Terence Crawford Demonstrates How To Become An All-Time Great In One Night

Crawford's virtuoso display was the best of the century so far
12:25, 31 Jul 2023

Terence Crawford is one of the all-time greats. This view crystallised during his chastening destruction of Errol Spence Jr on Saturday. It has long been clear he is a fighter of the highest calibre. That much was evident as ‘Bud’ captured the lightweight championship before reigning as undisputed light welterweight champion. The claim was strengthened as Crawford knocked out seven consecutive welterweights in his campaign as WBO champion. But his legacy is no longer up for debate in the wake of capturing the undisputed welterweight crown against Spence. Crawford is indeed an all-time great.

Very rarely can you pinpoint the exact moment such a transition takes place. When one of boxing’s leading lights transforms into a historical figure before your very eyes. Crawford entered the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night as one of the best fighters on the planet. He left the squared circle as arguably the finest fighter of the era. Certainly, the performance he produced over nine rounds against Spence was the greatest pugilistic display of the 21st century.


History was in the air in Las Vegas. Not the cloying, sepia-toned history of the faces that have walked these boards before. This was not the Vegas of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. No, this was a uniquely modern type of history. That much was evident when Eminem accompanied Crawford to the ring. For a musician whose music is so ubiquitous, the rapper spends a lot of time out of the public glare. If the Real Slim Shady stands up, you know something truly enduring is about to happen.

Had Crawford lost to Spence, that Marshall Mathers cameo would have been seen as hubris. Think Prince Naseem Hamed entering the arena on a high-wire minutes before Marco Antonio Barrera used his head as a speedball. The Eminem entrance could have backfired, but it was Spence who would go on to lose himself in the moment.

Crawford was a picture of calm, even as Spence tried to ramp up the pressure in a busy second round. ‘Bud’ simply let him come before picking him off expertly for the knockdown. We didn’t know it at that point, but ‘The Truth’ was already beaten. Spence would pour forward from then on, trying to take the head off a man who refused to offer it up as a target. Crawford was serene under the rudimentary pressure. A lesser man would have folded. This man was barely even grazed.


A one-sided beatdown followed, doled out by Crawford to the unwilling recipient in front of him. No fight this century compares when it comes to a one-sided display in such a big-time fight. Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright’s dominance of Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad in 2005 was total, but his opponent was faded. Joe Calzaghe made Jeff Lacy look like a schoolboy in 2006, but the American later proved to be far from the A-list. Floyd Mayweather, for all his brilliance, never produced a performance as comprehensive as Crawford’s against a foe whose abilities erred close to his own.

Crawford stands alone in modern memory as a fighter who entered a true 50-50 superfight and emerged as so much more than a winner. This was as one-sided as high-level boxing gets. A true demolition job for a fighter who, overnight, has finally got his flowers as one of the greatest to ever lace up the gloves.

New converts owe it to themselves to go back through his career and watch the fights that set him on this path to greatness. The first career defeat he inflicted on Yuriorkis Gamboa, who at the time was tipped for the pound-for-pound list one day himself. The third-round knockout of Julius Indongo to go undisputed at 140 pounds. The destructive stoppages of British greats Amir Khan and Kell Brook. 

Crawford’s win over Spence was not a breakthrough in the traditional sense. ‘Bud’ is 35 years old and a world champion several times over. It was something more. The combination of the immense profile of the bout, billed as ‘Fight of the Century’, and the vicious excellence of the victory is potent. So potent that the event has elevated Crawford to a pantheon beyond other boxers. Carl Frampton told TNT Sports colleagues in the aftermath he thinks Crawford would have beaten Mayweather. 

That is the air ‘Bud’ breathes now. At welterweight his name will be spoken among those of the two Sugar Rays, Robinson and Leonard, Floyd and Manny Pacquiao. Crawford is keen to add to his legacy too. The new undisputed welterweight champion called out four-belt light middleweight king Jermell Charlo in the aftermath. If he was to win that fight, we might need a superlative beyond even all-time great to describe Terence Crawford.

latest boxing odds*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

Suggested Searches:
The Sportsman
Manchester United
Manchester City
Premier League
Sportsman HQ
72-76 Cross St
Manchester M2 4JG
We will not ask you to provide any personal information when using The Sportsman website. You may see advertisement banners on the site, and if you choose to visit those websites, you will accept the terms and conditions and privacy policy applicable to those websites. The link below directs you to our Group Privacy Policy, and our Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: [email protected]

All original material is Copyright © 2019 by The Sportsman Communications Ltd.
Other material is copyright their respective owners.