In my 45 years of following boxing, Terence Crawford is as complete a fighter as I have seen. He’s an incredible counterpuncher, a sublime defensive fighter and is the single greatest switch hitter in his incomparable way of shifting from orthodox to southpaw style in an instance. Since he first debuted on HBO eight years ago with his sizzling victory over Breidis Prescott, Crawford has been one of the five greatest fighters of this current time period. Overall, he’s the 41st greatest fighter of the last 45 years.
On March 1, 2014, Crawford traveled to Glasgow, Scotland to fight for the WBO lightweight title held by the then undefeated Scotsman Ricky Burns. Despite fighting in front of a raucous crowd rooting heavily for their countryman, Crawford outboxed and outfoxed Burns the entire bout to win a 12-round unanimous decision to win his first world championship. Do you know how dominant a fighter had to be to win an unanimous decision against a Scottish fighter in Scotland? That’s how great Crawford looked that night when he wrested the title from Burns.
Crawford followed up his title win by making his first defense in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska against then undefeated Cuban star Yuriokis Gamboa on June 28, 2014 in front of 11,000 people. Although Crawford knocked down Gamboa four times before referee Genaro Rodriguez stopped the fight in the ninth round, Gamboa gave Crawford the toughest fight of his career. Gamboa outboxed Crawford throughout the first three rounds before Crawford switched to a southpaw stance beginning in round four. From that moment on, Crawford dominated the fight before finishing off the Cuban sensation. Gamboa was never the same after suffering the beating administered by Crawford. Crawford closed out 2014 by handily beating Mexican warrior Ray Beltran in a 12-round shutout to claim his first Ring Magazine world title. Feeling that he had nothing left to accomplish at 135 pounds, Crawford began 2015 by moving up to the 140 pound division.
A year after winning the WBO Lightweight Title, Crawford moved up to the 140-pound division on April 18, 2015 to fight for the vacant WBO title. In what has become a staple of his championship fights, Crawford put on a virtuoso performance, stopping Thomas Dulorme in the sixth round to win the title. This was the beginning of a two-year reign that saw the division’s most dominant champion since the early 1980s reign of Aaron Pryor.
After two successful defenses, Crawford took on Viktor Postol for the unification of the WBC and WBO titles. Postol was supposed to be Crawford’s stiffest test, as he was considered by many boxing experts as the class of the division. On July 23, 2016 Crawford put on a dazzling display of boxing. Crawford had Postol dizzy the entire night as Postol was unable to utilize his incredible left jab once Crawford turned southpaw in the second round. Crawford’s side-to-side movement and his counters over Postol’s jab were too much for his opponent to overcome. All Postol could do was survive the 12-round distance as he was totally outclassed. Another virtuoso performance by the Omaha, Nebraska native. The only thing left to accomplish at 140 was to unify all the belts.
After two more successful defenses of his titles, the WBC, WBO and Ring Magazine Super Lightweight Champion Crawford faced WBA and IBF Champion Julius Indongo to attempt to become the first undisputed 140-pound champion in almost 15 years on August 19, 2017. Indongo was considered a dangerous opponent for Crawford as the Namibian was a powerful puncher with a southpaw style. From the opening round, Crawford fought as a southpaw, which totally confused the much taller Indongo. In the second round, he dropped Indongo with a vicious right to the body. Then, in the third round, Crawford became the Undisputed Super Lightweight Champion of the World with a spectacular left hook to Indongo’s stomach that left him drowning on the canvas. After cleaning out the 140-pound division, the next step for Crawford was to move up and invade the single most talented division historically in boxing; the 147-pound division.
On June 9, 2018, Crawford completely dominated the Aussie Jeff Horn before referee Robert Byrd mercifully stopped the fight to win the WBO welterweight title in round nine. Since then, Crawford has successfully defended his title four times against less than stellar opposition. In order for Crawford to gain traction on my list, he must face and defeat Errol Spence, the other great welterweight of his generation. Until they face each other, Crawford is stuck at number 41 and Spence is on the outside looking in as far as being a member of the 45 greatest fighters of the last 45 years. One of the biggest crimes in boxing history will occur if these men never face each other as they are two undefeated fighters with as complete of games as we will ever get to see in a boxing ring.