LAS VEGAS — Terence Crawford jumped up and down in jubilation. Or maybe it was an exorcism. For years, he has been tormented by questions surrounding his résumé. No more.
Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) notched the biggest win of his career on Saturday at Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay, scoring a 10th-round TKO victory over Shawn Porter to retain his WBO welterweight title. But the title defense didn’t come easy — far from it.
Porter (31-4-1, 17 KOs) applied relentless pressure in a rugged, tit-for-tat battle before Crawford scored two knockdowns in Round 10, leading his father and trainer, Kenny Porter, to throw in the towel. The stoppage came at 1 minute, 21 seconds and marked the first time in Porter’s career that he was stopped.
The first knockdown resulted from a counter left cross to the face as Porter swung wildly. Moments later, a barrage of punches punctuated by a right hook sent the two-time champion to the canvas before Porter’s father jumped up in the corner to grab the ref’s attention 81 seconds into the round.
“His dad did the right thing by stopping it because I was coming with a vengeance,” said Crawford, who was ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage: 86-85, 87-84 and 86-85.
Porter, who was fighting for just the second time since a September 2019 loss to Errol Spence Jr., announced his retirement after the bout.
Crawford, at 34, has plenty more to fight for as he continues to push for the biggest fights out there. And none would be more meaningful than one with Spence, who sat ringside Saturday night.
Perhaps Spence’s presence is a prelude to an eventual meeting with Crawford, a fight that would determine the best welterweight in the world, once and for all.
“You see what I did compared to what he did,” Crawford said, referring to Spence’s split-decision victory over Porter. “Who’s No. 1 in the welterweight division now? You know who I want, I’ve been calling him out all day. Maybe Spence will get his tail out of his butt and fight me.”
Now that Spence, ESPN’s No. 1 welterweight, is cleared to train following surgery to repair a detached retina, there’s hope the bout will materialize next year. In the meantime, Crawford made a statement with a stoppage of a durable fighter and cemented his status as boxing’s best finisher.
He has knocked out nine consecutive opponents. The previous eight weren’t close to Porter’s level. The last opponent to go the 12-round distance with him, Viktor Postol, doubles as Crawford’s best previous foe, but that decision win for Crawford came at 140 pounds.
At 147, where Crawford is ranked No. 2 by ESPN, his resume was severely lacking. Enter Porter, a measuring stick whose other two defeats came via narrow decision against prime versions of Kell Brook and Keith Thurman.
And until Round 10, it appeared this fight was headed for a similar fate. Porter used foot feints and upper-body movement in an attempt to confuse Crawford and set up his attack.
Porter unleashed punches in barrages, usually followed by a few forearms as he pushed Crawford to the ropes. Crawford backpedaled, looking to create separation for his counter shots, and as the rounds wore on, he started to find his mark more and more.
But Porter wasn’t deterred. He continued to press forward and connected on several hard shots, particularly looping rights that he fired repeatedly. Porter never appeared to tire, and he was squarely in the fight when he was abruptly floored by Crawford.
“He’s the best out of everybody I have been in the ring with,” said Porter, who was guaranteed $4 million. “He was on point, A-Z, and he was that good.”
Added Kenny Porter: “He didn’t prepare like I wanted him to prepare. He fought a great fighter, [but] it was like fighting him blindfolded. When guys get to certain levels, they believe they know what they are doing. Shawn was hurt. [Crawford’s] a sharp fighter, and my kid was at a deficit and I couldn’t let it go on.”
With Porter out of the way, Crawford will surely move on in search of greater challenges. The promoter of Crawford’s next fight is far less certain.
All his title fights have been promoted by Top Rank, and he has made tens of millions of dollars with Bob Arum’s company. His greatest payday arrived Saturday, a guaranteed $6 million in his biggest fight yet. But his long-term contract with Top Rank is now expired, and there will surely be plenty of suitors.
“I’m pretty sure my decision is made already,” Crawford said. “Bob [Arum] couldn’t secure me the Spence fight when I was with him, so how is he going to secure me the Spence fight when I’m not with him? I’m moving forward with my career now.”
No matter what comes next, Crawford can soak in the adulation of his greatest victory to date, and he did so by dancing with his mother, Debra, as the crowd roared its approval. Canelo Alvarez remains the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound, but if Crawford can entice more top boxers into the ring, he might catch him soon enough.
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