Terence Crawford’s vicious right to the body midway through the third round put Julius Indongo on the canvas for the second time Saturday night, and this time Indongo was not getting up.
Referee Jack Reiss called the champion from Namibia out at 1:38 of the third round, and Crawford, in front of a sold-out home crowd in Lincoln, Neb., and an ESPN-TV audience, remained undefeated, and more important, became boxing’s first undisputed champion in any weight class in a dozen years.
In this case, it is the super lightweight (140-pound) class.
Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) needed less than eight minutes to prove that he might now be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, looking much quicker and far more skilled than Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs), who was unknown a year ago before his stunning first-round knockout of Eduard Troyanovsky in Moscow last December.
But on Saturday, he was no match for Crawford, who landed 59% of his power punches against the slower and less polished Indongo. Crawford switched stances effortlessly during the fight, going from southpaw to orthodox whenever he felt the need.
“It feels great, like a dream come true,” the 29-year-old Crawford, the Pride of Omaha, said. “I want to thank everyone who came out. I want to thank Nebraska, America, I did this for all of us.”
Crawford is the first undisputed champion in the four-belt era since Jermain Taylor in 2005. Taylor took all four of the major middleweight belts from Bernard Hopkins, who had become undisputed champion earlier in 2005 with his victory against Oscar De La Hoya, now his business partner.
“Belts matter,” Crawford said. “I’m the only one who can be labeled as champion at 140 (pounds) and that’s a big deal to me.”
Crawford barely broke a sweat in taking it to Indongo from the opening bell. He knocked Indongo down in the second round before finishing the show a round later.
“We’ve been practicing on body shots all camp and everything we worked on in camp came out in the fight,” he said. “I feel like I didn’t even fight,” he said.
Crawford said he can make a case to be No. 1 pound-for-pound in the world, a position now held by Andre Ward, who was doing the ringside analysis for ESPN.
Andre Ward is one of my favorite fighters, but I have to top him on this one,” Crawford said with a smile.
Asked what’s next, Crawford said, “I’m going fishing next, then I’m going to rest up with my family, and then my coaches and my managers are going to see what’s next for me.”