THE last seven days saw two boxers, Terence Crawford and Naoya Inoue, exhibit their special talents on the highest stages of their respective careers thus far. So good were each in their respective demolitions of Errol Spence and Stephen Fulton, the only question that remains unanswered is: Who out of the two of them can claim to be the best in the sport?
Crawford is special for a variety of reasons, one of the most obvious being his power. He is also so successful because of his special ability to relax in the ring, which is very similar to James Toney and Floyd Mayweather, two masterful technicians who came before him. Crawford’s vision and ability to see openings in the middle of the action, and then capitalise on them, well, it’s almost like he has a built-in radar. His counter punching is on par with the great Donald Curry in his prime and makes him dangerous against any opposition.
Naoya, meanwhile, is a very special fighter, in part because of his calculated viciousness and a top tier body attack. He has a killer instinct that is a sight to behold when he gets someone hurt and the smell of blood enters his nostrils. It’s like he is striving to be the best finisher in the game. And it’s that ability to end a fight, along with his ring intelligence, that make him one of the most TV-friendly guys out there today. Perhaps the highest compliment to pay Inoue is how appreciated he is by people who really know the sport.
All fighters have certain weaknesses, even high-level guys like Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali and Roy Jones, but the difference, in terms of what makes them extra special, is that any weaknesses are so slight that it becomes very difficult to find anyone with the ability to actually take advantage of them. At this point, in regards to both Crawford and Inoue, it seems that any weaknesses simply couldn’t be exploited by anyone else in the world today. Their strengths are so vast it makes their weaknesses almost inconsequential. I don’t ever like to say any boxer is unbeatable, because anything can happen in a boxing ring, but, at this point, I don’t see anyone in their respective weight classes who could logically be favoured over them.
While both performances were super impressive, I was particularly awed by Terence because he was in with a guy who many thought would defeat him. I was with a large group of boxers and trainers watching the fight together and the group was split down the middle as to who they thought was going to win. It was just that kind of matchup. Terence was not only able to dominate the fight against a high-level opponent, but he was also able to do what the greats generally do and close the show when the opportunity arose.
There will be debate as to who is the better fighter. As for me, there are so many intangibles that go into deciding who is actually the better between great or potentially great boxers. Both of these modern-day champions have so many tools and provide a special level of excitement, but I think Crawford deserves the top spot because he has beaten a higher level of competition and his recent victory over Spence was, and I don’t say the following lightly, one of the greatest big fight performances of all-time. Thanks to that victory and the manner in which he achieved it, I would have to personally place Terence Crawford as the very best in the sport.