WBO welterweight king Terence Crawford will finally face the marquee opponent he has been craving when he meets former WBC and IBF champion Shawn Porter at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on November 20.
Like most boxing fans, two-weight champion turned analyst Timothy Bradley can’t wait for the clash between elite 147-pounders. Bradley believes Omaha’s Crawford is a special fighter, but that the no nonsense Porter can push him all the way.
Since moving up to 147lbs, three-division champion Crawford has been winning on auto-pilot against solid but unspectacular opposition, with most leading welters fighting for Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions and ‘Bud’ represented by Top Rank on the other side of the promotional divide.
But when the WBO ordered Crawford to face Cleveland’s respected Porter and an agreement was reached between the parties, the title holder received the big name opposition needed to rubber stamp his 147lbs credentials. Bradley feels Porter’s tenacity and hustle can cause Porter issues.
“It’s going to be extremely difficult to outbox Crawford. He’s taller, rangier than Porter. He can box off his back foot, is great in transition – he really is a complete fighter,” Bradley told ESPN.com. “The only other thing that I can see Porter doing is being Shawn Porter: changing up his rhythm, surprising Crawford when Crawford is relaxing or trying to rest. Be aggressive, be relentless, give Crawford something he has never seen before inside the ring during his professional career. Show him you are a guy who’s going to be tenacious, a guy who’s gonna try every single minute of every round.
“Porter will be in his face, keeping the pressure on. He’ll also be cerebral, change rhythms and bang down to the body. Taking that approach will show his strength on the inside and prevent Crawford from getting into his own rhythm. Crawford is a rhythm type of fighter, and once he starts getting comfortable, he’s tough to deal with. But if you never let Crawford get going and you always throw him off his game, then you can give him problems, there’s no doubt about it.
“But the risk has to be calculated, and I think that Porter understands that. Porter has a really good chin and is someone who doesn’t shy away from the action. He has the mindset that he’s willing to take your best to give his best. He kind of reminds me of myself in that aspect of having that determination, that will to win. That’s something that you can’t teach.
“Porter wants to be the best, so it’s hard to stop a guy like that. If you don’t hurt Porter or knock him out, it’s going to be a tough out for you. The fact that Crawford is double-fisted, the fact that he can switch things up and the fact that he’s fantastic in transition, it’s not like Porter is going to be able to rush in on Crawford, because Crawford can throw his combination moving backwards and still have punching power and catch Porter on the way in.
“It’s going to be a very difficult fight for both guys. Both have their advantages, Porter being a really busy guy and Crawford showing his impeccable timing. For me, Crawford is a once-in-a-generation talent. His skill set and his mindset is what makes him who he is, and it’s gonna be tough to beat him, but Porter brings the style that could do just that.”