This Saturday night the sport of boxing will see a clash of two prime talents when Shawn Porter (31-3-1, 17KO’s) squares off against Terence Crawford (37-0, 28KO’s) on ESPN PPV. Although Crawford enters the fight as the odds-on favorite, Porter brings experience and to a lesser degree, stronger career results, holding victories over several credible welterweights who were in their prime. As we inch closer to this showdown, we take a look at the Official Scouting Report:
Terence Crawford has slowly become a main staple in the higher echelon of the sport. A mean streak that’s unrivaled, along with a very methodical, cerebral approach to his work displays a higher ring IQ than most. A man of few words, in the ring Crawford is simply a deliberately patient executioner. He may start slow, but you know at some point he’s going to collect the data needed to commence his execution. The timing of that execution has everything to do with his fear of risk or danger. Without fail, every time he gets buzzed or feels threatened by a punch landed is the exact same moment in which his execution of that opponent begins. Few have lasted more than three rounds beyond the point in which they were able to get Crawford’s attention. That killer instinct will be tested against a cagey veteran like Shawn Porter.
Shawn Porter is the official “utility man” of the sport. Everything he lacks in skill, he makes up for in heart. Relentless from the first bell, his conditioning allows him to match whatever his opponent brings to the ring. Many fans try to label Porter as a reckless windmill. Reality says this couldn’t be further from the truth. Experience against the welterweight elite has given Porter the ability to adapt to nearly anything thrown his way. In one effort we saw him give Errol Spence Jr. all he could handle in an all-out slug fest; in another, we saw him trail halfway through the fight against slick Cuban Yordenis Ugas, yet still end up outlanding him in total punches (144-128), and out-jabbing him 65-49. A feat no other welterweight has accomplished, against a man no other elite, prime welterweight has dared to face. Those statistics tell the true tale. This truth makes him as dangerous as anyone in the division.
WINNER: Tie (Crawford has shown flashes of greatness against inferior competition. Porter has shown greater diversity against more elite competition)
Terence Crawford has had such a potent offense that we’ve never really seen him in a fight where a true need for defense was tested. Each time he was buzzed, he was able to use that offense to quickly escape. Crawford uses distance to protect himself more than actual skill, but there were a few from his past that were brave enough to test those waters and inflict a little punishment, including Gamboa, Kavliauskus, and Postol. What we haven’t seen is how well he handles an opponent with enough pop to stun him, and enough heart to continue that assault despite standing in harm’s way. This is a critical question his resume has never answered. It’s also a question Porter has the toughness to answer.
Shawn Porter isn’t a fighter who relies much on his defense. He has a chin and he trusts that chin. From Broner, to Brook, to Errol Spence Jr., many fighters have been able to land flash knockdowns and thunderous shots against Porter. In the end, those shots did very little to change the results and even less to affect his approach. When you have a chin and heart that have been tested like Porter’s, it literally renders defense meaningless. Crawford has a distinct edge here. Considering that we’ve never seen him tested on this level, it’s an edge he’ll need.
Terence Crawford’s mean streak and cerebral nature make him a joy to watch. There’s literally nothing to dislike about his execution. Unfortunately, where the questions start for Crawford is where they end for Porter. Crawford is viewed as the better fighter, but the questions surrounding him have been previously answered by Porter. Can he take punishment and keep fighting in the heat of the battle in a mega fight with an elite opponent? Does the pressure to perform in a mega fight against an elite opponent become too much? Does he have the survival instincts/skills to understand when to wrap-up or simply take a knee; rather than trying to be brave and digging his own grave? As solid as he is, these are all questions we simply can’t answer about Crawford.
A second intangible – which could turn out to be the most significant of all – is Crawford’s limited activity rate in deep waters. Crawford has only gone 12 rounds twice in the past five years and three times in the past seven years! Knockout stoppages are great for the highlight reel, but at the elite level where everyone has a chin, it takes far more to get the win! Let’s unpack that a little more. The last two times Crawford went the distance we saw two very different tales. Against the somewhat injured Jose Benavidez Jr. (knee), Crawford threw 579 punches. Against a more dangerous Postol, despite him (Postol) throwing significantly fewer punches than Benavidez, the added risk resulted in Crawford only throwing 388 total punches. This could serve as a glimpse into what we can expect when Crawford tangles with a blue collared, high volume puncher like Shawn Porter.
All these details tell us this is a toss-up fight waiting to happen. Stay tuned for Friday’s Keys to Victories, Four to Explore, and Official Prediction.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at 954.770.9807, firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, or Instagram)