Terence Crawford was looking to prove he’s the best welterweight and best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport in tonight’s ESPN pay-per-view main event with Amir Khan. What happened, though, was just another bizarre Saturday night in boxing.
The WBO welterweight title fight ended in the sixth round when Khan was hit by a clear accidental low blow from Crawford. With Khan in pain in the corner, his trainer Virgil Hunter stopped the fight.
Was Hunter hoping for a DQ win in a fight where Khan was clearly behind on the cards? That’s part of the speculation, but we’ll probably never know for sure.
In the end, Crawford retained his belt via TKO at 46 seconds of the sixth round.
Khan (33-5, 20 KO) had already gone down in the first round, when he was caught reaching for a jab, which Crawford (35-0, 26 KO) countered with a right hand that sent Khan spinning, followed by a little left that assisted him down to the canvas.
Khan got up and fought on, as he generally does, but was hurt again late in the first round. He did settle down a bit in the second, and his vaunted hand speed was on display here and there.
But by the fourth round, Crawford had really started to beat up on Khan. He was doing impressive work to the body, landing shots upstairs, and taking over the fight, as Crawford pretty much always has. The fight was getting to be pretty one-sided.
In the sixth, Crawford did land a low blow — he claimed after the fight that it wasn’t one, but it was — and Khan went to his corner in pain. There was some conversation, reportedly involving trainer Virgil Hunter, and the fight was stopped.
It didn’t go to the cards and wasn’t a DQ. Since Hunter stopped the fight, it was ruled a TKO victory for Crawford.
This was the main event of a $70 pay-per-view. However many people bought it — and expectations on that are pretty low — they’re definitely not going to be happy. This was, to put it mildly, not a satisfying way for any fight to end, and the fans at Madison Square Garden booed pretty heavily after the fight was stopped.
“Virgil knew the fight was going in a bad direction and he saved his fighter before something bad happened to him,” Crawford told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after the fight.
Attention then turned to IBF titleholder Errol Spence Jr, seen by most as the only true danger to Crawford at 147 pounds.
“There’s one guy they all talk about and that’s Spence,” Crawford said. “Whenever he wants it, I’m here. Only thing I can do is continue fighting every person they put in front of me, and it can happen sooner or later.”
Promoter Bob Arum was his usual animated self, aggressively screaming over the booing audience and ranting about Al Haymon, the man in charge of Premier Boxing Champions.
“We want to fight Errol Spence, Terence wants it, I think Errol wants the fight,” Arum said. There’s one guy stopping it, and that’s Al Haymon.” As he did earlier this week, Arum called for fans to boycott PBC shows if Haymon wouldn’t make Spence-Crawford/Crawford-Spence a reality.
“He refuses to allow any of his fighters to get beat by Top Rank fighter!” Arum continued, at one point acting as if he’s never worked with Haymon before, which he has, notably for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in 2015. “And if Terence fights Errol Spence, there’s one winner, and that’s Terence Crawford, and Al Haymon refuses to allow it.”
When Amir Khan took to the mic, it was more of he same from the crowd: boos.
“The fight was just getting interesting,” Khan claimed. “Terence is a great fighter. I now realize why he’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I was caught with a shot below the belt. I could feel it in my stomach, that’s why I couldn’t continue. I wouldn’t give up a fight like this.”
He reiterated that he didn’t quit.
“There’s no point in taking five minutes (to recover),” he said. “I couldn’t continue. I’m not one to give up in any fight.”