BOXING

Terrence Crawford defeats Shawn Porter to retain welterweight title

It was a back and forth war that went to the wire between two great fighters.

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Terrence Crawford defeats Shawn Porter to retain welterweight title

The welterweight champion found himself in a war of wills against his opponent, but in the end he stood firm.

Terrence Crawford retains his title

Was it the sweet joy of victory or the intense satisfaction that comes when one proves the doubters wrong? Either way Terence Crawford jumped and jumped after his hard fought win on Saturday night. Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) registered by far the most important win of his career on Saturday at Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay. With a 10th-round TKO victory over Shawn Porter, the defending champ retained his WBO welterweight title. It must be said, however, that the defense of his title was no easy task, quite the opposite in fact.

Porter and Crawford go to war

While Crawford would have surely entered the fight full of confidence, the reality was, there was a warrior waiting in the other corner. Shawn Porter (31-4-1, 17 KOs) subjected Crawford to relentless pressure from the first round in a rough, back and forth battle before Crawford found his composure. Indeed it was Crawford who scored two knockdowns in Round 10. At that point Porter's father and trainer, Kenny Porter grabbed the referee's attention to stop the fight. It 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. Speaking after the fight, Crawford was stone cold. "His dad did the right thing by stopping it because I was coming with a vengeance," he said. Interestingly Crawford was ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage: 86-85, 87-84 and 86-85.

Crawford sets his sights on Perhaps Errol Spence Jr.

Sitting ringside on fight night was none other than Errol Spence Jr., a unified welterweight world champion who has held the IBF title since 2017 and the WBC title since 2019. A fight between the two would undoubtedly clarify who the best welterweight in the world is. Speaking post fight Crawford was clear about who he wants next. "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."Where Spence himself is concerned, the #1 ranked boxer has just recently got the all clear to train following surgery to repair a detached retina. Logic would seem to suggest that a bout would be fought in the new year. For now, Crawford knows that he just laid down a marker while confirming himself as one of boxing's best.

Crawford makes his claim, but how did it go down?

Having now KO'd his last eight opponents, one could be forgiven for thinking it was business as usual against Porter, but it must be said that none of them were near Porter's ability. At 147lbs, Crawford was ranked No. 2 by ESPN coming into the fight, but his list of defeated opponents lacked pedigree. That's where Porter came in. A fighter whose only other defeats came in tight decisions against Kell Brook and Keith Thurman. Indeed, up until the 10th round the fight seemed set for a narrow decision yet again as Porter seemed to find success in his footwork and upper body feints.

There were moments where unloaded on Crawford with a series of combinations, pushing the latter to the ropes. Crawford found himself having to retreat on varying occasions as he sought to create space for a counter attack. Bit by bit Crawford began to whittle away at Porter but even then it was not a deterrent. Porter began to press forward and actually connected with several heavy blows, including a crafty set of looping rights that he discharged repeatedly. His stamina was on full show as he took on the defending champion until the moment when Crawford finally floored him.

"He's the best out of everybody I have been in the ring with," Porter said post fight. "He was on point, A-Z, and he was that good." Porter's father Kenny echoed his son's statements but also lamented the preparation. "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."

Terrence Crawford think it's time for change

Having cleared the way for a highly anticipated fight against Spence, Crawford is actually considering changing promotion companies. To date each of his title fights have been promoted by Top Rank. In the process he has made millions of dollars with Bob Arum's organization, with his biggest payout coming courtesy of Saturday night's fight to the tune of $6 million guaranteed. Crawford's contract with Top Rank, however, has expired. "I'm pretty sure my decision is made already," he 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."

Regardless of who the next opponent is, Terrence Crawford can enjoy the moment he has earned. Indeed it seems he started doing so in the best way one can as he danced with his mother Debra post fight.