Crawford unifies welterweight division with 9th-round TKO over Spence

Terence Crawford knocked down Errol Spence Jr. three times Saturday night before finally ending the fight at 2:32 of the ninth round on a technical knockout to cement himself as one of the greatest welterweights in history.

The fight, the most-anticipated boxing match in several years, unified the division for the first time in the four-belt era that began in 2004.

Crawford (40-0, 31 knockouts) already owned the WBO belt, and took the WBC, WBA and IBF titles from Spence (28-1). Crawford also ran his KO streak to 11 matches, the second-longest active stretch.

Crawford, 35, has won titles in super lightweight and lightweight in addition to welterweight, capturing the latter after moving up in 2018. The Omaha, Nebraska, fighter became the first male boxer to become the undisputed champion in two divisions.

A big fight night on the Strip still brings out the stars, with recording artists Cardi B and Andre 3000 of Outkast, actor and Las Vegas resident Mark Walhberg, NBA star Damian Lillard and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at T-Mobile Arena. They were among the celebrities that also included former boxing champions such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

Eminem introduced Crawford and his song “Lose Yourself” played as he walked into the ring.

Spence was the aggressor early on, but Crawford sent him to the floor with a right hand with 20 seconds left in the second round. Then Crawford went after Spence, but time ran out before he could finish him off.

Crawford, a minus-154 favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, then took control of the fight, landing several major blows, often on counters. But Crawford also picked his spots to go after Spence, his punching power taking a heavy toll.

In the seventh round, Crawford knocked down Spence twice — with a short right at 1:02 and with another right with just a second left.

The 33-year-old Spence who lives in DeSoto, Texas, won the IBF title in 2017, claimed the WBC championship in 2019 and took the WBA championship last year.

In the co-main event, Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz (25-2-1) of Mexico beat Chicago resident Giovanni Cabrera (21-1) by split decision in a WBC and WBA lightweight match. Judges Benoit Roussel (114-113) and Don Trella (115-112) scored the fight in favor of Cruz, and Glenn Feldman gave Cabrera the fight by a 114-113 score. Cruz had a point deducted because of a head butt.

Also, Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5) of Mexico won the vacant WBC bantamweight title with a 115-113, 116-112, 116-12 decision over Nonito Donaire (42-8), who lives in Las Vegas.

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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