The chips are falling into place.
Ever since former lightweight and Jr. welterweight champion Terence Crawford (37-0, 28 KO), 33, rose to win a WBO belt at welterweight in June 2018, a vocal contingent of boxing fans have made it clear what they want to see.
They’re not getting it.
Former two-time welterweight titlist Shawn Porter (31-3-1, 17 KO), 33, is in the enviable position of eliminating the option and turning a desire for Crawford versus WBC/IBF welterweight titlist Errol Spence (27-0, 21 KO) into merited rematches for Porter against WBA titlist Yordenis Ugas (27-4, 12 KO). Porter has a competitive loss to Spence and a debated win over Ugas.
And now Porter will tackle Crawford on November 20th.
After a summer of delays and cancellations, it was welcome news. It was a big missing piece of what looks like a fascinating fall boxing schedule, ensuring welterweight does its part to help the sport regain the steam it looked like it had in the first half of 2021.
While it might not be the fight hardcore fans want the most, Crawford-Porter is excellent on its own. It also proves what everyone knew all along anyways: when sides of the street are ready to do business, they do business.
Folks who pay attention to professional wrestling and the relationship between AEW and New Japan are familiar with the term forbidden door. In that case, it reflected a business relationship that wasn’t when AEW initially launched.
In boxing, it has been the separate silos of the welterweight division in the last few years. Crawford has been left as an island largely to himself with promoter Top Rank and network ESPN. The PBC relationships with Showtime, Fox, and almost everyone of note at welterweight besides Crawford meant a high quality round robin with three of the four major alphabet titles to add to the marquee.
Crawford versus the PBC welterweights was boxing’s forbidden door until it wasn’t anymore this week.
Regardless of who one wants to blame for why it’s taken this long, Porter being the man to open the door to Crawford should come as no surprise. Porter is one of those fighters who glue eras together.
Porter is the sort of fighter who doesn’t win them all but leaves the impression of trying to fight them all before they’re done. Fighters like Porter, Carl Froch, or Vic Darchinyan, just to name a few in recent vintage, may not ever press for the top of the pound for pound ratings but they add depth and character to their time.
They are fighters of accomplishment who make the few who get by them earn it.
Porter won’t come to lose in November and just might pull off the upset. Porter gave Spence everything he wanted and more. Crawford will be fighting for the first time in roughly a year and even without the layoff would need to be his best self. The pressure is certainly heavier on the defending titlist.
Crawford is 11-0 against fighters rated in the top ten by TBRB or Ring but only two of those wins came at welterweight. He laid claim to history’s throne at 135 and 140 lbs. but neither division was going through a remarkable run at the time. Porter has been a stalwart part of the welterweight upper echelon closing in on a decade. Sure, he fell a little short against Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, and Spence, but there were also solid wins against Devon Alexander, Adrien Broner, and Danny Garcia.
Porter is a degree of welterweight Crawford simply hasn’t seen yet.
If Crawford continues to be as good as he’s looked, it all amounts to a potential gateway. There has been demand all along for Spence-Crawford but a Crawford win over Porter would be gasoline on a long simmering flame.
Crawford-Porter will be a blaze all its own in November.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.