In a rammed weekend pound-for-pounder Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford stole the show with an impressive stoppage of Shawn Porter at the Mandalay Bay Arena , Las Vegas. The southpaw stylist from Omaha, Nebraska retained his WBO ‘world’ welterweight title for the fifth time, cementing his impressive 38-0 (29 KO) record and a claim to be the finest in the sport.
Porter entered the contest full of fire and brimstone with a tribute to former legend Marvelous Marvin Hagler, but although his performance was competitive, it was not the ‘War’ as promised on his mouthpiece. As expected he took the fight to the champion, taking the first round and delivering some solid shots throughout, but in the end just couldn’t compete with Crawford’s superior boxing skills and dexterity. ‘Showtime’ Porter just couldn’t get inside the champion’s long southpaw jab to make an impact in the fight. Whilst many of the rounds were competitive with Porter taking his share, as the fight progressed the challenger ran out of gas and the result became inevitable.
The end came in the tenth when Crawford landed a spectacular left uppercut 20 seconds in, and though Porter rose to fight on, a strong combination punctuated by a devastating southpaw right dropped Porter heavily again. As he pounded the canvas in frustration, his father Kenny in his corner waved for the contest to stop and the referee obliged with the official stoppage recorded at 1:21 of the round.
This was an excellent performance by Crawford and whets the appetite for a contest with the watching Errol Spence Jr. who on witnessing the stoppage immediately left the arena. Post-fight Crawford said “You see what I did, compared to what he (Spence) did” referring to Spence’s last defence. On being asked what next, he replied “You know who I want, I’ve been calling him out”. Whether Spence takes the challenge is the question everyone is asking. If, and when it happens it should rank with the classic 147lb showdowns of yesteryear.
Porter dropped to 31-4-1 (17 KO’s) and announced his retirement on Sunday.
The expected highlight in the UK was the excellent BOXXER card at SSE Wembley Arena featuring a plethora of emerging stars. Main event saw Britain’s world ranked cruiserweight Richard Riakphore (13-0, 9 KO’s) defeat Nigerian Olanrewaju Durodola (36-9, 33 KO’s) by technical knockout after 36 seconds of the fifth round. The strong south Londoner Riakphore dominated the fight working of a textbook right jab and almost had his opponent in trouble at the end of the first. Durodola had an impressive record coming in having fought a number of leading contenders but Riakphore ‘came of age’ in the fight, in what was his first step up to world level.
The end came when the home fighter landed a great left hook at the start of the ninth which forced Dorodola to take an eight count and on the restart Riakphore was all over his opponent landing a succession of unanswered hooks before referee Victor Loughran stepped in. Riakphore captured the WBC ‘Silver’ title and with it a high ranking with that body.
Best fight of the night was the vacant British light-heavyweight title fight between Dan Azeez and Hosea Burton. Before a watching Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury, a cousin of Burton, the tall Manchester man was simply unable to keep at bay the relentless pursuit of Azeez. Stylistically, like an orthodox version of ‘Marvelous’ Marvin the Londoner Azeez leapt forward with a strong jab in Hagler’esque burgundy shorts and hooped socks, to follow up with a succession of body blows. This was the pattern of the fight as Azeez worked relentlessly to the long body of Burton, capturing him on the ropes and in the corner as much as possible. By the sixth Burton was shipping a lot of punishment and although firing back with some heavy shots, he was reeling at the end of the round after a strong body assault from Azeez.
The Londoner started the seventh quickly keeping on the pressure and landing a great left hook Burton was reeling again before the referee stepped in after 2:27. Azeez fell to his knees in ecstacy having gained the British title and with it the Lord Lonsdale belt.
He extended his record to 15-0 (10 KO’s) and joins a strong list of world ranked 175lb (12st,7lb) fighters in the UK. Future fights against either Lyndon Arthur, Anthony Yarde or Callum Johnson would be fantastic contests. The brave and talented Burton dropped to 26-3 (12 KO’s) and will come again.
In a packed card there were impressive wins for Hassan and Adam Azim (the former of the brothers making his debut), both by stoppage, Scottish heavyweight Nick Campbell and Mikael Lawal at cruiserweight. There were also notable wins by Albanian welterweight Florian Marku and female Olympian Natasha Jonas, both by clear points decisions. The BOXXER franchise goes from strength to strength in their new partnership with Sky Sports.
The weekend started with Demetrius Andrade (31-0, 19 KO’s) making a spectacular fifth defence of his WBO ‘world’ middleweight title against Jason Quigley (19-2, 14 KO’s). Irishman Quigley was outgunned from the opening bell, being dropped in the first and then floored three times in the second round before the contest was halted.
The much maligned Andrade made a statement to those who say he lacks power. When asked post-fight what this would do to his chances of securing a marquee fight with the other champions and names, he responded that it would likely cause them to ‘run’ further away now they see the power. Andrade deserves a bigger stage to showcase his skills and into his thirties needs to move fast.
If, the next few weekends can match this, then boxing is in a healthy state.