Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Crawford-Porter Preview

 As 2021 begins to wind down, one of the bigger fights remaining on the Boxing schedule is on the horizon as undefeated three-division world champion Terence Crawford, current holder of the WBO Welterweight world championship will defend his crown against former two-time Welterweight world champion Shawn Porter on Saturday, November 20th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. The fight, which will headline a pay-per-view card that can be seen exclusively on ESPN+ in the United States brings together two of the top fighters in the division and is frankly one of the better fights that could be made currently in the sport.


For Terence Crawford, a fighter who has won world titles from the 135lb. Lightweight division to the 147lb. Welterweight division, this fight represents something that he has been wanting for some time. An opportunity to face one of the elite fighters in the Welterweight division. Why would an undefeated three-division world champion be struggling as Crawford has to secure marquee fights? The short answer is due to the business elements of the sport in that rival promoters choose more often than not to not work together to bring fights like this to fruition. While some might argue that the only reason this fight is taking place is due to the fact that Shawn Porter, a fighter long aligned with the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of promoters and to be more specific his manager Al Haymon is the current WBO number one contender in the Welterweight division and thus it was a necessity for him to negotiate with Crawford’s promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. in order to secure his mandated title shot.


Although the PBC and Top Rank have done business periodically, most notably in two of the three encounters between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, this will not be a co-production of competing networks and will take place exclusively on a Top Rank promoted card and broadcast platform through ESPN. It should be no secret to longtime readers or those who have read my work recently that I am no fan of potential fights not being made due to rival promoters refusing to work together for reasons including but not limited to the exclusivity of their broadcast agreements with different networks that are involved the sport among other reasons. Even though yours truly stands by his criticism of both the PBC model as well as fights being delayed because of business interests rather than what is good for the sport and the fighters involved, this is one fight that I am happy to see taking place at an appropriate time with both fighters in their primes.


As for the fight itself, this will be a clash between two boxer/punchers who can box as well as score knockouts should an opportunity arise. In thinking of how this fight might be fought, I decided to do something that I have done for practically my entire life, study fight films. While there are similarities between the two fighters, I believe that the challenger Porter will likely be the more aggressive out of the gate. Although this strategy has proven successful in many of his fights and even had success in bouts where he came out on the losing end such as his bout with Errol Spence in September 2019, one aspect of Porter’s offense that I feel might work against him against a fighter like Crawford is he tends to lunge forward when he throws punches. This can indeed prove effective against fighters who may not be prepared for such tactics, but against a fighter like Terence Crawford, who is a very skilled counter puncher this could turn out to be a flaw for Porter that Crawford can take advantage of.


While both fighters have a mix of hand speed and punching power, Crawford is a fighter that can box quite effectively from the outside using his jab to keep an opponent at distance and set up combinations where an opponent will find it difficult to get offense off consistently, particularly opponents that Crawford will have a height and reach advantage over. In this case, Crawford will have a one inch height advantage over Porter and nearly five inches in reach. It is logical to think that the champion will try to establish distance between himself and Porter early on and attempt to keep the combat at a distance that will favor him likely through the use of his jab as well as periodically switching between an orthodox and southpaw stance, something that has proven to be quite effective for him throughout his career. The key for Porter in my eyes will be whether he will be able to force Crawford into a fight, in short, whether he can turn this into more of a toe to toe battle as opposed to a tactical Boxing match.


Despite the similarities between the two in both hand speed and punching power, the subtle differences between the two such as height and reach may prove to be the difference in this fight should Porter be unable to get on the inside of Crawford’s reach and force a physical and grueling fight on him as he was able to do for periods against Errol Spence. Even though Porter lost that fight, which was a unification bout for the IBF and WBC world championships in the division and subsequently ended his second reign as a world champion, it was a very close and competitive fight due largely to the success he was able to have by forcing the fight on the inside. While this is not necessarily a similar fight in terms of styles, Porter must be able to get on the inside and find a way to make Crawford uncomfortable. At the same time, he needs to be weary of lunging in recklessly where Crawford may be able to counter him with a punch or punches that he may not see coming.


Although the similarities between two fighters give an appearance that this may be an even fight, as 2022 nears, this could be the start of an era where fights are made based on what is good for the sport and not on the various business interests that often serve as a detriment to Boxing’s growth and overall progress. No matter who wins on Saturday night between Crawford and Porter, this observer hopes that the era where what is good for the sport and the fans that support it in good times and bad is on the horizon. If Crawford-Porter turns out to be the competitive fight an interesting clash of styles that it appears it might be on paper, it will be a win for Boxing.


“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”


Crawford vs. Porter takes place on Saturday, November 20th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. The fight can be seen exclusively in the United States on  ESPN+ Pay-Per-View for $69.99  beginning at 7PM ET/4PM PT with Preliminary bouts with the main card beginning at 10PM ET/7PM PT. ESPN+ the digital subscription sports streaming network of ESPN is available through the ESPN app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices/platforms/Smart TVs. To subscribe to ESPN+ and order the card please visit: Existing ESPN+ subscribers can order either by clicking the link and logging in or through the ESPN app.


In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the card can be seen on Sky Sports Main Event beginning at 2AM (Sunday, November 21st Local UK Time). For more information about Sky Sports including availability and channel number in your area please visit: Check your local listings internationally.


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