Crawford claims crown in style
JEFF Horn has the heart of a champion. Terence Crawford has the heart and hands and feet of a great champion.
Just how brilliant a pugilist Crawford is became abundantly apparent as he dismantled Horn with ease at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The devastating flurry late in the ninth round, forcing referee Robert Byrd to step in and wave off the fight after Horn had absorbed enough punishment, was the final touch on a masterpiece.
Horn could not crack the puzzle of a man who must now be considered pound-for-pound as the best in the world.
Horn's plans to stop-start punch, use different angles and land flush on Crawford's chin was sound, but for Crawford's ability to nullify it all with incredible timing and speed.
He'd lure Horn forward, holding his hands down and chin up, and when the Hornet lurched in he was stung with perfectly placed shots.
When Crawford wanted to set the pace, he simply walked through the bigger man, using agile head movement before unloading three- and four-punch combinations that left Horn wobbled.
Horn may have taken the first round, but Crawford owned the rest.
"I was way stronger than him,' Crawford said after his first fight at welterweight, holding aloft the belt carried here by Horn.
The first round saw Horn land a clean right hand twice while using his footwork to get effect, however Crawford had found a home for his jab early in the second.
Crawford thumped Horn's body and then hooks over the top.
By the third the American was in full swagger, hands down, chin out, inviting Horn in only to snap his head back with precision punches.
Horn was able to land the odd power punch but Crawford was doing the damage with his blistering hand-speed.
The fourth was more of the same. Horn threw and landed more, however Crawford was the more effective striker, timing a perfect one-two on Horn's chin.
In round five Byrd was forced to pull the pair apart twice and warn them to break the clinches, while also warning Horn about using his head. Crawford continued to apply massive pressure on a waning Horn.
There was more punishment in the sixth as Crawford slightly extended his feet, sat down on his punches and began to showcase the power some doubted he'd carry into the heavier division.
By the seventh Crawford had switched to southpaw stance and began pounding Horn's body with right hooks.
He was breaking down the champion.
Horn was rocked by several hooks and uppercuts in the eighth round and barely survived; his heart keeping him up as his body failed him.
Byrd asked in the corner if Horn wanted to continue - the Brisbane man nodded sternly to say "yes".
But it felt as though he was a lamb being sent to slaughter, as the local crowd roared, Horn's trainers gripped the ring tightly, and Crawford stared down his opponent with disregard.
Crawford came in banging. Horn was dropped not long into the ninth, and many wondered whether the towel would be thrown in.
Horn lifted himself off the canvas, wanting to get through this ninth like he did against Manny Pacquiao.
But Crawford was ruthless, determined, hungry, could not be denied.
Blow after clean blow was put on Horn's chin and body until Byrd could see no more and saved him.
Crawford looked at Horn, and roared "Yeah" with menace.
Horn said he'd regroup and bounce back.
This loss takes much shine off his image; he remains a tough as nails customer, but against the slickest fighters in the division he will be questioned for lacking the necessary skills.