Naoya Inoue, Stephen Fulton, Terence Crawford, and Errol Spence.
Four undefeated champions.
Boxing fans had debated for months and months (years for the latter) over who would prevail.
When they finally met in the ring, the debate was over.
Both winners had been favored, one less than the other, but not many could foresee the dominance and brilliance the victors had shown.
The results had been definitive.
Naoya Inoue, fittingly nicknamed “The Monster,” overwhelmed Stephen Fulton. The struggle over who would win was over quickly. Inoue was faster, sharper, and deadly accurate. Fulton looked confused and unsure, like a person in a shadowy room.
Fulton had never lost a professional fight. He had earned two world titles in a short amount of time. Fulton had shown grit when needed. He was confident days before the fight.
“I believe in my mindset,” said Fulton. I believe in my abilities. There’s nothing I can’t out-think.”
Think again. Hard to outsmart superior talent.
Fulton tried. His specialty is distance control. He stayed on the outside but got beat to the punch. A boxer isn’t familiar with that. He upped his aggressiveness. Not good. Inoue brought his power up with him. His shots are straight and very hard. Fulton grew tentative.
Inoue could see what was happening. He bounced and popped like a tiny piece of dynamite.
He exploded in round eight – flattening Fulton with a right and left. Fulton got up on unsteady legs. Inoue swarmed, and a few seconds later, Fulton sank. The fight was over.
“I’m very happy to become the super bantamweight champion,” Inoue said. “I truly appreciate your supports and contributions to this great event.”
Terence “Bud” Crawford is mean. And without question, a great fighter. He dismantled Errol “The Truth” Spence, who hadn’t lost a fight in 13 years, systematically.
Several boxing people had doubted Crawford’s greatness. He fed off the negativity.
Crawford’s been proving people wrong since turning professional in 2007. He won his first title by traveling to Glasgow and whipping Ricky Burns six years later.
Unified the junior welterweights by knocking out Julius Indongo four years later. Crawford moved up to welterweight and crushed Jeff Horn, even though his promoter, Bob Arum, complained, “I could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I lost on him in the last three fights.”
Crawford knocked out 10 opponents in succession before facing Spence in Sin City. “The Truth” looked bigger and stronger. Crawford looked primed and ready.
The truth hurts.
Crawford lost the first round on two of the three judges’ scorecards. Standard operating procedure for “Bud.” He took over in round two, flooring Spence.
“I felt as if he couldn’t handle my power like I could handle his,” Crawford said. “I remember him throwing an overhand looping left, and he caught me right on the button and I was just like, ‘This is it? Okay.”
Okay is right. For the next eight rounds, Spence was sharp, while Spence was searching. Like Fulton, he kept trying. But Crawford was cool and collected, the professional assassin with prior knowledge of his opponent’s movements. Spence was shocked and bewildered.
Crawford’s ability had blindsided the quiet Texan. Spence had never come close to losing a pro fight. His victories had been examples of technique and consistent pressure. The title belts had been his since 2017.
Then along came Terence “Bud” Crawford – the fighter with something to prove.
“It means everything because of who I took the belts from,” Crawford said. “They talked bad about me. They said I wasn’t good enough and I couldn’t beat these welterweights. Tonight, I believe I showed how great I am.”
If you enjoy hearing from the legends of pro sports, then be sure to tune into “The Grueling Truth” sports shows, “Where the legends speak”
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