The welterweight division is one of the most fascinating in boxing right now and there’s another titanic clash coming up tomorrow (Nov 20) in Vegas.
On Saturday, Terence Crawford will put his WBO title on the line against Shawn Porter, with both men confident of victory. Crawford has won world titles in three different weight classes and has his eye on a unification fight against Errol Spence Jr.
But first he must get past Porter, a two-time world champion, in what could prove one of the toughest challenges of his career.
Checking out the betting markets confirms that Crawford will go into this fight as the firm favorite. The industry experts at www.bookmakers.com have gathered a number of high-profile sportsbooks, which consistently have Crawford priced up to the hilt, with Porter the outsider by a wide margin.
But then, of course, big fights like this have a tendency to produce explosive and surprising results.
Huge fight for Crawford
Crawford has been in some big fights in his career, but this potentially is one of the most significant, particularly for his career and eventual legacy. For a start, it could be his last fight under veteran promoter Bob Arum, who has previously criticized Crawford, something that may provide extra motivation.
There is no doubt that Crawford can go a long way towards silencing his critics by beating Porter, who is perhaps the toughest opponent he has been up against in a substantial amount of time, even though Porter himself has suffered a lot of damage over the years.
Slow start, fast finish
A potential problem for Crawford is that he is a famously slow starter. He has often given up the opening few rounds as he aims to get a feel for his opponent’s plan and style so that he can make the necessary adjustments.
The result has been that he has tended to get better as the fight goes on. Yet he rarely goes the distance. Once he has found his range, Crawford is an excellent finisher.
His record at first glance is extremely impressive. He has recorded figures of 37-0-0, with 28 KOs. And in recent fights, his knockout record and efficiency have been getting better still.
Overall, he has a 76% knockout figure, but across his last 12 fights, he has recorded a KO on 10 occasions. Only Viktor Postol and Felix Diaz among those opponents have avoided a KO.
Hope for Porter
All of this suggests that Porter has a mountain to climb if he is to win this one. So, what can he do to combat his rival’s potent finishing power?
For a start, he has to find a way to upset Crawford’s rhythm. He will have to employ an aggressive approach to match the counter-punching style that has served Crawford so well throughout his career, and hope that this approach will prove disruptive to his opponent’s game plan.
The problem for Porter could be his own rustiness. He hasn’t had a fight since August of 2020, when he beat Sebastian Formella on points.
It is reasonable to assume that he will be at least a little ring rusty, which could make it tough for him to take advantage of those early rounds when Crawford tends to be a little more cagey than usual.
The key to a Porter win will be to embrace his natural style, rooted in aggression and athleticism, and hope that this is enough to unsettle Crawford and disturb the favorite’s method.
At his best, Crawford has an awkwardness and activity level that can keep his opponent on his toes throughout the bout, and that level of activity could win him a round or two early on.
But he has to be cautious. As a natural counter-puncher, Crawford will look for any opportunity to counter-attack and Porter has on occasion been known to punch out of position. This habit could prove highly costly against the undefeated champion.
How will it go?
That fitness issue could be a big factor here. It is worth remembering that Crawford himself hasn’t been inside the ring since November 2020, so both fighters could be feeling it by the end. That said, Crawford is still likely to be stronger than Porter in the closing rounds.
One significant issue for Porter is that lately he has shown a tendency to fade in the later stages of the fight in recent bouts. That is not surprising, given the number of tough fights he has been through, and he has a record of being dropped and getting hurt late in some of his more recent contests.
That could prove decisive against an opponent like Crawford, who is adept at conserving energy and then striking when his opponent is at his weakest.
There is also the danger that Crawford could change up his approach and take the initiative early, forcing Porter to try to catch up and fight his way out of being behind, which will make him even more vulnerable to counter-shots.
It is not surprising, given Crawford’s record, that he is the big favorite. Sportsbooks seem to favor a victory for the reigning champion in the eighth or ninth round.
But Porter is a tough campaigner and will not go down easily. This has all the makings of a bruising and memorable bout, and boxing fans will be eagerly anticipating what could be one of the fights of the year.