LAS VEGAS – Terence Crawford made the most emphatic statement of his career Saturday night.
The undefeated three-division champion stopped former welterweight champion Shawn Porter in the 10th round of their welterweight title fight and produced the most impressive victory of his 13-year pro career before a capacity crowd of 11,568 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena.
With rival Errol Spence Jr. seated ringside, Crawford dropped Porter twice during the 10th round and caused Kenny Porter, Shawn’s father and trainer, to waive a white towel. That’s when a Nevada State Athletic Commission inspector instructed referee Celestino Ruiz to stop their 12-round fight for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title.
Crawford caught Porter with a short left inside that sent Porter to the seat of his trunks just 15 seconds into the 10th round. Porter answered Ruiz’s count in time and instinctively tried to fight out of the trouble.
A determined Crawford made Porter pay for that aggression by sending him to the canvas again after landing a right hook and then a left as Porter was going down again. A disappointed Porter pounded the canvas with his left glove numerous times and finally got up before Ruiz’s count reached 10.
By then, Kenny Porter had walked up the steps in his corner and signaled that he wanted the fight stopped. The official time of the stoppage in this ESPN Pay-Per-View main event was 1:21 of the 10th round.
Crawford, of Omaha, Nebraska, upped his record to 38-0 and recorded his 29th knockout. Porter (31-4-1, 17 KOs), of Akron, Ohio, lost by knockout for the first time in 13 years as a pro.
“I figured that I had the reach and he had to take chances to come in,” Crawford told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna in the ring. “And he did what he normally does. He tried to maul and push me back, but I used my angles and I pushed him back at times as well. Shawn Porter is a slick fighter. He was doing some things in there and made me think.”
Crawford fought out of a southpaw stance for all but the first round, which resulted in countless awkward clinches and led to a cut opening over Porter’s right eye during the third round. The ever-physical Porter attempted as best he could to rough up Crawford, who clinched when necessary to limit Porter’s effectiveness.
Porter succeeded at times, but ultimately, he couldn’t contend with Crawford’s crisp counter punches and extremely high ring IQ. All three judges – Max De Luca (87-84), Dave Moretti (86-85) and Steve Weisfeld (86-85) – had Crawford ahead entering the 10th round.
Porter didn’t dispute his dad’s decision to stop the bout, but he admitted it surprised him.
“The punches he was catching me with were too clean,” said Porter, who announced his retirement during his post-fight press conference. “So, I saw it and felt it, so I just think my timing was off and he wouldn’t allow me to get [into] my rhythm. That was my game plan going in. He’s a dynamite dude in and out of the ring. Congratulations. … He’s the best out of everybody I have been in the ring with.”
Crawford, 34, made the fifth defense of the WBO 147-pound championship he won from then-unbeaten Australian Jeff Horn by ninth-round technical knockout in June 2018 at nearby MGM Grand Garden Arena. Porter, also 34, lost for the fourth time in his 13-year pro career, but more in much more definitive fashion than he had been defeated by Kell Brook (a majority decision in August 2014), Keith Thurman (a close unanimous decision in June 2016) and Spence (a split decision in September 2019).
Porter, a former IBF and WBC welterweight champion, was clearly the best opponent Crawford has fought in a pro career he launched in March 2008. Despite his first three defeats in competitive championship bouts to undefeated fighters, Porter twice won welterweight titles and defeated former or current champions in Yordenis Ugas, Danny Garcia, Andre Berto, Paulie Malignaggi, Devon Alexander and Julio Diaz.
In what was a very competitive fight, Crawford caught Porter with a short left hand that sent Porter to the seat of his trunks approximately 15 seconds into the 10th round. A stunned Porter answered Ruiz’s count and tried to fight out of that trouble, but Crawford finished him.
A lunging left hook by Porter connected with just over two minutes to go in the ninth round. Porter landed a right hand with just under a minute to go in the ninth round, only to have Crawford fire back with two hard left hands that kept Porter from capitalizing on that momentum.
Another sharp right hook by Crawford caught Porter approximately 15 seconds into the eighth round. Porter kept coming forward, though, and clearly was not hurt by that hard shot.
Porter blasted Crawford with an overhand right when there was just under one minute to go in the eighth round. Crawford came back with a right-left combination about 30 seconds later that stopped Porter from moving forward.
Crawford caught Porter with a right hook 45 seconds into the seventh round. Crawford’s left uppercut caught Porter coming forward with about a minute to go in the seventh round.
Porter stayed low and avoided several of Crawford’s punches on the inside early in the sixth round. Ruiz called for a break in the action after an accidental head-butt with just over a minute to go in the sixth round, but Crawford wasn’t cut.
A left-right combination by Crawford connected with just over 40 seconds to go in the sixth round, yet Porter pressed forward.
Crawford tied up Porter about a minute into the fifth round to prevent Porter from punching. Porter pressured him again with about a minute on the clock in the fifth round, but Crawford withstood Porter’s surge and then backed up the challenger.
Neither fighter landed many clean punches during the fifth round.
Crawford connected with a right hook 15 seconds into the fourth round. Another right hook by Crawford landed about 20 seconds later.
An increasingly confident Crawford continued to land his right hook later in the fourth round. A right hand by Porter backed Crawford into the ropes just after the halfway point of the fourth round, but Crawford smiled and shook his head.
Porter missed wildly with a right hand and went through the ropes in a neutral corner with just under 30 seconds on the clock in the fourth round.
Porter caught Crawford with a right hand that backed up Crawford with just under a minute to go in the third round. Porter emerged from the subsequent exchange with a cut over his right eye.
Crawford talked trash to Porter once he noticed blood flowing from that cut, which was caused by an unintentional clash of heads.
Crawford opened the second round fighting from a southpaw stance, something he tried for all of about a split second during the first round. Porter landed a right hand just before the midway mark of the second round, but Crawford looked at Ruiz as if to indicate Porter stepped on his foot.
Less than a minute later, Crawford caught Porter with multiple right hooks that excited the crowd. Crawford also drilled Porter with a counter left just before the bell sounded to end the second round.
Porter went right after Crawford as soon as the opening bell rang, which drew a smile from a retreating Crawford. He backed Crawford into the ropes soon thereafter, which caused Crawford to tie him up.
There were several more awkward entanglements in the first round, when Porter swung wildly and missed with multiple right hands. Crawford connected with a counter left with just under 50 seconds to go in that opening round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.