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A critical look at the past week in boxing
The verdict is in.
The boxing world has demanded that Terence Crawford beat a top-tier welterweight to validate everything he has accomplished in boxing. That’s what he did on Saturday in Las Vegas, becoming the first to knock out Shawn Porter.
It wasn’t easy, as those who have followed Porter’s career expected. The former titleholder boxed with clever aggression, which kept much of the fight close and presented a puzzle for Crawford.
That allowed the champion to demonstrate his greatness in the second half of the fight, as he gradually solved the riddle, began landing hard, damaging punches and then finished the show by putting Porter down twice and stopping him in the 10th round.
Crawford was never better, even at 34. Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman beat Porter but they couldn’t destroy him as Crawford did.
Persistent critics might say that Porter wasn’t at his best. Why else would he announce his retirement afterward? And what about Kenny Porter’s comments? The challenger’s father/trainer said his son didn’t prepare properly.
C’mon, let’s be fair. We’ve been clamoring for Crawford to fight someone at Porter’s level. He finally made it happen. And then he did his job in the ring. Period.
I have believed for some time that Crawford is the best fighter in the world pound for pound, better than Canelo Alvarez. Most consider the Mexican star No. 1 but they have to acknowledge that the case for Crawford is stronger after Saturday.
And let’s hope this is only the beginning. Are you listening Errol?
That was a tough way for Porter to go out.
He was brilliant in the first half of the fight, which was a chess match between two masters. Neither could separate from the other. Porter was still in the fight almost until the end, as the scorecards after nine rounds indicate: 87-84, 86-85 and 86-85 in Crawford’s favor.
Indeed, Porter had a real chance to claim his own defining victory. And then he didn’t, as Crawford took control in the second half of the fight and finished the show.
Porter announced his retirement at the post-fight news conference, which was surprising on one hand. He fought on even terms with arguably the best in the business for seven or eight rounds. Does anyone doubt that he can still compete with the top 147-pounders?
On the other hand, he has already begun a successful career as a television analyst. Maybe he had one foot in the ring and one out of it, which is a good reason to call it quits.
If Porter’s career is over, he can look back on it with pride. He’s a two-time titleholder. He fought more top 147-pounders than any active welterweight, beating Danny Garcia and Yordenis Ugas but losing to Keith Thurman, Spence and now Crawford.
The losses to Thurman and Spence were so close that they enhanced Porter’s reputation. Only Crawford was able to stop him.
Porter might’ve realized one of his fears on Saturday, that he will be remembered as a good fighter who came up short in most of his biggest fights. That’s probably the reality. The loss on Saturday might mean he’ll fall short of induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, too.
At the same time, there is little doubt that Porter was one of the better welterweights of his era. And he was always fun to watch. He’ll be remembered fondly.
Kenny Porter’s interview immediately after his son’s loss to Crawford was bizarre.
The elder Porter was asked why he stopped the fight. “Honestly? His preparation,” he responded. That was disturbing on at least two levels.
One, the implication was that Shawn Porter was less than 100% for the fight, which would mean the fans were cheated out of his best effort. I’m guessing they merely butted heads over how to prepare for Crawford, nothing more than that.
And, two, he made the declaration in front of the packed crowd at Mandalay Bay with the fighter standing next to him immediately after the fight. It was embarrassing to watch.
Kenny Porter must’ve known that Shawn had planned to retire after the fight. What purpose did his comments serve? It seemed like an I-told-you-so moment directed at his son, an expression of frustration at the expense of someone he loves.
And, two, the notion that the younger Porter might not have been at his best also served to diminish Crawford’s accomplishment, however slightly. That was another reason Kenny Porter should’ve kept his thoughts to himself.
I wish he would’ve simply said that he stopped the fight to protect his son, who was taking a beating from a better fighter. That was the truth. And it would’ve sufficed.
Crawford, a free agent after Saturday, announced at the post-fight news conference that he is ending his relationship with long-time promoter Bob Arum. The fact Crawford fought for Top Rank and the other top 147-pounders were affiliated with Premier Boxing Champions limited Crawford’s chances of getting the fights he wanted, including one with Spence. “I’m pretty sure my decision is made already,” Crawford said. “Bob couldn’t secure me the Spence fight when I was with him, so how is he gonna secure me the Spence fight when I’m not with him? I’m moving forward with my career right now and I wish everybody the best.” We’ll see whether this leads to the Crawford-Spence showdown. … Demetrius Andrade (31-0, 19 KOs) on Friday demonstrated again that he deserves a shot at the top middleweights, putting Jason Quigley (19-2, 14 KOs) down three times before stopping him in the second round in New Hampshire. Was Quigley a significant test? No. The Irishman is a solid fighter, though. And Andrade demolished him. The WBO titleholder deserves a shot at the Gennadiy Golovkin–Ryota Murata winner or Jermall Charlo in a title-unification bout. It has to happen eventually, right? …
I want to reiterate that I admire anyone with the courage to step through the ropes and engage in hand-to-hand combat. That goes for McWilliams Arroyo, the longtime flyweight contender. That said, he appeared to quit against WBC champ Julio Cesar Miranda (18-1, 14 KOs) on the Andrade-Quigley card. Arroyo (21-4, 16 KOs) suffered two cuts above his right eye, which were attributed to an accidental head butt in a bloody second round. After the round, the ring doctor asked Arroyo whether he could see out of the eye and he said he couldn’t even though it wasn’t bleeding at that moment. Thus, the fight was stopped and declared a no-contest. Sometimes boxers take advantage of opportunities to get out of fights when things look bleak. Is that acceptable? You can be the judge of that. … Junior featherweight titleholder Murodjon Akhmadaliev (10-0, 7 KOs) gave an impressive performance on the Andrade-Quigley card, easily outpointing Jose Velasquez (29-7-2, 19 KOs) to retain his belts. However, it was Velasquez’s toughness that stood out to me. The late replacement from Chile took dozens of power shots from a big puncher but never blinked. He has to have one of the best chins in the sport. I hope he gets more opportunities.