WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KO) made the fifth defense of his belt Saturday and in many ways it was a textbook example of what makes Crawford who he is. Early in fights, he can lose rounds. Sometimes, Crawford might even look vulnerable.
It’s deceiving and for opponents it has to be frustrating. There is something different about Crawford in the ring, a mean streak that comes along only every so often in boxing. Someone will probably beat him eventually but it’s going to take going to a dark place to get there. Shawn Porter (31-4-1, 17 KO) brought a smart, measured approach to Crawford on Saturday and battled on at least even terms in the first six rounds.
It was the last of those rounds, the sixth, where Crawford really went to work. It wasn’t Crawford’s sharpest performance as a professional but it was efficient, patient, and conclusive. Crawford won rounds six, seven, and nine on all the official scorecards, with the eighth splitting 2-1 in Porter’s favor. A pair of knockdowns changed the fight for good in the tenth and Porter’s father/trainer halted the action.
There can be debate about the timing of the stoppage or Kenny Porter’s criticism of his son in post-fight comments. It doesn’t really matter. Crawford-Porter was in checkmate. So far, every Crawford fight ends in checkmate. Now we’re back to the place we never left, waiting for something that may never come.
Futures: Looking ahead, Crawford has more than one potential opponent but only one opponent everyone would salivate for. Would Crawford defending against Jr. welterweight champion Josh Taylor be an excellent fight? Yes. Is it Crawford versus WBC/IBF Errol Spence (27-0, 21 KO)? No. After three years in the division together it’s past time for Spence-Crawford. Will it happen? Crawford seemed ready to move on from promoter Top Rank based on comments at the post-fight press conference. That could clear a hurdle. Time will tell. Porter announced his retirement but boxing retirements also come down to time will tell.
If Porter is done, he’s had a fine career and faced a who’s who of his era at welterweight. Like he always has, Porter fought his heart out Saturday night. If he’s done, boxing was better because he was there.
The weekend started with a solid Friday night show.
Andrade Marches On
WBO middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade (31-0, 19 KO) is one of the most unique cases in recent memory. A hyped US Olympian with ample national television coverage early, HBO and Showtime appearances, and belts in two weight classes is still looking for a fight anyone will remember thirteen years into his career. It’s an example of how precious time can be. Andrade lost a lot of it and now it’s not on his side.
On paper, it shouldn’t have happened this way. Inactivity, lackluster outings, and questionable career choices were stumbling blocks before the last couple years where Andrade seems to really want more serious fare. The serious fare isn’t obliging. Andrade took care of business against an overwhelmed Jason Quigley but what will that mean?
Futures: While the DAZN broadcast made noise about a unification showdown with Jermall Charlo, the streaming service just aired Andrade’s top WBO contender, Jaime Munguia (38-0, 30 KO), a week ago and will stream a unification bout between Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KO, WBA) and Ryota Murata (16-2, 13 KO, WBA) before the year is out. One of those bouts should ostensibly be the easier fight to make but it feels like Golovkin-Munguia might be the direction. Andrade versus Charlo (32-0, 22 KO, WBC), the Golovkin-Murata winner, or Munguia would all be excellent fights. That was true before Quigley. Andrade’s chances of getting those fights is as cloudy a future as it was before Friday too.
WBC flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez (18-1, 14 KO) came off the floor to drop McWilliams Arroyo twice on the Andrade-Quigley undercard before a clash of heads cut the fight short prior to the third. Arroyo didn’t seem to want any more on Friday. Martinez showed again why he’s one of the more TV friendly fighters in the game at a time when flyweight has some forward motion again.
Futures: Both IBF titlist Sunny Edwards (16-0, 4 KO) and Martinez have voiced support for a unification showdown. It’s unclear if the WBC will order a rematch with Arroyo but the best case for the division would be a clear path to Edwards. With Japan’s WBO titlist Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17 KO) also recently debuting in the US, the profile of the division could be elevated in the next year if the right fights get made.
Akhmadaliev Holds Serve
Prior to Martinez-Arroyo, unified WBA/IBF titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev (10-0, 7 KO) made his second defense of his Jr. featherweight belts with a lopsided but not overly impressive decision over a tough Jose Velasquez. Akhmadaliev is only 27 and continuing to round out his pro game with most of the best in his division fighting recently on Showtime. Is there a big fight for him?
Futures: Before the year is out, barring a draw, the four major belts at 122 lbs. will belong to two men. Akhmadaliev will be one of them. The other will be the winner of Stephen Fulton-Brandon Figueroa. Who knows when there would be another chance to see a four-belt unification in the division? The window will be there in 2022. Alternately, Akhmadaliev may be well positioned to be the best option for bantamweight Naoya Inoue when he inevitably elects to chase a title in a fourth weight class.
One More Four Belt Option
Finally, kudos go to Jr. welterweight Kali Reis (19-7-1, 5 KO) and Jessica Camara (8-3) for putting on one hell of a show to kick off DAZN’s four Friday title bouts. Reis now holds the WBA and WBO belts with six wins in a row since a loss to Cecilia Braekhus at welterweight. Reis has fought as high as middleweight and seems to have found her sweet spot on the scale. With one more win, that sweet spot could be an undisputed top spot.
Futures: There is really only one fight to talk about for Reis. Reis-Camara was a piece of a Matchroom tournament to crown a queen. The deck is cleared for Reis to face WBC/IBF titlist Chantelle Cameron (15-0, 8 KO) next year. When there is a date, circle it.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.