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Crawford vs. Spence: Lopsided bout unifies welterweight title

BY JACK BROWN | On Saturday night July 29, Houston Hall provided a welcome relief from the New York City heat wave. The occasion was Terence “Bud” Crawford versus Errol “The Truth” Spence on the big screen for the undisputed welterweight championship of the world. All the belts.

When Bud Crawford emerged from the dressing room for the Vegas bout he was in beast mode. A menacing, malevolent presence in black. A creature from the deep or a gladiator from a Roman arena. Complete with a net slung across his shoulder.

In contrast, The Truth was almost festive in red and black. Sporting a bright-red MAGA-like cap. A vivid and telling contrast. A fight characterized by bad intentions precisely executed.

This was a fight demanded for five years by fight fans. Two undefeated champs with high knockout percentages. For the undisputed championship. Two top-five, pound-for-pound fighters each still in his prime.

Given boxing politics, the fight might never have happened. However, Crawford picked up the phone and, over time, terms were hammered out. They each picked up $25 million.

The quality of the fight was compared to the ’80s four kings era of Hagler, Hearns, Leonard and Duran. The best fighting the best. The reality of the combat was different, though. It did not have the homicidal savagery of Hagler vs. Hearns. It did not have the heroic back and forth of Leonard vs. Hearns. It did not have the capitulation of of Duran “no mas” vs. Leonard II.

Basically, Terence Crawford kicked Errol Spence’s ass. Beast mode. Dismantled him and caused the referee to step in in the ninth round to prevent further damage. A smaller, stronger, smarter man beat a bigger man. It wasn’t even close. Crawford exposed Spence’s flaws. Broke him down. Dominated him.

At the end of the second round, Crawford dropped Spence for the first time in his career. If there had been more time, Crawford might have finished Spence with more short, accurate punches. Crawford is a relentless finisher and he’s on a streak of 10 knockouts. The fight might have been done then and there.

But that was the tipping point. The point of no return. Crawford chose to primarily fight southpaw. He fights 77 percent of the time as a lefty. This means that his right, his power hand, becomes his jab. Its a snapping, skull-rocking shot that even fighters in heavier weight classes respect. That jab was the key to Crawford’s victory.

The fight opened like a fencing match. Spence won that round by being more aggressive. Crawford takes time to analyze the opponent and then goes to work. At the beginning, Crawford countered Spence successfully. As repetition took its toll on The Truth, Bud began to initiate the exchanges. To attack.

Spence didn’t adjust his approach. He came right at Crawford. Did not employ lateral movement or create angles. He was taken to deep water by the creature from the deep.

Spence was dropped twice more in the seventh round. At the end of the eighth, the only question was would Spence have enough to go the distance? He grew more desperate, leaving himself open. Crawford pummeled him from pillar to post, like a proverbial red-headed stepchild. Harvey Dock, the referee, stepped in in the ninth round to prevent further damage.

Spence suffered far more damage in this fight than he did in in a violent car accident when he was inebriated and flipped his sports car in October 2019. This time his luck ran out.

Houston Hall, at 222 W. Houston St., provided relief from the heat and a terrific venue for the fight.

On the East Side the Boy’s Clubs have cashed out. There is no longer a place where youths can learn skills and work off stress through organized boxing. Given the level of crime and violence, this is a void that needs to be addressed.

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