LAS VEGAS — Terence Crawford delivered proof of the separation he believes that exists between him and every other welterweight Saturday night, becoming the first man to ever stop former two-time champion Shawn Porter.
In a compelling battle that saw Porter repeatedly pressure the unbeaten, three-division champion, Crawford finished Porter in the 10th round with a final combination of head blows.
Earlier in the 10th, Crawford opened the round with a power left hand to the neck that dropped Porter (31-4-1). He then unleashed a furious attack punctuated by a vicious right hand to Porter’s cheek and a final left hand to the top of the head that sent Porter down again.
The Akron, Ohio, challenger slammed his right fist to the canvas three times in anguish after losing three other title fights by narrow decisions. Upon standing, Porter saw his trainer-father, Kenny Porter, waving his arms that the fight was over, 1 minute, 21 seconds into the round.
“I didn’t expect that (stoppage by his father). We have an understanding,” Shawn Porter said.
Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) danced in the ring with his mother to Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody,” and celebrated words of validation from his beaten opponent.
“He’s the best out of everybody,” said Porter, a member of the welterweight-stacked Premier Boxing Champions stable that counts two-belt champion Errol Spence Jr., WBA champion Yordenis Ugas and former champions Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia.
Spence, recovering from retina surgery, was in attendance and shook his head as fans showered him with roars pressuring him to step into the ring with Crawford, too.
None of those PBC champions fought Crawford, who belongs to rival promoter Top Rank, until the World Boxing Organization mandated the match against top-ranked contender Porter.
Porter’s father added, “(Crawford) can do everything – speed, power, quickness, defense.”
In triumph, Crawford said he knew he’d finish Porter after the first knockdown, which provided some clear separation following narrow, combative action.
“I was a little stronger, using my angles to push him back,” Crawford said.
Told that Spence had seen everything, Crawford cracked, “He came to my fight. I thought he didn’t want to fight me. … You saw what I did.”
USA TODAY Sports+ provides round-by-round analysis of the fight:
An old-school fighter, Crawford entered Mandalay Bay to old-school LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad.” Porter dressed in a black robe to honor his favorite fighter, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, inscribed with “Marvelous” and “War.”
Porter charges and lands a right to the head. Crawford grins. Porter pressure is smart tactic, him knowing Crawford habitually starts slow. A Porter left lands to the face.
Crawford opens with a lightning jab. Porter surges again. Crawford switches to southpaw stance and lands two rights. But Porter backs Crawford with a harder right to the head. They go toe to toe, the crowd rising to its feet and Crawford got the better of it. Crawford ends the round with a hard left to the body.
Crawford remains southpaw. Porter sneaks in a right and lands a jab. They exchange punches. A hard right backs Crawford to the ropes. Porter light on his feet. He slips down. They exchange blows while holding at round’s end. The fans are loving it.
Score: 29-28 Porter
Porter full of fight here. He asked Crawford if this is what he wanted. But then Crawford hammers a left to the body and backs Porter with a left to the head to close an exchange. A hard Porter right sends Crawford to the ropes. A short Crawford right to the face is followed by a left to the body. And he sends Porter to a neutral corner with a power punch. Porter rallies back at the bell.
A good Porter right. Crawford lands a crisp left. They hold and brawl, each landing. Porter takes the initiative and unleashes a flurry on a covering Crawford. Porter unyielding. Crawford chasing an opening that remains elusive. Great action.
Score: 48-47 Porter
Crawford letting the left fly and it lands repeatedly. Porter hangs in there and charges, as Crawford retreats. A Crawford combination scores. Porter tries to corner Crawford, but misses a right. Crawford increasing activity. Porter stays inside and lands.
Porter hammers Crawford with a right to the head in Porter’s corner after some jostling. Crawford leans on right jab. It’s Porter’s pressure continuing, but Crawford shows himself the better boxer to close the round by landing a good left at the bell.
Score: 67-66 Crawford
Left-right by Crawford jars Porter’s jaw and the champion follows with an effective combination. Porter lands a left, but Crawford ties up his hands with his arms. Porter still pursues. Three clean rights to the head land by Porter. Crawford left to body.
Score: 77-75 Crawford
Porter can’t bear another close decision against him. It’s going to be telling to see how he responds in this tight affair. A Porter left lands. Porter to the body. They exchange head blows. Crawford left to the body, but he danced some, too.
Score: 86-85 Crawford
Crawford knocks down Porter on a left uppercut to start the round. Crawford unleashes his barrage, looking for the kill and a combination capped by a left to the head sends Porter down again. His corner, led by father Kenny Porter, calls it off. Terence Crawford retains his WBO welterweight belt by 10th-round technical knockout.