Terence Crawford takes a pretty high amount of criticism for someone considered to be one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in boxing, because it’s believed he still hasn’t faced a top fighter. That perception could change on Saturday, when he takes on Shawn Porter in a PPV main event from Las Vegas.
Will Crawford pass another test, the biggest of his career, or is Porter waiting as a reality check for “Bud”?
When looking back at the fights these two men have had in their careers, it becomes staggeringly obvious that Terence Crawford is facing the best opponent he’s ever faced in his career, and by a fair bit.
That’s no disrespect to the good fighters Crawford (37-0, 28 KO) has beaten, and make no mistake, he has beaten some over his career. Given how boxing can be navigated by a savvy promoter, it’s probably not impossible to win world titles in three divisions without ever really beating someone good, but it’s really hard. Wins over Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ray Beltran, Viktor Postol, “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas, and others shouldn’t just be ignored.
But not one of those fighters presented the danger that Porter (31-3-1, 17 KO) presents to the welterweight version of Crawford. Shawn isn’t a young fighter anymore — like “Bud,” he’s 34 — but he’s still fighting very well, and what’s more is he has such unusual rhythms that he has to be tough to prepare for, and we’ve seen everyone he’s faced struggle with him, basically, even if they manage to grind out a win.
“He makes fights ugly. He’s got a style of winning by any means necessary,” Crawford said recently of Porter. “If he’s gotta go in there and stink it up just to get the victory, he’s gonna stink it up to get the victory. That’s somebody that you’ve got to worry about, because he’s gonna do everything in his will to win the fight.”
It’s clear that Crawford has respect for Porter — he’s also noted that Porter can box, brawl, and do anything needed in a fight — and that respect clearly goes both ways. Porter has an obvious admiration for Crawford’s skills, calling Terence an “elite boxer,” which he is.
But Porter has taken an interesting approach pre-fight, too, saying he believes Crawford to be an “emotional fighter.”
“He’s got this rhythm about himself and he’s got, of course, a confidence about himself. And that’s kind of, like, where I live,” Porter said. “I live in disrupting your rhythm, I live in figuring out what makes you uncomfortable. It’s hard to adjust to on fight night. When I look and I see the way he likes to move, and I don’t allow him to move that way and disrupt things — he’s someone who’s an emotional fighter. He’s gonna get uncomfortable and it’s gonna start to fester mentally and emotionally, and it’s gonna show up in the fight.”
Porter also poked at that idea a little bit at Wednesay’s final press conference. Crawford stayed pretty contained, and it’s certainly not to say the approach will pay off for Porter. What he may see as Crawford being “emotional” at times in fights is just as easy to read as Crawford having a vicious focus when he thinks he has a fight in control. The question Shawn wants to ask, then, is whether or not that nasty side of “Bud” can be turned against him if things aren’t in control.
It’s not Errol Spence Jr, which is the fight everyone has wanted for Crawford for a couple of years now. But with Spence sidelined with an eye injury, this really is as good a fight as there is out there for the Top Rank star, and it’s encouraging to see Premier Boxing Champions work again with Top Rank to make a good fight, and vice versa. Here’s hoping this is the sort of thing that becomes more commonplace.
While there are no blockbuster matchups, this isn’t a totally wasted undercard, either. Headlining the action below the main event will be an IBF middleweight eliminator between Esquiva Falcao (28-0, 20 KO) and Patrice Volny (16-0, 10 KO).
Falcao, 31, was a silver medalist for Brazil at the London Olympics in 2012, and turned pro in 2014. He’s spent seven years farting around, to be honest about it, but we saw something similar with the career of countryman Robson Conceicao, who won gold at Rio 2016, and when Conceicao got his chance to step up for real, he acquitted himself quite well against Oscar Valdez.
The step up for Falcao won’t really be this fight, or at least it doesn’t look that way on paper. Volny is a 32-year-old Canadian with a very Canadian record; like Falcao, he’s never faced anyone remotely near being a contender. Unlike Falcao, he doesn’t have an Olympic silver medal to back his claim to legitimacy.
Another middleweight in action will be Kazakhstan’s Janibek Alimkhanuly (10-0, 6 KO), a 28-year-old southpaw who looked terrific in a June dismantling of former secondary titlist Rob Brant. He’ll be facing France’s Hassan N’Dam (38-5, 21 KO) in this one, a 37-year-old veteran and another former secondary titlist who is a good deal past his prime, but is at least back to fighting at his proper weight after pretty terrible showings at super middleweight against Callum Smith and Fedor Chudinov in 2019.
Opening the pay-per-view will be lightweight Raymond Muratalla (12-0, 10 KO), a 24-year-old from California who isn’t exactly rushing the other top young talents at 135, but has stood out pretty nicely on some Top Rank cards dating back to the summer of 2020. He’ll be facing Elias Damian Araujo (21-3, 8 KO), a vet from Argentina. The 34-year-old Araujo has been seen in losses to Yeis Gabriel Solano and Omar Juarez in the States, but he’s a guy who goes rounds, and Muratalla needs that kind of opponent if nothing else.
You don’t want to skip the early fights before the pay-per-view, either. There’s a useful featherweight bout between Isaac Dogboe (22-2, 15 KO) and Christopher Diaz (26-3, 16 KO) and that one is sort of must-win for both, and we’ll also see the always-entertaining Adam Lopez (15-3, 6 KO) in action against Adan Ochoa (12-2, 5 KO), which could be very fun. Along with those bouts, U.S. Olympian Delante “Tiger” Johnson will make his pro debut, and Karlos Balderas (10-1, 9 KO) returns against Julio Cortez (15-3, 11 KO) as Balderas looks to keep his comeback going after an upset loss at the end of 2019.
Right now, Terence Crawford is a very strong favorite against Shawn Porter for Saturday’s fight, with Crawford listed by DraftKings at -700 to Porter’s +500. For those who do think Porter may have the goods and the style, that’s going to look like a pretty tasty line.
- Esquiva Falcao -700 vs Patrice Volny +500
- Janibek Alimkhanuly -3000 vs Hassan N’Dam +1100
- Raymond Muratalla -2000 vs Elias Damian Araujo +1000
- Isaac Dogboe -165 vs Christopher Diaz +135
- Adam Lopez -1000 vs Adan Ochoa +650
How to Watch
ESPN+ will have the pay-per-view starting at 9 pm ET on Saturday, November 20. Early prelims will begin at 6 pm ET on the @ESPN app, with prelim bouts starting at 7 pm ET on ESPN+. Bad Left Hook will have full coverage for the card.