LINCOLN, Neb. — Terence Crawford took all the drama out of his fight against Julius Indongo, and he did it fast.
Now Crawford is the only undisputed world champion in professional boxing.
Energized by his huge home-state following 45 minutes from his Omaha base, Crawford stopped Julius Indongo in the third round Saturday night to claim all four major belts at 140 pounds.
The fight was the first four-belt unification bout since 2004, when Bernard Hopkins stopped Oscar De La Hoya to claim all the belts in the 160-pound division. Crawford came in with the WBC and WBO belts; Indongo, from Namibia, was the WBA and IBF champion.
“It means everything,” Crawford said. “When you start boxing when you’re 7 years old, that’s your dream to become world champion — and after that you want to become something bigger than world champion. You just don’t stop there. You go to the highest level possible.”
Crawford’s work at 140 pounds probably is finished. A move to 147 looks imminent. Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank said the plan is for Crawford to go with him to Australia for the expected November rematch between Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao. Arum wants Crawford to fight the winner.
“I’m all for it,” Crawford said.
The 29-year-old Crawford was as dominant as ever against Indongo, a 34-year-old from Namibia who was fighting in the United States for the first time after making a rapid ascent to champion.
Though Crawford was a heavy favorite, Indongo had height and reach advantages that caused his camp some concern.
But Crawford sent Indongo to the canvas with a right to the body in the last minute of the second round and just missed with a massive left hook before the bell. At that point he was in firm control.
Midway through the third round, Crawford caught Indongo with a left hook to the body that put him down writhing in pain.
“We knew the body was going to be open, being that he swings so wild,” Crawford said. “We felt we could catch him in the middle of his punches. That’s what we worked on in the gym.”
Crawford (32-0, 23 knockouts) was in his home state for the fifth time in nine fights but for the first time in Lincoln, 45 minutes from his Omaha base.
Indongo (22-1, 11 knockouts) made his rise in his weight division in less than a year after winning bouts in Russia and Scotland.
Crawford entered the ring to roars from the Pinnacle Bank Arena sellout crowd of 12,121 after coming down the steps from the arena concourse. He wore a red No. 140 Nebraska Cornhuskers football jersey, a nod to this city being home to the University of Nebraska.
With fans on their feet and chanting his name, Crawford seized control early. When his final blow took down Indongo, the decibel level increased even more, and Crawford jumped in the air in the middle of the ring in celebration.
Indongo couldn’t get up.
“When he hit me, it hurt so bad,” he said. “When he hit me like that, my mind was gone.”
On the undercard, 20-year-old Shakur Stevenson scored a unanimous decision over Argentinian David Paz in a super featherweight bout. Stevenson (3-0, 1 knockout) flashed superior speed and finesse throughout the six rounds and knocked down Paz (4-4-1) late in the fifth.
Stevenson, of Newark, New Jersey, is considered a rising star in the pro ranks after earning a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics.
“I feel like the competition stepped up this fight and I feel like I put on a good show, a good boxing display,” Stevenson said. “I was really trying to get the knockout, and I was trying to get him with a good hard punch. I was trying to hit him with my left hand and my hook. I do need to use my jab a lot more.”
Light heavyweight contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk (14-0, 12 KOs) of Ukraine stopped Craig Baker (17-2, 13 KOs) of Baytown, Texas, at 2:40 of the sixth round.