to play along. When Indongo realized Crawford was making a play, he couldn’t get out of the way due to Crawford’s speed and accuracy.
Crawford knocked Indongo down with a minute to go in round two, courtesy of a right hand to the body followed by a left to the temple behind the ear. As indongo’s balance wasn’t so solid to start with, he went down quickly. Indongo beat the count and managed to survive the round.
Crawford went right back to work at the bell. Indongo knew his time was running out, and he tried to land left hooks, but Crawford shrugged the attempts off. He saw his opening, and hit Indongo with a textbook perfect left hook to the liver, punctuated by a right hook to the solar plexus. Indongo hit the canvas, clutching his midsection from the pain of the punches. He never got up as referee Jack Reiss counted him out. Crawford lept into the air as the fans who weren’t already standing lept to their feet in celebration.
Cynics question whether the belts really matter. If you watched Saturday’s fight, you know the answer. As for Crawford, he said, “You know, I’m the only one that can be labeled as champion at 140 pounds, and that’s important to me.
“There’s only going to be one name at the end of the day, and that’s Terence Crawford. It means everything. When you start boxing when you’re seven years old, that’s your dream to become world champion. And then to become something bigger than world champion, to go to the highest level you want to go to.”
The final accomplishment would be to achieve consensus number one pound for pound status on every boxing journalist and professional ranking system. Crawford has been within the Top Ten for several years, edging into the Top Five on several lists. With pound for pound number one fighter Andre Ward sitting ringside providing color commentary, Crawford was asked if he thinks he deserves Ward’s spot on the list. “Andre Ward is one of my favorite fighters, but I have to top him on this one,” laughed Crawford.
It’s a little too soon to shuffle the rankings. With bouts in the next six weeks for several of the top ten fighters including Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, as well as Roman Gonzalez, a statement win by any of them would affect the outcome. Without a doubt, Crawford will have a good case to make.
Crawford says he plans to go fishing and rest up with his family, then talk with his coaches and managers about what comes next. He may never defend his belts. Expect Crawford to move up to the 147-pound welterweight division where a whole new set of challenges wait for him, led by Keith Thurman, Errol Spence, Jr., and possibly the winner of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn rematch tentatively scheduled for November. Even though he’s untested at 147, it’s hard to imagine any one else threatening Crawford.
Notice we haven’t mentioned Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko, currently on top of the super featherweight division. At this point, Lomachenko is too small and Crawford too heavy for them to realistically meet anytime soon. It’s a possibility down the road if Lomachenko eventually decides to bulk up and move up for good, but far from a certainty.
Light heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk of Ukraine (14-0, 12 KOs) took his time dispatching a game but ultimately overmatched Craig Baker (17-2, 13 KOs) of Baytown, Texas. Gvozdyk was in no hurry to get down to business with Baker for the first half of the fight. Did he want the rounds, or was he showing respect for Baker’s record on paper? Credit to Baker for stepping up and making the fight at least seem competitive.
After five rounds as the audience and fans on social media started grousing about the relative lack of action, The Nail” got down to business. Halfway into the sixth round, Gvozdyk delivered the power punches everyone came to see, eventually placing Baker against the ropes with nowhere to go. He hit Baker squarely on the side of the head to the ear with a right hand as heavy as a bag of concrete, and he went down.
Baker got up, but with plenty of time left, it was only a formality. Referee Celestino Ruiz let Baker take a half dozen more unanswered punches and called it a night at 2:04 of Round 6.
Gvozdyk continued his knockout streak at six. Now it’s time for Top Rank to insist on some better competition for Gvozdyk, who has all the talent, motivation, and fan friendliness in and out of the ring to be a star for many years to come.
American 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (3-0, 1 KO) remained undefeated in his third professional fight, winning by a shutdown decision in his third professional fight in six rounds over David Paz of Argentina (4-4-1). Stevenson stayed in control throughout the fight, and his fundamentals are solid at the young age of 20 years old. He takes his time, and delivered several impressive punches with his straight left, including a knockdown in the third round. Stevenson still needs to develop his ring generalship and his command of the ring, but it will come with experience.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA, is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. She is owner of the Falcon Valley Group based in San Diego, California. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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