Terence Crawford may not have had the biggest 2019, the big fights we want to see failing to materialize, yet the unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant signed off the year with a most enjoyable and exciting fight last night. Stopping a game Egidijus Kavaliasuskas (Mean Machine) in the ninth-round to retain his WBO welterweight title, 32 year old Crawford did not have things all his own way.
Crawford, arguably in a real attempt to make the fight more exciting (he’s that good, he can fight in such a way, to please the fans, should he wish to do so), took more shots than we have grown accustomed to seeing the slick switch-hitter take. It looked, for a brief spell, as though these, ‘let’s have a fight’ tactics had backfired on “Bud” – in the third-round, when the champ was forced to eat a big right hand. Downed but having slipped according to the third man in the ring, Crawford may well have been dazed, at least for a second or two.
Mean Machine, now 21-1-1(17) had success early on in the fight, this third session being his best, but then Crawford took over. Closing the show in style in the ninth, his uppercut a thing of beauty, Crawford, 36-0(27) got the KO he said afterwards he wanted to give his fans. It’s a little bit ironic perhaps, that as in his other most exciting fight, a ninth-round stoppage win over Yuriorkis Gamboa back in 2014, Crawford was buzzed before getting the big win. So what next for Crawford?
Earlier in the week, Crawford actually spoke of going up to middleweight, assuring us he wasn’t “playing.” That talk has since gone quiet, so who knows? Promoter Bob Arum, perhaps jumping the gun in a big way, said even before last night’s fun fight that it will be Shawn Porter next for the man from Omaha. While Errol Spence continues to heal and rest following his nasty car smash, Porter is arguably the best, most attractive foe out there for Crawford.
Porter has never been truly, clearly beaten (many fans feeling “Showtime” deserved the decision in his war with Keith Thurman, and a few thinking the same after Porter’s thriller with Spence) so from that standpoint alone it would be interesting to see how Crawford would be able to handle the relentless pressure and aggression Porter brings.
But assuming he does get this fight next, and assuming he wins it: what then? Will Crawford ever get the massive super-fights his talents so clearly deserve? We’d better hope so.