By Paul Magno | November 22, 2021

Did Terence Crawford make a career-defining statement with his tenth round stoppage of Shawn Porter Saturday night? Yes and No.

Yes, because he stopped a guy in Porter who had never been stopped before and who had a very deep, impressive body of work behind him, with names like Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Yordenis Ugas, and Paulie Malignaggi on his resume.

No, because many of us felt that Crawford’s statement about being a true elite player had been made long ago and we were not at all surprised by a performance like this one. 

The bout was predictably sloppy at times and very close right up until the two-knockdown final round, but never, at any point, did one get the feeling that Crawford had lost control or was in any real danger. You could almost see his mind working throughout the fight, figuring Porter out and getting the timing down. 

Crawford’s win was all the more impressive because Porter was fighting his fight and doing it well. It was just a matter of Crawford operating at a higher level. 

I guess the kinda funky stoppage needs to be talked about. Porter was dropped twice, but he was clear-headed and eager to continue. His father and trainer Kenny Porter, however, saw fit to throw in the towel anyway. 

This will be the kind of corner stoppage that feeds the psychoses of conspiracy theorists. You don’t often see a corner stop a fight when the bout is close and their fighter is clear-headed. 

In the post-fight interview, Kenny Porter said that his son had not prepared properly for the fight and that he stopped it to prevent what was to come. And, yeah, if we push all machismo out of our dark hearts and look at things logically, Crawford was likely to close the show or convince the ref to close the show. If not, a 10-7 tenth would’ve put Crawford too far ahead on the scorecards for Porter to overtake him, anyway. The path to victory for Porter had grown wafer-thin. 

Still, the stoppage gave off a bad/odd vibe to many. Some expressed a belief that Kenny Porter’s actions appeared to be grandstanding in nature and some have said that they saw Porter’s post-fight comments as throwing his son under the proverbial bus in front of the whole boxing world. 

Whatever the case, though, it was pretty obvious that Shawn Porter was going to lose that fight, with or without his father’s intervention. The only controversy should be a private Porter family one. 

Speaking of Shawn Porter, let’s give this guy all the respect he deserves for being THE welterweight who has shown himself willing to take on any challenge without a double-stuffed duffel bag full of business drama and personal hang-ups. 

Of his four defeats, all were close battles and all against top guys. Among his victories are names such as Danny Garcia, Yordenis Ugas, Andre Berto, Paulie Malignaggi, and Devon Alexander. There’s a strong case to be made for him in the Hall of Fame and, at 34 years of age, he’s not “done” or “finished” at all, although he may find it hard to get another big title fight in the immediate future against former opponents Spence, Ugas, and Crawford, who may not be all that eager to revisit the chaos he can bring. At the post-fight press conference, Porter announced his retirement, but everyone knows how few on-the-spot retirements stick in this sport. It wouldn’t be one bit of a surprise if, in a year’s time, he answers the call of young stud welterweight prospects Jaron Ennis or Vergil Ortiz Jr. or comes back to pick up a vacated 147 lb. belt. Time will tell.

And now, let’s get back to the main subject of Saturday’s show-- Terence Crawford.

The Omaha, Nebraska native’s contract with Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions is now done and he flat-out told the world-- with Arum nearby-- that he was moving forward with his career, looking to finally get the big fights he spent much of his physical prime NOT getting. 

If the much-anticipated title unification bout with WBC/IBF champ Errol Spence doesn’t happen, he’ll eventually get his shot at picking up another title or two as Spence maybe moves up in weight or as business/boardroom decisions create vacant titles. 

Expect Crawford to explore free agency ala Mikey Garcia. That may mean fighting on DAZN or under the PBC umbrella on a fight-by-fight basis. The big money will be there, despite Arum’s past laments about him being a hard-to-promote money-loser for his promotional company. The flexibility of free agency will make big fights infinitely easier to make and if the career-high $6 million payday he got for this Porter fight provides any lesson, it’s that bigger money goes hand-in-hand with bigger opposition.

At 34, Crawford may be on the downside of his prime, but, as we all saw on Saturday, he’s still very much an elite talent and has a legitimate claim to being no. 1 in the deep welterweight class. Seeing what he did to Porter and how he did it, there’s maybe only one welter out there-- Spence-- who can claim even footing with him. 

Crawford-Porter did not disappoint. Crawford and Porter, individually, did not disappoint, either. The undercard and the PPV price tag, though? Well, that’s a subject for another column. For now, let’s just celebrate the fighters for what they gave us and Crawford, specifically, for what he did. 

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