Terence Crawford’s scheduled showdown with Shawn Porter undoubtedly is Crawford’s highest-profile fight since he moved up to the 147-pound division 3½ years ago.
Yet even with Manny Pacquiao retired and Errol Spence Jr. recovering from a serious eye injury, Crawford doesn’t view his upcoming fight with Porter as the biggest welterweight bout available to him at the moment. Crawford considers a fight with Keith Thurman, Porter’s rival, to be bigger than his WBO 147-pound championship defense against Porter, a former IBF and WBC welterweight champ.
The 34-year-old Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, and the 33-year-old Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs), of Akron, Ohio, will headline an ESPN+ Pay-Per-View event November 20 from Mandalay Bay’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
“Yeah, it’s one of ‘em,” Crawford told a small group of reporters recently in reference to the magnitude of opposing Porter. “It’s definitely one of ‘em. But you still got fighters out there like Keith Thurman and [Yordenis] Ugas and, you know, um these young, younger fighters that’s coming up in the division that’s making they way into the stardom. But I don’t believe, you know, Porter is the only welterweight out there that I can showcase my talent at a high level with. You know, I believe Keith Thurman is a bigger fight, in my eyes. You know, but Keith Thurman’s doing whatever he’s doing.”
The ever-inactive Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) hasn’t fought since Pacquiao barely beat him in July 2019.
The 32-year-old Thurman, of Clearwater, Florida, overcame a first-round knockdown to push Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) throughout a 12-round bout Pacquiao won by split decision nearly 27 months ago at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Judges Tim Cheatham and Dave Moretti scored Pacquiao a 115-112 winner that night, but Glenn Feldman credited Thurman with a 114-113 win.
Crawford looks at the Thurman fight as a bigger event than the Porter bout in part because Thurman beat Porter by unanimous decision. Thurman topped Porter by the same score, 115-113, on all three scorecards in what was a very entertaining, competitive 12-round fight for Thurman’s WBA welterweight title in June 2016 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I feel like Keith Thurman, he was considered the number one fighter in the division,” Crawford said. “You know, whether anybody likes it or not, Keith Thurman was the number one guy in the division. Pacquiao beat him. Nobody else beat him.”
Thurman drew criticism when he was the WBA/WBC 147-pound champion for his seeming unwillingness to face Spence in a title unification fight that should’ve been relatively easy for Al Haymon to put together. Porter gave Spence the toughest fight of his career in September 2019, when Porter overcame an 11th-round knockdown and lost a 12-round split decision to Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.