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Shawn Porter: More Than Just An Opponent

By: Hector Franco

After three long years that felt like an eternity, three-division and current WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) finally has a fight that is worth looking forward to. 

He will defend his WBO 147-pound title against former two-time welterweight champion Shawn “Showtime” Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs). 

The fight will take place on November 20th at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas and will be shown exclusively on ESPN+ PPV. 

When Crawford first entered the welterweight division in 2018, he immediately won a title, scoring a dominant ninth-round stoppage over Australia’s Jeff Horn to win the WBO championship. 

Since then, Crawford’s career has plateaued. 

He has been relegated to the standard one or two fights a year against solid, but nondescript opponents. 

The three-division champion is ranked by all legitimate boxing publications as one of the top three fighters in the world pound-for-pound. He was the best lightweight in the world when he plied his trade in that weight class. When he moved up to the junior welterweight division, he became the division’s first undisputed champion in the four-belt era, joining just a handful of fighters who have earned that distinction. 

Crawford’s two forays in the pay-per-view market have been unsuccessful from a box office perspective.  

The first PPV he headlined was in 2016 in a junior welterweight unification clash with Viktor Postol that garnered only 50,000 buys. His second headlining appearance on PPV performed better when he faced Amir Khan in 2019, earning 125,000 buys. 

Fans and pundits have been anticipating a match between Crawford and unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. since joining the welterweight ranks.

 But, multiple factors have kept that fight from taking place, ranging from both men being promoted by rival promoters, being unable to come to financial agreements during negotiations, and Spence being in a life-threatening car crash in the fall of 2019. 

Most recently, Spence pulled out of a mega-fight with the now-retired Manny Pacquiao when it was discovered that he suffered a retinal tear in his left eye. While Spence is likely to return, it’s unclear how much of his former self will be retained. 

Crawford was left in the same position he has been in since arriving at welterweight, waiting on the sidelines for the right opponent. 

Enter Shawn Porter. 

“I’ve been calling out the top welterweights since I moved up to 147 in 2018, and I’m excited that Shawn stepped up,” stated Crawford. “This fight will bring out the best in me and showcase parts of my game that the world hasn’t seen yet. On November 20, I will silence my doubters and prove that I am the best welterweight in the world.”

Earlier this year, when the WBO ordered Crawford to enter into negotiations with his mandatory challenger Porter, many were still skeptical if the fight would take place. 

A purse bid was ordered; however, the two sides were able to come to an agreement saving fans from witnessing another fight head into oblivion in what has been, at times, a disappointing 2021. 

Porter will not only represent Crawford’s most significant test at welterweight, but arguably of his entire career. 

At lightweight, Crawford’s breakout performance came against the then-undefeated, but undersized Yuriorkis Gamboa. The Nebraska native’s other preeminent victory came against Postol in 2016, who was also undefeated at the time. 

Crawford’s opponents have ranged from average to good, but he hasn’t faced an opponent as of yet that would be considered elite. 

At welterweight, Porter has been considered one of the foremost fighters since first winning the IBF title from Devon Alexander in 2013. 

For almost a decade, Porter has participated in some of the most crucial fights in the division. Some of his most notable wins came against Paulie Malignaggi, Adrien Broner, Andre Berto, and a razor-close decision over current WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas. 

The Ohio fighter’s most prevalent victory came against former two-division champion Danny Garcia to win the WBC welterweight title in 2018. 

While Porter is highly regarded, he is best known for coming short in his most important fights. 

In the second defense of his IBF title, he lost a clear decision to the United Kingdom’s Kell Brook in 2014. When he faced off against the now virtually retired Keith Thurman in 2016, he lost a close unanimous decision for the Florida fighters WBA welterweight title. 

Most recently, he dropped a decision to Errol Spence in 2019 with a knockdown in the 11th round, ultimately positioning the fight in Spence’s favor. 

The Thurman and Spence fights were great bouts that numerous fans and some media members had Porter winning. However, as of now, he hasn’t been able to put himself over the hump to truly establish himself as the absolute best welterweight. 

Although more successful as a two-time champion, Porter draws comparisons to a fighter of a few generations ago. 

In the 1990s, the welterweight division was among the best in boxing, featuring fighters such as Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Pernell Whitaker, and Ike Quartey. 

One fighter that could very well have won a title in today’s era, but failed to in the 1990s was Detroit’s Oba Carr (54-6-1, 31 KOs). 

He was a product of Emanuel Steward’s Kronk Gym and was in the unfortunate position of being in the welterweight division with some of the best in the history of the weight class. 

Carr challenged for a welterweight title three times in his career and came up short each time.

In 1994, on one of Don King’s famous stacked cards that featured Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Ricardo Lopez, and the famous Jorge Castro-John David Jackson bout, Carr challenged Felix Trinidad for his IBF welterweight title. 

After flooring Trinidad in the second round, he ultimately succumbed to the Puerto Rican’s pressure and was stopped in the eighth round after being knocked down twice. 

The closest Carr came to winning a title was against Ike Quartey in 1996, where he lost a majority decision in a fight where both fighters were deducted points at Madison Square Garden. 

The final title opportunity for Carr was in 1999 when he took on Oscar De La Hoya for the WBC welterweight title. In this fight, Carr was dropped in the first round and was stopped in the eleventh round after being knocked down again. 

In all three of Carr’s title shots, he was competitive and at times had his moments where it seemed that the fight could go his way. 

Similar to Porter in today’s landscape, Carr was a rite of passage for welterweights to prove themselves as elite. 

However, against Crawford, Porter will get the chance to prove that he is more than just a pseudo-initiation into elite status at welterweight. 

“All I know is greatness, and I don’t think greatness comes with taking steps back,” Porter said on his podcast The Porter Way. “No disrespect to any of the other guys that are ranked two or three through ten. But, to me, the step forward is Terence Crawford. And that’s why I wanted this fight.” 

For Porter, the fight with Crawford is a turning point in his career. A loss will leave him with the same reputation as being a tough fight for the best at welterweight. 

A victory, however, would reshape his legacy. 

Porter would be right at the top of the division and be rated as one of the best fighters in the world, pound-for-pound. 

A win may one day get him voted into the International Boxing Hall-of-Fame. It would further the fact that in boxing and combat sports in general, an undefeated record isn’t the quintessential element when rating a fighter. 

“I’ve wanted this fight for a long time, and now my patience has paid off,” said Porter. “Throughout my career, I’ve taken on the best and proven myself as a man who gives 100 percent in everything I do. Terence Crawford is a great, versatile fighter who is very athletic, just like myself.

 “We are the two best welterweights in the world, and on November 20, we get a chance to prove who is the best. Fight fans can expect a great show that night and, with this victory, I will cement myself as the best welterweight of this era.”

Crawford-Porter is a fight that can deliver on all levels. 

Crawford will look to prove that he should be looked at as the best fighter in the world. Porter will attempt to be recognized as more than just an opponent.

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