The twelve-day delay helped to push along an attractive welterweight showdown.
Three-division and reigning WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford (37-0, 28KOs) and former two-division titlist Shawn Porter (31-3-1, 17KOs) have agreed to terms for their highly anticipated title fight, which will take place November 20 atop an ESPN+ Pay-Per-View from Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. Terms were reached in time to cancel a purse bid hearing scheduled to take place noontime Tuesday at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Crawford will attempt the fifth defense of the WBO welterweight title he acquired in a ninth-round knockout of unbeaten Jeff Horn in June 2018. The supremely gifted switch-hitting boxer-puncher from Omaha, Nebraska—who turns 34 later this month—is coming off a fourth-round knockout of former welterweight titlist Kell Brook last November at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Porter aims to become a three-time welterweight titlist. The 33-year-old Akron, Ohio native—who now lives and trains in Las Vegas—previously held the IBF title from December 2013-August 2014 and the WBC strap from September 2018-September 2019. In his most recent start, Porter soundly outpointed previously unbeaten Sebastian Formella over twelve rounds last August at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
The fight was originally ordered July 21, with both sides given 30 days to come to an agreement. Talks barely got off the ground, with the WBO ordering a September 2 purse bid hearing which triggered industry-wide interest. The WBO announced plans to livestream the event on its Facebook page, only for both sides—Top Rank for Crawford and TGB Promotions representing Porter in negotiations—to request a delay in hopes of coming to terms. The WBO obliged, setting a new date of September 14 in place to determine promotional rights.
Even with the additional twelve-day period, it still took an eleventh-hour effort to reach a deal. Several WBO-registered promoters were en route to San Juan to participate in the purse bid before the sanctioning body received the confirmation they needed to cancel the session.
“The purse bid for the bout between [welterweight] champion Terence Crawford and challenger Shawn Porter scheduled for today has been cancelled following an agreement between the parties,” Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcarcel informed BoxingScene.com, confirming a tweet from Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole revealing a deal had been reached. “Tom Brown, representing Porter, and Top Rank, Crawford’s promoter, informed the WBO of the agreement."
Confirmation of a deal being reached follows whispers of talks having advanced much further along than was the case during the first round of negotiations, as first reported by MVO Uncensored Podcast. The threat of promoters external to the careers of Crawford and Porter obtaining the rights to the fight prompted handlers for both parties to work harder in order to come to terms.
The bout offers what was once considered a rare pairing between fighters from Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), though interestingly the second such high-profile matchup in the fall. Tyson Fury (Top Rank/Queensberry Promotions/MTK Global) and Deontay Wilder (PBC) will meet for a third time atop an October 9 PPV show jointly presented by ESPN+ and Fox Sports from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Crawford has been represented by Top Rank for nearly a decade and throughout his title reigns at lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight. The latter title reign has seen his career progress stall, in large part due to a prior inability to secure fights with the top fighters in the division. Most of the significant welterweight talent—including Porter—falls under the PBC umbrella.
Among the notable matchups previously craved was a showdown between Crawford and WBC/IBF titlist Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs), who outpointed Porter in their September 2019 title unification thriller. The closest the two came to a fight was when they engaged in a spirited conversation after a November 2018 ESPN telecast headlined by Maurice Hooker's WBO junior welterweight title-defending knockout win over Alex Saucedo in the challenger's hometown of Oklahoma City. Spence was there to support fellow Dallas native Hooker, while Crawford is a ringside fixture for many Top Rank events.
After the show, Crawford and Spence entered a discussion whose video footage immediately went viral. It sparked industry-wide interest, but never came close to translating into a welterweight superfight.
Crawford finally gets a notable welterweight fight more than three years later, and it comes against a fighter with one of the best resumes in the sport today.
Porter claimed the IBF belt in a December 2013 win over Devon Alexander, defending the belt in a fourth-round stoppage of former two-division titlist Paul Malignaggi before dropping a twelve-round decision to then-unbeaten Kell Brook in August 2014.
More than four years later came Porter’s second reign, courtesy of a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over former two-division titlist Danny Garcia in September 2018.
The fight was for the vacant WBC welterweight title previously held by Keith Thurman, against whom Porter dropped a tightly contested decision in their memorable June 2016 clash though at the time for Thurman's WBA belt.
One successful defense came of the WBC reign, barely outpointing Yordenis Ugas (now the WBA title claimant) via decision in March 2019. Porter then came up just short versus Spence, dropping a split decision in their terrific WBC/IBF title unification fight in September 2019.
Just one win has since followed for Porter, a twelve-round shutout of Formella last August. As strong a resume as Porter boasts, it stands to reason that his toughest challenge lies ahead.
Crawford surged to the upper echelon of the sport, having dominated the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions. Still, the most notable fight of at least his welterweight reign—if not his career—comes courtesy of an assist from the sanctioning body he proudly represents. The WBO named Porter as its mandatory challenger to the welterweight title, which was followed by ordered talks between the two.
As neither had any significant plans on the table—despite both serving as high-profile fighters—all parties involved that the best idea in the end was to get them in the ring.
Despite the union between ESPN+ and Fox Sports for Fury-Wilder III (as well as Fury-Wilder II), no such plans were on the table to present Crawford-Porter in the same fashion. Instead, ESPN+ will produce and distribute its first boxing PPV event on its own since April 2019, when Crawford stopped former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan inside of six rounds at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox