The huge welterweight mega fight went the way of Terence Crawford, who became the first undisputed champion at the weight in the four-belt era with a masterful ninth round stoppage of Errol Spence Jr at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) knocked down Spence Jr (28-1, 22 KOs), three times including twice in the seventh round before Harvey Dock intervened amid an onslaught of punishment.
After the ring walks, where Eminem led Crawford into battle, it was down to business, with both attempting to establish their southpaw jabs in a tense opening round.
Spence, who held the WBA ‘super’, WBC and IBF crown, landed a nice left hand to begin the second, and targeted the body of his opponent, while Crawford, who headed in as the WBO champion was happy to measure and study, until he unleashed a well-timed right hand that floored the 33-year-old as he lunged in towards the end of the frame.
Spence beat the count, and the following onslaught to see out the round. He went on the attack at the start of round three, and the pair exchanged, with Crawford getting the better of the action, and the Nebraskan was busting his man up, landing with a massive left that hurt Spence in the fourth.
Spence’s face was a mess as the power punches of ‘Bud’ couldn’t miss, and the doctor was called in to check on the unified champion between rounds, although he did back up the 35-year-old with a left hand in the fifth.
Crawford, who stopped David Avanesyan in December, bossed round six, and a raking right hand had ’The Truth’ over once more in the seventh, this time more heavily, and although he admirably survived, a savage right hook had him down for a third time.
Spence continued to be sent out in forlorn hope, and Crawford walked him down in the eighth, raining in more right hands, before the end came a round later, with the referee mercifully stepping in after several chopping blows had Spence in deep trouble, and unable to defend himself.
Spence, who lost his unbeaten record, insisted he would active his rematch clause to face Crawford again.
Donaire falls short in world title bid
Elsewhere, It could finally be the end of a very long career for Nonito Donaire (42-8, 28 KOs), as the Filipino failed in a bid to win back his old belt, with Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KOs) taking the vacant WBC bantamweight title with a points win.
The Mexican got the nod by two scores of 116-112, and a third at 115-113.
Cruz edges past Cabrera
The WBC lightweight title eliminator went the way of Isaac Cruz, as the Mexican ended the unbeaten record of Giovanni Cabrera via split decision. One judge scored the bout 114-113 for Cabrera (21-1, 7 KOs), overruled by tallies of 115-112 and 114-113 for Cruz (25-2-1, 17 KOs).
In ten round contests, Yoenis Tellez (6-0, 5 KOs) impressed, stopping former European champion, Sergio Garcia (34-3, 14 KOs) in three rounds at super welterweight, and Jose Salas Reyes (13-0, 10 KOs) halted Aston Palicte (28-6-1, 23 KOs) in four at super bantamweight.
Steven Nelson (19-0, 15 KOs) took a wide ten round decision win against Rowdy Legend Montgomery (10-5-1, 7 KOs) in their super middleweight meeting.
The sole eight rounder saw Demler Zamora (12-0, 9 KOs) take every session against Nikolai Buzolin (9-5-1, 5 KOs) at lightweight.
In six round attractions, Kevin Ceja Ventura (11-1, 8 KOs) lost his unbeaten record in a points loss to Deshawn Prather (16-1, 2 KOs) at welterweight, while Justin Viloria (3-0, 3 KOs) stopped Pedro Penunuri Borgaro (5-1, 3 KOs) in the fourth at super featherweight.
Jabin Chollet (8-0, 7 KOs) took care of Michael Portales (3-2-1, 1 KO) in two rounds at lightweight.