Terence Crawford KOs Julius Indongo in three rounds to become undisputed champion

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Terence “Bud” Crawford celebrates his third-round knockout victory of Julius Indongo Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., that made him the undisputed super lightweight champion. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Six months after blowing out an Olympic gold medalist like he was a journeyman, Crawford was at it again on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., in a battle for the undisputed super lightweight bout.

Crawford outclassed Julius Indongo, who brought the IBF and WBA belts with him, and scored a vicious knockout at the 1:38 mark of the third round to become boxing’s first undisputed champion since Jermain Taylor in 2005.

The fight continued what has been a recent boxing renaissance, with a number of brilliant young fighters and outstanding veterans who have combined to make 2017 one of its best years in recent memory. Guys like heavyweight Anthony Joshua, welterweight Errol Spence Jr., super featherweight Vasyl Lomachenko and light heavyweight Andre Ward have all put on electrifying performances this year.

The good news is that the middleweight title bout between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez is still to come, on Sept. 16 in Las Vegas. It’s been a bounty of riches this year for boxing fans.

And Terence Crawford is a large part of that.

Crawford, now 32-0 with 23 knockouts, landed a crushing left to the body and followed it with a right to the solar plexus, knocking the Namibian-native down and out to become the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO super lightweight champion.

“Oh, man, we’ve been practicing our body shots all camp,” Crawford said in the ring after his one-sided demolition of Indongo. “It’s been a rough, tough camp and everything we worked on today in camp came out in the fight.”

Crawford and trainer Brian McIntyre noticed when studying Indongo that he threw wide shots, so they devised a plan to throw straight shots to the body. He dropped Indongo in the second with a left to the head and a right to the body, and that was a portent of what was to come.

He came up big in front of a sold-out crowd of 12,121 to make his case as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Ward, who called the fight for ESPN, Lomachenko, Alvarez, Golovkin and Spence all had great efforts earlier this year to put themselves in that same conversation. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez lost in March, but he also deserves to be part of the conversation.

It’s hard to pick from them because it’s a bumper crop of greatness at the top of the sport, but Crawford doesn’t have to take a backseat to anyone.

“It feels great, man, like a dream come true,” Crawford said. ” … I’m the only one who can be labeled as a champion at 140 and that’s a big deal to me.”

Being No. 1 is also a big deal to him and he thinks he made his point.

“Andre Ward is one of my favorite fighters, but I think I have to top him with this one,” Crawford said.

There are many legitimate contenders for No. 1, and many of them are young and will be around for a while. That’s a tremendous sign for boxing.

A super fight down the road at welterweight between Crawford and Spence is starting to bubble and could be a massive event with the proper build-up.

But for all the other great fighters who surround him, one thing is clear: Crawford is as good as they get in boxing today.

Referee Jack Reiss counts out Julius Indongo, who was knocked out by Terence Crawford Saturday in the third round of the IBF-WBA-WBC-WBO super lightweight unification bout. (The Associated Press)