Pound-for-pound mainstay and former undisputed champion, Terence Crawford, faces the stiffest test of his prestigious career this evening (Sat., Nov. 20, 2021) when he defends his WBO Welterweight belt against two-time titlist, Shawn Porter, inside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Bud” has won five straight, all by knockout, since fully unifying the 140-pound titles and vacating them to try his hand at 147. He’s drawn a fair bit of criticism for his middling opposition, caused in no small part by promotional conflicts, but there’s little to criticize about a clash with divisional fixture Porter.
The ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) will also see Olympic silver medalist Esquiva Falcao face Patrice Volny for a shot at Middleweight gold, top prospect Janibek Alimkhanuly square off with long-time veteran Hassan N’Dam, and Super Lightweight up-and-comer Raymond Muratalla open the broadcast against Elias Araujo.
All the intrigue’s in the main event, though, so let’s focus our efforts a bit ...
Terence “Bud” Crawford
Record: 37-0 (28 KO)
Last Five Fights: Kell Brook (TKO-4), Egidijus Kavaliauskas (TKO-9), Amir Khan (TKO-6), Jose Benavidez Jr. (TKO-12), Jeff Horn (TKO-9)
Significant Victories (other than those mentioned above): Julius Indongo, Viktor Postol, Thomas Dulorme, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ricky Burns
Shawn “Showtime” Porter
Record: 31-3-1 (17 KO)
Last Five Fights: Sebastian Formella (UD), Errol Spence Jr. (SD Loss), Yordenis Ugas (SD), Danny Garcia (UD), Adrian Granados (UD)
Significant Victories (other than those mentioned above): Andre Berto, Paulie Malignaggi, Devin Alexander
It’s surprisingly easy to mythologize fighters in your head, to turn them into grand, unstoppable paragons of their craft. If you’ve never seen a man taste defeat, you struggle to envision him doing so, even when your conscious mind can easily describe that exact scenario.
Crawford, despite everything, has reached that point. It’s not that he hasn’t struggled, it’s that every time someone seems to have found the answer, he’s switched gears and turned battle into slaughter. Any chink in his armor seals itself before a truly telling blow can pierce it.
I don’t say this to proclaim Crawford the God-king of the division, only to explain my mindset going into this prediction and allow you to adjust your expectations appropriately.
What makes Porter such a pain in the butt for so many top fighters is that while he does have some sound fundamentals, he doesn’t box ... Porter mauls. Toughness, cardio and sheer bull-headedness let him storm forward and shrink the ring until both men can barely fit inside, and there he reigns supreme.
At least, most of the time.
Forcing a scrappy in-fight paid dividends against Errol Spence Jr., but Crawford has a mean streak a mile long. Porter isn’t going to overpower him in a firefight, and considering “Showtime” needs to cow his opponents to keep them from countering him as he steps in, that’s more than a little problematic.
That’s the rub: Porter can’t win a boxing match and can’t off-balance Crawford enough to turn it into a pure slugging match, which he’d still struggle to emerge victorious from. Though he may find early success, things will go downhill fast once Crawford finds his timing. Once the dust settles, a particularly vicious counter ends an increasingly one-sided battle sometime before the championship rounds.
Prediction: Crawford def. Porter via ninth-round technical knockout
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