Terence Crawford made a bit of boxing history in Lincoln, Nebraska on Saturday night. Fighting in his home state for the right to become the undisputed light-welterweight world champion, Crawford ruthlessly disposed of Julius Indongo in the third round of an encounter which looked like it was only going to have one outcome from its opening moments.
The win added Indongo's WBA and IBF straps to the WBC and WBO titles already in the American boxer's possession. For good measure Crawford also holds the 140lb RING title – in terms of dominating a weight class you can't do any more.
Crawford has now cleaned out light-welterweight and is widely expected to move up to welterweight to face the challenges that await in one of boxing's traditional marquee divisions.
I shall return to Terence moving to 147lbs before the end of this article but first here is how the fight played out.
Entering the bout undefeated and holding two titles, Indongo, the tall, rangy and awkward southpaw from Namibia was expected by many fight observers, myself included, to have some moments of success in the fight and present Crawford with a reasonable challenge. This was not the case as Terence demonstrated superiority in all aspects of the sweet science during his quick victory.
The fight began with Crawford boxing as a southpaw, mirroring the lefty stance of Indongo. Indongo, looking jittery and anxious, didn't really attempt to establish his jab in the opening session. Instead he came out aggressive, throwing huge left hands in the general direction of Crawford. The home fighter, giving the impression that he would've been happy to just have a look at his foe, made the most of the opportunity to showcase his footwork and reflexes by avoiding the attacks coming his way and landing quick counters. After the round ended I thought that Indongo needed to make a change, otherwise he was playing right into Crawford's hands.
The second round followed more of the same pattern with Crawford content to lure Indongo in and counter at will. The wide punches of Indongo were leaving his body exposed and Crawford began to target his opponent's torso during this frame. Perhaps the magnitude of the occasion got to the Namibian as he was boxing in a desperate, reckless fashion despite the fight being less than six minutes old. He paid for this towards the end of the round when, off balance, he was caught by a right to the body and a left behind the ear. Indongo was down and although he got up smartly and tried to land another couple of huge left hands before the round ended, the writing was on the wall for him.
Crawford was showing a much higher ring IQ and punishing Indongo for every mistake he was making.
As the third round began Crawford was now on the front foot initiating the attacks. Firing his jab to the head and body of Indongo, Terence was now looking to create his own openings to hurt his opponent. A feigned jab to the head and a quarter step back just before the halfway point of the round baited Indongo. Julius threw a jab, left combo which missed and then Terence, in a flash, stepped into range and ended the contest with a filthy left to the liver. It was the type of body shot that no man can recover from in a mere ten seconds. Lying in agony on the canvas Indongo was counted out as Crawford, along with the entire arena, began to celebrate.
The Nebraska fans and the man they were there to support realised the magnitude of what had just been achieved. It was a great moment seeing the boxer and his loyal fan base lift their arms up, almost as one, to acclaim the historic accomplishment.
Speaking in the ring after the fight as he was surrounded by his family and all of the belts Crawford had this to say: “It feels great, like a dream come true. I'd like to thank everybody who came out. I'd like to thank Nebraska, America I did this for all of us. Belts matter, I'm the only one that can be labelled as champion at 140 and that's a big deal to me.” When asked about the punch that ended the contest, Crawford informed us: “We've been practicing body shots all camp. It's been a rough, tough camp and everything we worked on in the camp came out today in the fight.” Terence finished by not revealing too much about the future: “I'm going fishing next, and then I'm going to rest up with my family. My coaches and my manager, they're going to see what's next for me.”
Despite this guarded reply I am going to assume that Crawford will vacate the 140lb titles and move up to face the cream of the 147lb division. Being a Top Rank fighter it isn't too wild to predict that his welterweight debut will come against the winner of the Manny Pacquiao – Jeff Horn rematch. This would be easy to make, in theory, as Top Rank could keep the promotion in house. The bout would come with the added bonus of the WBO welter title being available for the winner.
Crawford moving up leaves a much changed landscape at light-welterweight. Four vacant world titles would mean opportunities for young, up and coming boxers as well as the established names in the division to fight it out for the honours. It could lead to an exciting series of fights featuring Antonio Orozco, Adrian Granados, Adrien Broner, Sergey Lipinets, Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor to name but a few. Of course Indongo will also be in the mix to claim back some of the hardware he lost last night.
The Terence Crawford – Julius Indongo fight showed us what can happen in a boxing ring when a competent, world level fighter runs into an elite one. Julius Indongo will hopefully be able to recover from last night and box again for world titles. The manner of Crawford's victory justifies his position at or near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings in boxing today. Terence looks primed for an assault on the welterweight division – title holders at 147 be warned, the man from Nebraska is coming for your belts.