Sunday, July 30, 2023

Opinions and Observations: Spence-Crawford

It was early in the seventh round when I knew that the fight was over. Errol Spence landed a thunderous overhand left, the type of untraditional shot that could cause real damage, and yet it was he who hit the canvas immediately after throwing the punch. Before Spence's shot even landed, Terence Crawford had connected with a perfectly placed counter right uppercut. Spence's shot was eye-catching, but had no lasting impact; Crawford's was destructive and demoralizing. I thought to myself, well, that's a wrap. 


If Spence could land his hardest punch, and one that had an element of surprise to it, and yet he suffered because of it, there was little else he could do. Crawford was still opening his bag of tricks as late as the seventh round and despite Spence's attempt at subterfuge, Crawford pounced on this opportunity with a master's eye and execution. He saw the opening and uncorked a wicked counter. He was too sharp, too prepared and hit too hard for Spence. 

Crawford (right) with Spence out of position
Photo courtesy of Ryan Hafey

The theme of Spence-Crawford emerged as early as the second round. Spence would stalk Crawford with pressure, land good shots, but couldn't take what was coming back at him. Crawford exploited holes in Spence's defense. Spence would lunge to get his shots home, he didn't return his hands to a defensively responsible position fast enough, and his feet were often tangled. At the end of the second round Spence landed a lead shot, but Crawford countered with a straight left and then a ramrod right jab to send Spence to the canvas for the first time in his career. This pattern of Spence's good lead work negated and bettered by Crawford's sharper counters manifested throughout the fight. 


It was Crawford's counter jab more than any other punch that was the clear separator in the fight. Spence couldn't get out of the way of the jab and it consistently shook him up. Crawford spoke after the fight how he and his team practiced a hard counter jab specifically for Spence and that preparation paid off emphatically in the ring. Spence couldn't handle the punch. The combination of its speed, power and accuracy was too much for him.


Crawford knocked down Spence three times and with a different punch for each one: right jab, right uppercut, and right hook. It always impresses me when a fighter can drop guys with multiple punches in a bout. This is a sign of a fighter firing on all cylinders, one who has varied weapons, can see openings, and is executing at a high level. Crawford's right hook has been his bread-and-butter throughout his career, but he didn't even score a knockdown with the shot until the fight was essentially over (the bout was officially stopped by the referee in the ninth round). Crawford was that sharp that he didn't even need to rely on his best punch to dominate an elite fighter. 


Spence never stopped trying and again he landed good stuff in the fight, but his power failed to do enough damage. He got home with a number of left hands to the head and hard hooks with both hands to the body. However, Crawford proved to be the sharper puncher, the stronger man, and the one with far superior punch resistance.


Saturday was only Spence's second fight in over two-and-a-half years. His reflexes looked off. He didn't have the same sturdy base in his legs that had allowed him to take big shots in the past. These are not excuses for his performance; they in part contributed to it. Spence had several traumatic episodes out of the ring with car accidents and eye issues and although he had performed very well in his last fight against Yordenis Ugas, another long layoff didn't serve him well on Saturday. He looked as if he hadn't had a lot of reps. His hand positioning was a mess on defense. He was overshooting punches in a way that was uncustomary for him. His legs were brittle. 


There are of course two people in the ring; Crawford was the one who exposed these issues. It was only because Crawford's counters were so hard and accurate that it became easy to see how Spence couldn't defend himself properly. It's because Crawford's offensive weapons were so sharp and numerous that Spence's scrambled footwork was exploited. Maybe Spence could have beaten other top welterweights on Saturday, but he wasn't anywhere close to Crawford's level. He was outgunned in every facet. 

Crawford celebrating after the victory
Photo courtesy of Esther Lin/Showtime

With the win, Crawford has now become an undisputed champion in his second weight class, a tremendous achievement and one that stamps him as a historically great fighter. But more than the wins, the manner of his performances speaks to his sublime skill level. He's now 35, in his third weight class, and has yet to lose a single scorecard. Whenever his fights have been competitive in the early rounds, he has ended them with knockouts. There are no coin-flip victories on his ledger or debatable decisions. He has left no doubts. 


Spence-Crawford resolved the welterweight discussion of this era. There is no more debate. But more than that, it provided the opportunity for one great fighter to rise above another great one. And it gave fans a chance to witness excellence, something magnificent for their era (not their grandfathers'), something that will further bind them to the sport. 

If Crawford is able to accomplish anything else noteworthy in his career, I would consider that gravy. I've already seen enough to comprehend his greatness. I know how special he is and the breadth of his accomplishments speak for themselves. His win on Saturday was one of the most impressive performances I have witnessed in my years following the sport, one that will stick with me. It was my privilege to watch him operate at that rarefied level on Saturday. 


"Kids, if you want to see a masterpiece, pull up that Spence-Crawford fight from 2023. Watch greatness in action. That's who Terence Crawford was. And that's why we still talk about him today."

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 

snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook. 

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Spence-Crawford: Preview and Prediction

It's finally here after years in the making – the fight for the whole enchilada at welterweight between Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22 KOs) and Terence Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs). The two undefeated champions will fight for undisputed status and the best of the era at 147 lbs. on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.  

The background politics as to why the fight didn't happen sooner has been spelled out over countless, "breathless" articles, but there are a few things in the delay that are worth noting. One, Spence has had to overcome two car crashes and a detached retina. Additionally, both fighters are now removed from their physical primes, with Spence at 33 and Crawford at 35. Although both are still elite talents, it's safe to assume that neither is at his athletic best – more on this later.  

Spence enters Saturday's fight coming off a 17-month layoff. And although he looked excellent in his last outing against Yordenis Ugas, such a long time out of the ring is rarely beneficial.  

Spence (left) and Crawford at their introductory presser
Photo courtesy of Amanda Westcott/Showtime

Below will be my keys to the fight. I'll have a prediction at the end of the article.  

1. The punch volume gap 

Spence is a more active fighter than Crawford in the ring. It's typical for Spence to throw 50+ or even 60+ punches a round while Crawford is more often in the 30s. If Spence can maintain this edge throughout the fight, it would be a huge advantage for him in piling up points on the scorecards.  

At welterweight Crawford has been a knockout artist, stopping everyone he has fought. He often gives up early rounds while he takes a look at his opponents. And this has happened whether it was against Shawn Porter, Mean Machine Kavaliauskas, Jose Benavidez or Kell Brook.  

If Spence fights to his strengths and Crawford takes his customary time in studying an opponent, it's likely that Spence will be ahead going into the middle of the fight, which could help Spence significantly down the stretch. With an early lead, he can afford to take fewer risks, because much of his work has already been accomplished. 

It would certainly behoove Crawford not to fall behind too far early in the fight. Yes, he has stopped everyone so far at 147, but what if he doesn't? He certainly went the distance several times earlier in his career. Spence is not the fighter to play catchup against in an attempt to win on the scorecards.  

2. Both have better offense than defense 

There was a time, a number of years ago, when Crawford in the southpaw stance had terrific defense. It used to be that when he was orthodox, he was more offensively oriented and when he was southpaw, he was more defensively responsible. But even that distinction has evaporated. In the last few years his defensive reflexes have declined. Crawford now gets hit quite a bit and it doesn't seem to matter the type of opponent. He got hit hard from Mean Machine from distance whereas Porter had lots of early success against him at mid-range and closer. Although Crawford's chin has been solid over his career, he's been wobbled against Gamboa and Mean Machine. He can be vulnerable to a big shot. 

Spence also can be hit, especially from range. Porter, with his unpredictable punching patterns, landed plenty on him. Danny Garcia detonated a number of big right hands on him from distance. Ugas temporarily stunned Spence with a right hand.  

Ultimately, this fight may come down to chins more than any other factor, because both will get hit with quality shots. Spence will work Crawford up and down with volume and Crawford will try to be at his sharpshooting best. Who can take the other guy's best will be vital in determining the winner.  

3. Hot vs. Cold 

The demeanor of each fighter in the ring I believe will play a pivotal role. I think that Spence has a more relaxed style in the ring, fighting within himself and not trying to force things (the Porter fight was a glaring exception though). Spence knows when to take his foot on and off the gas and paces fights very well.  

Crawford to me is more hot-tempered. When he gets hit hard, he immediately wants to get it back. When he senses an opponent may be hurt, he will go all out for the stoppage. Crawford will swing for the fences when he senses blood in the water, but he does leave himself open for a guy who can remain calm under pressure. There is a degree of recklessness when Crawford closes a fight. It makes for tremendous theater. To this point Crawford has been in the lion's den without too much suffering, but Yuriorkis Gamboa had Crawford in bad shape and staggered under this very circumstance. Now that was a long time ago, but I still think that Crawford can be vulnerable when he believes that he has the upper hand.  

Photo courtesy of Amanda Westcott/Showtime

4. Crawford the closer 

Crawford's fights often turn on a dime. Whether it was the Porter fight or the Brook bout, an opponent is doing well against Crawford...until he isn't. And then suddenly it's over. Crawford in my opinion is the best closer in the sport. His ability to throw multiple knockout weapons from either stance is unmatched. In particular, his right hook out of the southpaw stance is one of the best punches in boxing. For whatever reason, very few opponents have been able to avoid that punch on a consistent basis. Part of the reason is he can throw it in different ways. He can use it as a check right hook, he can arc it with a higher trajectory, he can take it downstairs, he can widen it. However he throws it, he has a preternatural ability to land it.  

With the exception of the Ugas fight, where it was clear that Spence got stung by a right hand, Errol usually has a great poker face after getting hit with a big shot. However, Crawford has a sixth sense when an opponent is ready to go. Spence won't have the ability to back away or reset on the outside after taking a big punch because Crawford will be on him. 

Hopefully Spence understands the importance of tying up and buying time. If he's hurt and decides to trade with Crawford, I wouldn't like his chances on a consistent basis. Yes, there are opportunities to hit Crawford when he rushes in, and if Spence has a clear head he should take them, but making it to the next round will be even more important.  

5. The body 

Each guy can reduce the effectiveness of the other by going downstairs to the body with big shots. By going to the body early, Crawford could sap Spence's willingness to take the fight on the inside, where he would like to use his close-range fighting skills to wear Crawford down. For Spence, one way to reduce Crawford's effectiveness in the later rounds is to deplete him early with body shots. Thus, when Crawford inevitably lands something hard, he might not have the same agility level to follow up at maximum capacity.  

Going to the body for both will be a risky gambit because each can counter effectively. Crawford can skirt out of the way and counter with a hard hook. Spence will meet a lunging opponent with a mean left uppercut or a straight left to the body. But both fighters must take their chances going downstairs. It will help thwart the other's game plan.  


In my mind this fight has two overriding factors in determining who wins:

1. Spence has a structural advantage in winning rounds.

2. Can Spence stay on his feet?

Crawford has played a dangerous game at welterweight of losing rounds early only to make it up in the second half of the fight with a knockout. But not everyone gets knocked out. And if Spence can't be put down for good, can Crawford do enough to win seven rounds on the scorecards? If he's down three or four rounds, can he make it back on the cards? I have my doubts.  

But, and this is a big but, Spence will have to stay on his feet to win, a feat that no welterweight has accomplished against Crawford. And again, it's not as if Spence is some kind of defensive marvel. To win the fight, Spence will need to build a lead and respect Crawford's power. So, if he's hurt, he should do whatever it takes to stay in the fight, not necessarily win that particular round. Spence's trainer, Derrick James, will be vital in the corner in providing Spence with the right instructions during moments of duress.  

I have no doubt that Crawford is going to land some vicious shots in the second half of the fight. Spence will need to show his survival skills and be able to recuperate. If he understands what he's up against, he could hold his way out of some scary moments, but if he does get caught up in a battle of machismo, he will get knocked out.  

Since I am forcing myself to make a prediction, I like Spence to win the fight based on his ability to win rounds and that he has a great trainer to help settle him when things get rough. But Derrick James will only matter if Spence can get back to the corner. Spence is going to have to survive for 30- or 45-second intervals of intense duress. If he can do that, I think that he will have put enough rounds in the bank to win by a decision. 

Let's call it eight rounds to four for Spence in a fight where he might have to get off the canvas, or even survive a 10-8 round where he doesn't go down. Ultimately, I think that Crawford's inability to match Spence's output early in the fight will be his undoing on the cards. Crawford will remain dangerous to the final bell and he will always be a threat to score a knockout, but I think on Saturday it will finally catch up to him that he gave up too many early rounds. We shall see. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Opinions and Observations: Fulton-Inoue

The great ones have that X-Factor. There's something in the combination of their set-up, their skills, their reflexes, and their command of the ring whereby a capable opponent becomes mesmerized almost instantly by what's in front of him. Whether it was Kelly Pavlik or Antonio Tarver against Bernard Hopkins, Saul Alvarez against Floyd Mayweather or on Tuesday with Stephen Fulton against Naoya Inoue, these opponents become rendered ineffective only moments after the opening bell; they are spectators in their own fights.  

For whatever advantages Fulton had over Inoue – his size, his experience at 122 pounds, his athleticism – they were mooted by the end of the first round. Fulton was so disoriented by Inoue's collection of skills that he spent most of the fight in mid-range, an area of the ring where he didn't want to be, trying to counter against a guy with more power and offensive weapons in the pocket. Fulton offered little movement. He spent very few moments of the fight on the inside. He stood there, watched Inoue operate, and ate a lot of punches.  

Inoue lands a straight right
Photo courtesy of Naoki Fukuda

Not a knockout puncher, Fulton was trying to land one big shot to turn the tide, as if he was Deontay Wilder. It was a baffling decision; Inoue was so effective that he essentially made Fulton an accomplice in his own demise.  

I think what did Fulton in at the outset of the fight was the combination of Inoue's hand speed and the effectiveness of his jab. There are fighters who don't look as impressive on tape as they do in the ring. And for all of Inoue's highlight reel knockouts, what had gotten lost in the shuffle was his elite boxing skills. He's far more than just a big right hand or a menacing left hook. He has a rock-solid boxing foundation to go along with his devastating power. And too many in the sport have focused on the latter at the expense of the former.  

Inoue started the fight as a boxer. He didn't sell out for the early knockout. He stayed behind his jab and used his expert ability to cut off the ring to keep Fulton in punching range. Fulton, an excellent jabber himself, was continually beaten to the punch and it quickly became obvious that he had scrapped his initial plan to win the fight. He was in with an entirely different beast than what he had prepared for. 

What impressed me the most about Inoue's performance, and there were myriad aspects worthy of praise, was his commitment to the body throughout the fight and how that ultimately set up the initial knockdown in the eighth round. Inoue consistently threw single stab jabs to the body. These punches had a cumulative effect over time. And in the eighth, he threw that jab again to the body, which forced Fulton to lower his hands so much that Inoue had a free shot with his straight right. And he didn't miss. Fulton was staggered by the punch, losing his balance with his gloves almost touching the canvas. Inoue then jumped in with a pulverizing hybrid left hook/uppercut that sent Fulton down. 

That left hand was an improvisational move that the greats can pull off. It's not a punch that's practiced, but Inoue recognized the opportunity and had the athletic dexterity, gracefulness with his feet and menace in his punch to connect with the shot and essentially end the fight. Fulton did beat the count, but Inoue rushed in with a frenzy of power punches immediately after the fight resumed. The ref stopped the bout as Fulton hit the canvas for a second time. 

Inoue's performance checked off all the boxes. He made an excellent fighter look ordinary. He showed a mastery of all phases of the sport. He boxed, he defended, he cut off the ring, he set up shots, he neutralized, he blasted with a combination, and he closed. 

Inoue with his new belts post-fight
Photo courtesy of Naoki Fukuda

For those who have followed boxing closely over the last decade, Inoue has not been a secret. He won belts at junior flyweight, junior bantamweight, became undisputed at bantamweight and now has moved up to claim two more belts at junior featherweight. He's fought in America before on HBO and ESPN. He won the World Boxing Super Series. 

But what was missing in Inoue's Hall of Fame resume was an American fighter who was in his prime. And let's not pretend otherwise that more than a few American boxing fans are protective of their country's place in the sport. Despite Japan placing in the top-four countries of all time in world champions (the U.S., Mexico and the U.K. are the other three), there still exists a disbelief, an incredulity regarding the outsider. It's ultimately a snobbery. And while America doesn't have the same type of nationalism regarding its boxing that other countries do, let's also acknowledge that there's a feeling, even among many involved in the sport, that a foreign fighter has to prove himself in the gyms of Los Angeles, Las Vegas or Philadelphia to be considered a legitimate threat on the world level. 

Fulton provided Inoue with the perfect opportunity to showcase his pedigree. Fulton, from Philadelphia, entered Tuesday as an unbeaten, unified world champion at 122-lbs. and had displayed an impressive collection of boxing skills that many, including this writer, thought could pose problems for The Monster. But Inoue was able to separate himself from an otherwise excellent fighter, and did so in such a manner that observers were left wondering if there is any current fighter near Inoue's current weight class who could actually have a chance of beating him. 

Inoue's performance on Tuesday was enough to forever silence any remaining doubts of his skill level or pedigree. He has now become the top man in four divisions. And as he has moved up in weight, he has become even more lethal. Only one of his last 15 fights has gone the distance. And even then, he was able to drop Nonito Donaire and stop him in their rematch. 

We are witnessing a generational talent, a fighter 18-0 in world title fights spanning four divisions, who has yet to lose even one scorecard in his professional career. He defines greatness in the ring. One gets the sense that Inoue is no longer aiming for supremacy among his peers in the sport, but instead trying to fight for his place in history against the very best. This is now the Naoya Inoue conversation: a measurement against the all-time greats. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Fulton-Inoue Preview for the Ring

I previewed Tuesday's mouth-watering junior bantamweight title clash between Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue for Ring Magazine. You can read the article using the link below. This should be a great fight. 

Click here to read

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook. 

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Ortiz-Stanionis Postponed

For the third time, Ortiz-Stanionis has been postponed. Once again, Vergil Ortiz had to be hospitalized. There was no further announcement from Golden Boy at this time if and when the fight would be rescheduled. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook. 

Ortiz-Stanionis: Preview and Prediction Article

I wrote a preview and prediction article for Saturday's Vergil Ortiz-Eimantas Stanionis welterweight clash for Ring Magazine. Click here to read the article. I'm expecting a compelling fight. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.