Over the past three years, Terence Crawford has slowly carved out his spot on the sports mythical pound-for-pound list. Night after night, fight after fight he answered every challenge. With notable names such as Jeff Horn, Amir Khan, and Yuriorkis Gamboa in his rearview mirror, the time has come to show and prove on a greater stage. Enter Shawn Porter! The rugged, blue-collar veteran that has seen it all and done it all. While he doesn’t sit atop the famed welterweight division, it should be noted that he has faced the best, and passed a few of those test. For Porter, a Crawford victory would be a rebirth and an eventual Hall-of-Fame ticket. For Crawford, it would mean a chance to make his argument as the sports top talent. With only hours remaining until they square off, we take a closer look:
TERENCE CRAWFORD – KEYS TO VICTORY
Keys to victory for Terence Crawford start and perhaps end with nerves and patience. We know he has the skill level. What we don’t know is how he handles the pressure of a significant pay-per-view telecast in a leading role. An underground whisper throughout fight week has centered around the fact that Crawford has been relatively quiet during his time in front of the press, leaving most responses for his team and trainer. Even for a man of few words, this is very questionable. How does that translate to the ring? When Porter goes rogue and gets rough, does Crawford know when to wrap up? Does he know how to escape from the ropes? Does he know when to take a standing eight-count? The physical element comes easy, for Bud. Tonight, his true key to victory will lie solely between the ears!
SHAWN PORTER – KEYS TO VICTORY
For Porter, the keys to victory won’t be as simple. It’s no secret that Crawford enters the ring as the better pure boxer of the two. How does he overcome that? Stay true to his identity! He’s never going to beat Crawford by trying to outbox Crawford. Ring generalship is arguably the greatest deciding factor in a mega-fight like this. The best way to seize that battle for Porter is to go with what got him here. Crawford said he will be the first to defeat Porter the way he wants to defeat him, rather than playing his game. Truth is, Porter has all the tools necessary to kill that plan. He’ll need to start fast and furious from the first bell, working the body early, preparing to kill late! Crawford doesn’t have much experience with true elite, full-sized welterweights. Porter’s best chance is to baptize-by-fire, and avoid his thunder!
- LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 19: WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford (L) and Shawn Porter (R) pose during the weigh-in at Islander Ballroom at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino on November 19, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
FOUR TO EXPLORE (CRITICAL GAME-CHANGERS TO WATCH)
QUOTE TO NOTE (CRAWFORD) – Among the few words offered by Terence Crawford this week came a very unexpected nugget. When asked how the fight will unfold, Crawford was quoted as saying (verbatim): “if I can take his punch, it’s going to be a long night, because [for me] that’s when the fight starts”. Very, very interesting tidbit, and potentially a glimpse into an inherent fear stemming from the fact that he hasn’t truly faced a pure, in-his-prime welterweight until now. We’ve seen Crawford buzzed by a few opponents, but he always recovered well. Does this change against a very underrated puncher who’s dedicated to the body with relentless pressure?
QUOTE TO NOTE (PORTER) – Shawn Porter was quoted this week as saying that he doesn’t “want to be the Dan Marino of Boxing…..going to the Hall of Fame without that one defining victory to state his claim” (paraphrased). Although he did get the nod over Danny Garcia and has victories in his rearview over guys such as Ugas, Broner, and Malignaggi, Crawford represents a class virtually on his own. Does the pressure of sun-setting career force Porter to put himself in harms way? TIED UP OR SHUT DOWN? – Errol Spence Jr. adopted the heavyweight habit of clinching/tying up Shawn Porter as very few other tactics worked when he got in close. Crawford has rarely used this option, preferring instead to land his laser punches to prevent opponents from getting that close. Does he adopt the Spence strategy or test the waters in his attempt to tame Porter?
DELAY OF GAME: In an interesting sequence, it was revealed this week that Crawford turned down two previous opportunities to face Porter. This rumor had been swirling around for quite some time, but when pressed directly during press week, there was no response or denial by Team Crawford. This unanswered question leads to many others. Did Arum sweeten the pot to cash out his big chip? Was there pressure stemming from his uninspiring resume at welterweight? What does Crawford have to gain now that he was afraid to lose before? And how much pressure does that add for him to make sure he scores?
Terence Crawford will enter the ring tonight as the favorite. His spot on the mythical P4P list is well documented, but how did he achieve it? True welterweight victories on his resume? None. Top 3 elite welterweight talent on his resume? None. Signature victory in a compelling “Fight of the Year” type of battle? None. The beauty about tonight is that both men get a chance to finally close the chapter on that question. Crawford has the talent and seemingly the destiny. Porter has the experience but not quite the legacy. This is the quintessential, epic display of Will vs Skill. When the final bell sounds, my money says the hand raised will belong to the “Will”. Why? Because I believe his strong experience has also given him more than enough skills!
SHAWN PORTER – TKO11
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at 954.770.9807, email@example.com, Facebook, and Instagram. You can read his weekly columns here on Boxing247.com)