Naoya Inoue made this somewhat more complicated than it should’ve been.
The Japanese “Monster” turned in the performance of his career on July 25 in Tokyo, overwhelming previously unbeaten Stephen Fulton before stopping him in the eighth round to become a four-division champion. His greatness was obvious.
Then, four days later, Terence Crawford outdid Inoue, dropping Errol Spence Jr. three times en route to knocking him out in nine rounds in Las Vegas to become the first welterweight to win all the major titles and first man to become “undisputed” in a second division in the four-belt era.
👀🔊 Así se vio y oyó desde ringside el KO 💣💥 de Terence Crawford a Errol Spence Jr
— ESPN KnockOut (@ESPNKnockOut) July 31, 2023
He also delivered a victory that everyone agrees was defining, bolstering the notion that he’s the best fighter in the world.
Why was Crawford’s performance superior to Inoue’s? The competition.
Fulton is an excellent, seasoned boxer who was an Honorable Mention on Boxing Junkie’s pound-for-pound list going into the fight. Spence is better and much more accomplished than Fulton, who is a relatively light puncher. Spence was No. 4 on the list and might’ve ended up on top had he taken down No. 1 Crawford.
Inoue’s victory was good enough to be a Performance of the Year in some years. In this case, it wasn’t even the Performance of the Week … or month.
Thus, while we acknowledge Inoue’s exceptional night, Crawford clearly earned Fighter of the Month honors for July by embarrassing a future Hall of Famer.
Is Crawford’s victory good enough to make him the Fighter of the Year? It would help his cause to fight a second time in 2023, which is possible given that the new year is five months away. And, of course, other elite fighters will be in action.
Either way, Crawford will be a strong candidate. It might be years before we see a better performance.