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Terence Crawford has his belt and choices to make

An uppercut to Terence Crawford’s left dropped Shawn Porter early in the 10th round of their World Boxing title fight in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Moments later, a concussion right hook to Porter’s temple triggered a streak that ended with Porter on the canvas and his trainer and father, Kenny Porter, motioning for the referee to stop the fight.

The technical knockout put a definitive end to a tense, rough and dramatic fight between top welterweights. Crawford, now 38-0, is widely recognized as one of the top two fighters in the division, alongside Errol Spence Jr. In defeating Porter, Crawford defended his belt and clinched a signing victory over a performer. ‘elite. Entering the final phase of the fight, Porter, now 31-4-1, still had a chance to win a decision, but Crawford erased it with a superb display of power.

But then came a twist.

Crawford, 34, has long wanted to fight Spence, but boxing business has kept him from happening. Premier Boxing Champions manages Spence, while Crawford is signed to Top Rank. The two teams rarely cooperate, but Crawford’s title defense against Porter, a PBC client, seemed to indicate hope the two sides would collaborate on future fights.

Yet after the fight, Crawford, who is now a free agent, according to a person who was not authorized to discuss his contract publicly, spoke of his relationship with Top Rank and its chairman, Bob Arum, in the past tense, saying hint at a change in the balance of promotional power.

“Bob couldn’t secure the fight against Spence when I was with him,” Crawford said at the post-fight press conference with a silent Arum beside him. “How can he make it safe when I’m not with him?” “

Porter, a 34-year-old former champion, won the first round on all three scorecards by putting pressure on Crawford. The fight started in earnest in Round 2, when Porter landed a forehand to Crawford’s face, leading Crawford into the first of several rallies.

By round 7, Porter’s braids, tightly tied into cornrows, were fraying. He landed another overhand right. Crawford responded with a left hand to the face and finished the round landing a jab and a left.

On the eighth lap, Crawford’s breathing grew heavier. He unleashed long punches to keep Porter at bay. Porter still landed a series of rights.

Crawford closed the ninth round with a dull left uppercut, and in the 10th he landed a similar punch to score the first knockdown. When Porter got off a second time, his father stopped the fight. The elder Porter, who oversaw Shawn Porter’s training, hinted his son hadn’t prepared well for Crawford, but gave him credit anyway.

“All things combined, he can do it,” Kenny Porter said of Crawford. “Attack, defense, change of sides. Speed, speed and power.

According to CompuBox, Crawford landed 98 of 328 punches, while Porter connected on 79 of 347. While Porter connected on two more punches, Crawford’s statistical advantage came mainly from his jab – he won 33, compared to 12 for Porter. Crawford led 86-85 on two official scorecards and 87-84 on the third.

Porter, whose four career losses came in competitive fights against welterweight champions, has announced his retirement following the loss to Crawford.

“I gave a lot to this sport,” Porter said. “After you’ve fought everyone at the top, what else do you do?” I don’t want to be a keeper.

And Crawford, who has won nine straight fights by knockout, said it was too early to choose his options.

“We’re going to go to the drawing board and see what’s best for Terence Crawford,” he said.

He didn’t seem inclined to re-sign with Top Rank, but it is possible.

Crawford could continue as a free agent, leveraging his status and undefeated record to score one-off fights in boxing’s promotional landscape. Saúl Álvarez used this formula to become the undisputed super middleweight champion, winning belts in fights with England-based promoter Matchroom Boxing, then jumping to PBC to defeat Caleb Plant and unify the title.

Or Crawford could join PBC, which manages Spence, who holds the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles, and Yordenis Ugas, the World Boxing Association champion.

“You already know who I want,” Crawford said after the fight.

He was talking about Spence, the undefeated Dallas fighter, who recovered from a bad car crash in 2019 to defeat Danny Garcia last year, and who underwent surgery in August to repair a torn retina. Spence watched the fight from the ring and, moments after the referee declared Crawford the winner, was pictured shaking his head and leaving the arena.

PBC’s Instagram account on Fox posted a photo illustration of Spence and Crawford clashing in the ring. Spence then shared the post on his Instagram Stories feed.

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