Terence Crawford has knocked out all of his opponents since moving up to welterweight in 2018.
The fighter nicknamed “Bud” has put his native Omaha, Nebraska, on the boxing map. In the process he mentored by proxy the careers of current WBO junior lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson; and the late-blooming of the man Stevenson took the belt from, Jamel Herring.
Crawford became an undisputed light-welterweight world champion in 2017, five years before Canelo Alvarez at super middleweight. He also is the first undisputed world champion at that weight class since Kostya Tszyu in 2004.
However, in boxing you either sell personality with unmatched skill like Mayweather or have an entire country and culture behind you like Canelo Alvarez. However, Terence Crawford succeeds quietly in the gray zone.
Dogging his career more than anything has been the politics of boxing, where promoters who don’t like each other stall pivotal pairings. Additionally, television rights are like property, and no one gives up their deeds to a fighter’s performance without some concessions.
The True Test
Still, the sanctioning bodies that govern boxing are the difference-makers. When WBO No. 2-ranked welterweight “Showtime” Shawn Porter became Crawford’s mandatory, an instantaneous spark lit up Crawford’s understatedly successful career.
Accolades aplenty, Crawford has not fought anyone of marquee value to push the needle on his greatness. That’s because, in the welterweight division, all the stars reside in the house that Al Haymon built, Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
This weekend at the Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, the two will square off for the biggest welterweight clash of the year. It will be Crawford’s first crack at the league of PBC killers and the definitive fight of his career.
Return Of The Money Weight
Floyd Mayweather Jr. made the weight class the “moneyweight” division, where he pushed the limits of pay-per-view through the roof. With his retirement, the division still holds the cachet, but the pairings haven’t met the grade for casuals and diehards as of late.
Where Errol Spence Jr. was supposed to be the Pacquiao to Crawford’s Mayweather, since Spence’s Ferrari accident in 2019 the two haven’t made the fight happen.
However, Shawn Porter has faced Spence and held his own, losing a split decision to the ordinarily dominant Dallas native. The performance against Spence, along with Porter’s usual phone booth-style, dog-like in-ring work ethic is what makes the fight not only intriguing but pivotal.
A True Dog
There are no easy fights against Shawn Porter, and like Crawford, he wears you down but in a different way. Where Crawford is a sniper, picking his opponent apart strategically with patience, Porter is a workhorse ring general.
Porter has never been knocked out and is a two-time former welterweight world champion. He has also faced all the biggest names in the division and defeated most of them. Where the world clamored for Crawford versus Spence to answer who truly is the welterweight king, Porter was largely overlooked until chosen.
However, as the year winds down for boxing and the big fish had their say this year, this fight is the one that will set the tone for welterweight supremacy.
The Road To Welterweight Supremacy
A win for either fighter sets up various pairings like current WBA (Super) champion Yordenis Ugas or even Spence, who holds the WBC and IBF titles. For Porter, who is under the PBC banner like Ugas and Spence, the road to undisputed is more straightforward.
However, making the Porter fight a reality for Crawford can eliminate future hurdles and have him possibly in contention to become a two-weight-class undisputed world champion.
Crawford would need Porter even if that weren’t clear initially, as the fight will dictate his trajectory and legacy.