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Crawford vs Porter preview: Looking back on some of their biggest wins and best performances

Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter square off Saturday, and have very different histories to consider ahead of the fight.

Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter square off Saturday in Las Vegas
Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter square off Saturday in Las Vegas
Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter are just a few days out from fight night, as the two are set to square off on Saturday, November 20, live on ESPN+ pay-per-view from Las Vegas.

Crawford (37-0, 28 KO) has mostly dominated in his career, but a lot of people out there still believe the 34-year-old has something to prove, despite winning world titles in three divisions. There is still the belief that he just hasn’t had the opportunity to face top competition, and that Porter (31-3-1, 17 KO) represents a sincere challenge for him, having been in with so many of the top fighters at 147 lbs during his career.

Let’s take a look back at some of their more notable fights ahead of Saturday’s showdown.

Terence Crawford

“Bud” Crawford has certainly achieved more than just his run in the welterweight division. He’s also been a titleholder at lightweight (2014, made two defenses) and became undisputed champion at junior welterweight, picking up belts between 2015 and 2017 before moving up to 147 lbs.

But boxing can be very “what have you done for me lately,” and also “what can you do in this division,” so we’re going to focus on Crawford’s fights as a welterweight.

Jeff Horn (2018)

Crawford’s move up saw him get an immediate title shot against WBO titlist Jeff Horn, who had very controversially upset Manny Pacquiao in Australia in 2017. After making a victory lap sort of defense against Gary Corcoran in Dec. 2017, Horn still came in a pretty heavy underdog against Crawford, as most fans simply weren’t buying that he had the skills to keep pace with Crawford.

He didn’t, as Crawford dominated Horn and stopped him in the ninth round. The only advantage most believed Horn to have was physical strength, as he was naturally larger than Crawford, but instead he was bullied quite a bit by the American, with Crawford showing he was plenty physically capable at 147. It was a one-sided wipeout, with Horn more or less acknowledging that Crawford had simply been much better than him on the night.

Jose Benavidez Jr (2018)

A grudge match of sorts, with former blue chip prospect Jose Benavidez Jr getting a shot by stepping way up in class against Crawford. Both were pretty chippy coming into the fight, and Benavidez talked a great game leading up to things. On fight night, Crawford walked it.

Benavidez held his own in the first half of the bout, showing some of the skills that had once made him such a promising talent, but then as the rounds wore on, Crawford turned it up a notch and began to run away with things, building up a wide lead on the cards before forcing a stoppage late in the 12th and final round, with referee Celestino Ruiz having seen enough as Crawford piled on the pressure and looked to do damage.

Amir Khan (2019)

With Crawford having no top-level in-house opposition, Top Rank went out and secured the services of Amir Khan, who still had some name value in 2019, although not as much as anyone hoped. Khan’s speed and skills always gave him a chance, in theory, if he could avoid getting cracked.

But “in theory” didn’t even work out here, as Khan just looked faded and in too deep as soon as the first round, when he was dropped once and hurt again. He did have little moments, flashing that vaunted hand speed, but Crawford was on a mission in this one, and did damage to the body and head. The finish was a strange one, as Khan took an accidental low blow, and his trainer Virgil Hunter stopped the fight, which resulted in a TKO-6 win for “Bud” and a strange night even in the strange career of Amir Khan.

Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (2019)

The toughest test Crawford’s had to date as a welterweight, which is perhaps damning with faint praise. “Mean Machine” was a fringe top 10 sort of guy, but not considered a major threat to Crawford, who was still struggling — as were Top Rank — to get big-name opponents, as all of the top welterweights otherwise had been with Premier Boxing Champions.

Kavaliauskas definitely came to win the fight, and he was able to catch Crawford with some good right hands early in the bout, and probably should have had a knockdown scored in his favor in the third round, which referee Ricky Gonzalez ruled a slip. But it wouldn’t have mattered, really, as Crawford finally switched to an orthodox stance in the seventh round and dropped the Lithuanian, who held on but was dropped again and finished off in round nine.

Kell Brook (2020)

Yet again, Top Rank didn’t have anyone major for Crawford to fight, and for a second time, they went to the well of faded British ex-titlists, drafting in Kell Brook for a fight that came just about one year ago as of this writing.

Brook hadn’t fought at 147 since a 2017 loss to Errol Spence Jr, and had just three fights between that one and this, none of them coming against truly serious competition. Brook did come to fight, though, and actually led on two of three scorecards after three rounds, which is the nice way to get to him being totally overwhelmed and stopped in the fourth. A right hook sent Brook stumbling into the ropes, and a knockdown was ruled. Brook tried to continue, but Crawford viciously finished things with a series of shots that gave referee Tony Weeks no choice but to step in.

It’s worth noting, I suppose, that Brook did beat Shawn Porter once, but that was in 2014; the Kell Brook we saw against Porter was not the one Crawford smashed.

Shawn Porter

“Showtime” Shawn Porter, like Crawford, has done a lot in his career. It would be hard to say he’s had the same level of success, but that also comes with an honest truth, that Porter has fought tougher opposition — by quite a lot — and is also a career welterweight, actually coming down from 154 once his career began getting serious in 2010.

This also means there’s a lot more that’s fully known about Porter — how he handles adversity, how he hangs in when the going gets truly tough, and how capable he’s proven at disrupting the rhythms of high-level opponents.

Adrien Broner (2015)

We’ll start with this one, since again, looking for fights that are recent or close to recent, and against good opposition. With Crawford, there’s only so much to choose from. With Porter, there’s a good bit. This “Battle of Ohio” took place in Las Vegas, naturally, as big event boxing doesn’t really happen in Ohio unless Jake Paul is in the main event.

Broner, who has won plenty of titles but struggled against really good opponents, struggled here against a really good opponent. Porter largely dominated an ugly fight, though two of the score cards came back fairly close. Broner spent much of the fighting fouling and running and holding, losing a point in round 11, long after it was plenty warranted. But for once, AB did sense he was losing and tried to turn on the gas, dropping Porter on a nasty left hook early in round 12. A lot of fighters might have been KO’d there, but Porter was not, and he collected himself and hung on for the deserved victory.

Keith Thurman (2016)

Porter and Keith “One Time” Thurman came in with plenty of hype for their title bout in 2016, and lived up to the billing, with a tense, energetic battle that was fought on pretty even terms for all 12 rounds.

It may seem odd to include losses to showcase Porter, but I think the way he fights even in defeat says a lot about who he is as a fighter, and he had an argument for a tight win or a draw here, too. All three cards came back 115-113 for Thurman. With Thurman doing the better pure boxing work and landing some nice counters, Porter tried to maul Thurman as much as he could, and worked the body well and was never out of the fight. It was an unfortunately rare thing for modern boxing: a well-matched fight that fans wanted to see and lived up to what we thought it could be. There was talk of a rematch that never materialized.

Danny Garcia (2018)

Porter, who had held the IBF welterweight title from 2013-14, picked up the vacant WBC belt with a narrow win over Garcia in 2017, which followed wins over Andre Berto and Adrian Granados after the loss to Thurman.

It wasn’t quite as good as the Thurman bout, but it was another well-matched fight that pretty much delivered on what we hoped it would be, competitive throughout, with Porter winning on scores of 115-113, 115-113, and 116-112 and making very clear he was still a force to be reckoned with in the division.

Yordenis Ugas (2019)

Porter’s title defense against Yordenis Ugas nearly got away from him, and in the eyes of many viewers, should have. The Cuban, who had been on a strong run of form and is now the WBA titleholder and Man Who Retired Manny Pacquiao, got his shot at Porter’s WBC belt in early 2019 and gave “Showtime” Shawn hell all night.

Porter did struggle to cut the last bit of weight for this fight (he had to snip off some hair to get there), and a key question about this one has been whether Porter was forced by Ugas to stick with a pure boxing approach more than normal, or forced because he didn’t have the same engine he normally did on the night, or if it was just a tactical mistake in general. He escaped with a split decision win. It was certainly a questionable result, but it’s also not hard to say that Ugas may have let the fight get away from him, too, at least on Max DeLuca’s 115-113 Porter card, which could have gone the other way if Ugas had pressed a bit more in some rounds.

Errol Spence Jr (2019)

After something of an off-night against Ugas, Porter was lined up to unify with IBF titleholder Errol Spence Jr six months later in Los Angeles. Many expected the younger, fresher Spence to have his way, and while Spence did get the win, it was by far the toughest test he’d had as a professional, and proof yet again that Shawn Porter at his best has the style and determination to give anyone a terrible time.

Spence did get the W on split decision scores, but the fight enhanced Porter’s reputation if anything. Spence has been the man fans have wanted to see Crawford face for years, but with Errol currently sidelined with an eye issue that could be career-threatening, Porter steps in as quite arguably the best alternative available right now. If you were to consider Spence sort of inactive, there’s a good argument that Crawford and Porter are currently the top two welterweights out there, with only Ugas in the argument otherwise. And Porter’s fight with Spence shows exactly how dangerous Shawn can still be to any fighter, whether they’re on the pound-for-pound list or not.

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