LAS VEGAS — Terence Crawford’s first fight as a welterweight wasn’t much different than his previous fights as a junior welterweight and his fights before that as a lightweight.
He entered the ring, dominated and walked away with a victory and a championship belt wrapped around his waist.
After unifying the titles in the junior welterweight division last year, Crawford was looking for a new challenge that simply was not available to him as a light welterweight. On Saturday, in his welterweight debut, he picked up where left off, with a dominating victory over Jeff Horn to win the WBO welterweight championship.
It was, as Crawford called it, “The start of the takeover.”
The first step in Crawford’s takeover of the welterweight division was moving up in weight and claiming the WBO title. He became just the sixth fighter in boxing history to win titles at lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight, joining Adrien Broner, Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, Pernell Whitaker and Barney Ross.
Two of the best American boxers and two of the top four pound-for-pound fighters in ESPN’s pound-for-pound rankings are Crawford (3) and Errol Spence Jr. (4), who is the IBF welterweight champion. Spence will face Carlos Ocampo next week in Texas. If Spence wins that fight and retains his title, the clamoring for a dream welterweight matchup between Crawford and Spence will grow. The question is, can Al Haymon, who manages Spence, and Bob Arum, who manages Crawford, get together and make the dream a reality.
“I just think businesswise it has to make sense,” Crawford said. “Al isn’t going to send his fighters to ESPN if it doesn’t make sense, and Bob isn’t going to send me to Showtime if it doesn’t make sense. If the fight makes sense, the fight will happen. I’ve already fought two Al Haymon fighters, so I don’t think that will stop a fight from getting done. … It’s boxing, so anything can happen. A lot people are leaning towards me and Errol Spence, but we never know what tomorrow holds.”
Arum, who said Crawford would likely fight again in October, would like to see Crawford get the big fights that he wants in the welterweight division but couldn’t help but grin at the fact that he has arguably the top two pound-for-pound fighters under the Top Rank umbrella in Crawford and WBA lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“Spence is an excellent fighter, but I only saw him with one great performance with Kell Brook,” Arum said. “Maybe Spence can be at [Crawford’s] level. I’m not saying that he can’t, but he has to demonstrate that. Crawford and Lomachenko are like 1 and 1A in the ring. They are tremendous but different. Crawford reminds me of the great ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard in his prime, and Lomachenko is like somebody I’ve never seen before.”
Immediately after Crawford beat Horn, Spence took to Twitter just to let everyone know he was watching the fight. Crawford would like to fight Spence but spoke more in generalities about his next opponent, with Spence fighting Ocampo on June 16.
— Errol Spence (@ErrolSpenceJr) June 10, 2018
“I would do well with him,” Crawford said of facing Spence. “I believe I would do well with any welterweight in the division. Right now we’re going to go home and enjoy this. We’ve been out of the ring for a long time. We’re just happy to be back in the ring, and we’re going to make up a plan and see where we go, but I assure you that we’re looking for the biggest fights out there.”
After the fight, Crawford walked through the corridors of MGM Grand Garden Arena surrounded by his family with a big smile on his face.
“I’m happier, I got more energy, and I’m excited to fight in a new division,” Crawford said. “I wouldn’t say I was getting bored at 140, but it was getting kind of dull, and now you got all these fighters at 147 that have names for themselves, and that makes for an exciting division. It’s just better for my career that I moved up. There’s a lot of great names in welterweight, and there’s a lot of opportunities at welterweight.”
Welterweight has historically been boxing’s glamour division, with the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, Leonard, Mayweather, Thomas Hearns, Manny Pacquiao and others producing superfights such as Leonard-Hearns and Mayweather-Pacquiao. Crawford now wants to add his name to that list of fighters and find an opponent who will produce the sport’s next superfight.
“I want the other champions,” Crawford said. “I want the big fights. I’m a big force in the welterweight division and coming for all of them.”