Terence Crawford got a bit more resistance from Egidijus Kavaliauskas than most anyone expected tonight, but in the end he did the job once again, stopping the challenger in the ninth round to retain the WBO welterweight title at Madison Square Garden.
Crawford (36-0, 27 KO) got caught with some good right hands early on from Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KO), and probably should’ve been awarded a knockdown in the third round when he clipped Crawford, who tried to hold inside but did go to the canvas. Referee Ricky Gonzalez ruled it a slip, however.
Kavaliasukas, a two-time Olympian from Lithuania, was able to time Crawford in those early rounds pretty nicely. The challenger clearly prepared well for a southpaw version of Crawford, who switch-hits better than anyone in the sport today, perhaps because he figured Crawford would come out lefty after Kavaliauskas struggled with Ray Robinson earlier this year, winding up with a draw.
As the rounds wore on, Crawford turned the heat up here and there, got into exchanges, but doggedly stayed southpaw — until the seventh round. In the seventh, Crawford went orthodox mid-round and dropped Kavaliauskas, who got up and was able to hold on through the end of the frame with Crawford pressing for the finish.
Crawford stayed orthodox from that point, and in the ninth, he put Kavaliauskas down again and finished him shortly thereafter.
After the fight, Crawford denied being hurt in the third round, and also repeatedly stated that he fought to give the fans a show, something he kind of dumped on fans for expecting from fighters earlier this week.
“He’s a strong fighter, he’s durable, and I thought I’d give the crowd something to be excited about,” Crawford said. “I wasn’t hurt (in the third), but he caught me with a good shot. I walked through everything he threw all night.”
Crawford was, of course, asked who he wanted next, and simply said he’s not avoiding or ducking anyone in the division.
“Listen, I’ve been saying I’ll fight anybody,” he said. “I’ve been saying that for I don’t know how long. I don’t gotta call out anyone. I fought my mandatory, but I’m not ducking anybody on the PBC side or the Top Rank side. Y’all pick ‘em, I’ll fight ‘em.”
Pressed to call his shot, Crawford got a smidge testy with Bernardo Osuna.
“If I could pick ‘em, I would’ve fought all the guys I called out before,” he said. “There’s no need to say any names. Everyone knows who I want to fight. I want to fight all the top guys.”
We’ll see if Crawford gets his wish in 2020.