Terence Crawford left no doubt who the best 147-pound fighter in the world is Saturday night. His dismantling of Errol Spence Jr. inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas will go down as one of the most dominant performances in boxing history.
For "Bud," this was the validation he spoke of ahead of the title fight, desiring to be the top boxer of his generation in a prestigious division like welterweight.
"I can't say I'm the best guy in my era if there's still one guy [on] Mount Rushmore sitting beside me," Crawford said before the fight. "I got to be up there by myself."
Now he's there all alone, and with that brings more questions. Should a rematch with Spence be his next fight? Could another 147-pounder be a bigger threat? Or are there bigger fish to fry in a larger weight class?
ESPN's boxing correspondents Michael Coppinger, Ben Baby and Michael Rothstein answer these questions about the future prospects of Crawford.
Does boxing need the Crawford-Spence rematch?
Simply, no. Boxing doesn't need the Crawford-Spence rematch, especially not right away. Crawford's deconstruction of Spence was so thorough and so complete that few people want to see it again. It won't matter if the fight is at 147 or 154 pounds or 475 pounds, what Crawford proved Saturday night is that he is a better fighter than Spence.
The difference between this fight and others where a rematch is warranted is that Spence rarely showed any ability to get near Crawford, or to put him in any sort of trouble. From the second round on, it felt as if Crawford was in complete control and nothing suggested a rematch would go any differently.
Remember, Spence is a really good fighter. Crawford is potentially the best fighter of his generation, and considering top fighters actually step in the ring just twice a year, I'd rather see Crawford fight Jaron "Boots" Ennis if he were to stay at 147 pounds, or a fighter like Tim Tszyu if he were to make the move up to 154 pounds. The best potential fight, for now, might be Crawford against undisputed junior middleweight champ Jermell Charlo, who's moving up to face Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed middleweight championship but intends to defend his 154-pound belts after. But no guarantee that fight could take place.
Crawford is at the point in his career where he should take the top fight available to him every time, and after the way Spence-Crawford unfolded, it's tough to make the argument that Spence would be the top fight offered to Crawford right now. -- Rothstein
Can anybody beat Crawford at 147? Why stay in the division?
It's hard to see anyone hanging with Crawford, much less beating him at this point.
Spence edged the opening round and after that, it was clear Crawford was several levels above him. Crawford has accomplished all he needs at 147 pounds, but he hasn't cleaned out the division.
And if he leaves welterweight without fighting Ennis, there will always be criticism that Crawford ducked Boots. So I'd like to see Crawford remain at 147 pounds for one more fight, a matchup with Ennis that would be highly anticipated by boxing fans.
Ennis is undefeated in 32 pro fights and has displayed crushing power with only three of his opponents hearing the final bell. He's also hitting his athletic prime at age 26 and is coming off a career-best win, a spectacular KO of Roiman Villa in July.
What Ennis hasn't proved is that he can perform at a high level against fellow elite boxers. It's clear he's ultra-talented, with his smooth footwork and crisp combinations. But like Crawford for so many years, Ennis hasn't been afforded the opportunity to display his talent against the best.
A showdown between Crawford and Ennis for the undisputed welterweight championship is now one of the best fights the sport can deliver. And if Crawford can turn back Ennis, too, and wants another fight at 147 pounds, a bout with Eimantas Stanionis would be intriguing.
But first, bring on Boots! -- Coppinger
Should Crawford wait for Jermell Charlo for his next fight? If not, who should he face next?
It makes sense for Crawford to wait for a potential fight against Charlo, who will fight Alvarez on Sept. 30 in a battle of two undisputed fighters. If Crawford beats Charlo, it will make him the first man to become a three-division undisputed champion in the current era. That is very intriguing.
But how long would Crawford have to wait in this scenario? Even if Charlo doesn't sustain any significant damage and there's no rematch, would Charlo want to fight Crawford at the end of the year? Charlo hasn't fought twice during a calendar year since 2019.
Crawford is 35 years old. He is coming off a legacy defining victory. The worst thing he could do is squander the momentum from this win by not fighting again before the end of the year. The sooner he's back in the ring, the more he'll be able to cash in on his current stardom. -- Baby
What are a few realistic options for Spence?
If Spence doesn't exercise the rematch clause and decides to campaign at 154 pounds, like he said he would, there will be ample options for him following his first defeat.
Spence wasn't interested in a tuneup bout after his serious car crash, nor following surgery to repair a detached retina, so don't look for him to fight a genuine comeback opponent.
Instead, Spence could meet one of the many middling contenders in one of boxing's weakest divisions.
If Charlo vacates his four junior middleweight titles following his fight with Alvarez at 168 pounds, expect Spence to vie for one of those belts in his 154-pound debut.
Title or not, the most viable option for Spence could be Brian Castano, who had a controversial draw with Charlo in 2021 before he was stopped in last year's rematch. The Argentine hasn't competed since the loss.
The second-best option: The winner of the rematch between Brian Mendoza and Sebastian Fundora. Fundora, with his 6-foot-6 frame, was establishing himself as a force at 154 pounds before he suffered an upset KO defeat to Mendoza in April.
Another realistic option for Spence is Erickson Lubin, whose two losses came against Charlo (KO 1) and Fundora (TKO in one of last year's best action fights).
The best choice of all, though, would be a high-stakes showdown with Australian star Tszyu. The dangerous pressure fighter broke out this year with an impressive stoppage of Tony Harrison and a TKO 1 of journeyman Carlos Ocampo.
Tszyu was attempting to stay busy while he waited for Charlo to recover. Now in search of a big fight, Spence would more than fit the bill.
However, it would be surprising if Spence chose such a difficult assignment following the thorough beatdown Crawford handed him.