Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford finally faces a welterweight worthy of his talents on Saturday night when he defends his 147lbs WBO strap against ‘Showtime’ Shawn Porter at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Crawford (37-0) is – by common consent – one of the sport’s premier pound-for-pound talents, but since unifying super lightweight and moving up to welter in 2018 he has faced lacklustre opposition.

Now 34, the Omaha man faces arguably the stiffest test of his career in the shape of Porter, who has ducked no one in a meritorious 31-3-1 career. Porter has only lost to Kell Brook. Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr, and all three of those fights were close-run affairs.

Crawford and Porter were born within a month of each other in 1987, and whichever of them prevails on Saturday will be in pole position to face WBC and IBF champion Spence Jr in a blockbuster unification in 2022, presuming the Texan fully recovers from the retinal tear to his left eye that forced his withdrawal from a planned date with Manny Pacquiao in August.

Will Crawford finally gain the victory against a marquee welter he has long craved, or will the seemingly irrepressible Porter upset the odds?

Boxing Social’s intrepid band of writers attempt to predict the outcome…

I’m with the majority here in assuming Crawford extends his unbeaten run, but I believe Porter will prove the stiffest test of his career. Porter – to my memory – has never been beaten up or completely outclassed, and he always shows up in shape, with a game plan. I think Crawford’s angles and spite will separate the pair, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s just a couple of rounds between them on the judges’ scorecards. A great fight – maybe edging us closer to the big one? – Craig Scott

Every Porter fight against the best in the welterweight division looks roughly the same: Porter has success, smothers his own work but puts his opponent under constant pressure. His bouts against Spence, Garcia, Thurman, Brook, Alexander and even Broner were all close on the cards. Logic dictates that the Crawford fight will likely be similar, with ‘Bud’ winning by razor thin unanimous decision or on a split. However, I feel Crawford can make a statement by stopping Porter in the second half of the fight. Crawford has waited a long time for a meaningful bout at 147lbs, now he has it, I think he will make the most of the opportunity. – John Angus MacDonald

Porter’s tactics are well known and have served him reasonably well. Pressure, volume and some of the rough stuff. I’m curious to see how Crawford copes with and responds to the latter. If Crawford handles it early then I think he can comprehensively beat his challenger. The champion is such a clever and ruthless fighter and this is the time to show the world he is a level above a worthy challenger like Porter. ‘Showtime’ moments on occasion but ‘Bud’ wiser for the majority and will win a decision. – Shaun Brown

Recent big fights seem to have passed off without any major scoring controversy, so the pessimistic part of my brain leans towards Porter being given a semi-scandalous split decision victory after a messy fight that fails to ignite. My reasons for scenting an upset lately rest on the fact that Crawford has never fully convinced me at welterweight and that Porter has more big fight experience than Bud, even if he seems to often be edged out in the big ones. However, I’m trying to stay positive, so my official pick is for Crawford to finally come of age at 147 and surgically dissect the ever game Porter via becoming the first man to stop him. – Luke G. Williams