Terence Crawford defends his WBO welterweight title for the fifth time in what could be fight of the year on Saturday.
Crawford faces mandatory challenger and former two-time titleholder Shawn Porter at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas.
Crawford, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring, has won titles at 135, 140 and 147. However, it’s his feats at junior welterweight, where he became undisputed champion, that helped separate him from the rest. Since moving to welterweight, the 34-year-old Nebraska native has claimed the WBO title and made four successful defences, beating Jose Benavidez, Amir Khan, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, and Kell Brook all by stoppage.
Porter, who is rated No. 4 by The Ring, is a two-time welterweight titleholder. The 34-year-old Las Vegas resident outpointed Devon Alexander to claim the IBF title in 2013 but lost it the following year to Brook on points. “Showtime” rebounded well and narrowly edged Danny Garcia on points to claim the vacant WBC title in 2018. He made one successful defence before losing a unification match to Errol Spence Jr.
How will Crawford (37-0, 28 knockouts) deal with the raw aggression Porter is likely to pose? Can Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs) rough up the defending champion and get inside and turn it into a brawl? At 34, both have a lot of mileage and any one or both could fall apart at any time. Crawford faces supposedly his most stern test, so the intrigue is there.
“Beating a guy like Shawn Porter would boost my résumé and my legacy to the next level,” said Crawford. And that, in his mind, should be enough to earn the spot he believes he deserves on the pound-for-pound rankings. “I’m not going to be biased, I’m going to be realistic. It depends on how I beat him and what fashion.”
Leapfrogging Canelo Alveraz, the undisputed super-middleweight champion, in the minds of boxing observers is hard to fathom considering Alvarez owns boxing’s best résumé and just made history last month. But if Crawford impresses in this highly anticipated fight, at the very least it becomes a more reasonable debate. Because beating the gritty, gusty Porter would represent his most significant win.
“These two fighters, Terence and Shawn, are the elite of the welterweight division,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Crawford’s promoter. “Because I’ve been around boxing for so long it really reminds me of the great years in the 80s when Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns and Roberto Duran were going at it, fighting each other. The welterweight division has always been a top division because there’s so much action the fighters bring and Terence and Shawn remind me of that era.”
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