Written by Tré Berry III | 11/18/2021
Saturday evening will feature arguably the most anticipated Welterweight contest of the last 🗓️5 years – not solely just because of the abilities, and stature of both combatants, but also because there was a time where it looked damn near impossible to get ⛓️Top-Rank Promotions and ⛓️PBC on the same accord, to get one of PBC’s premiere Welterweights to go up against Top-Rank’s royal bargaining chip.
When the name 🇺🇸Shawn Porter (31-3-1, 17KO👊) comes up, it is synonymous with gladiator, as he is one of the sports Chief go-getters in terms of his tenacity, toughness, stamina, aggression, and the manner in which he approaches a fight, which is a callback to the days of the 📽️1980’s, where more fighters cut from that cloth operated during that era. It is for those reasons why Porter is universally appreciated throughout the pantheon of boxing fans, pundits, coaches, and even his opponents – pre-fight and certainly after.
The titlist coming into this contest is 🇺🇸Terence “Bud” Crawford (37-0-0, 28KO👊), who currently holds the WBO belt, and has some claim towards being worthy for the top P4P moniker. There was once a time where he wasn’t particularly looked at as a shoe-in towards becoming a vanguard of his era, even though he had shown flashes early on with subtle skills not often picked up, or processed by young fighters.
It was Terence’s unmatched work ethic in today’s fight game, and an even steeper inner drive to which propelled him to the status in which he currently holds today, as he snatched the reigns of his career, and forced his way into greatness, bypassing 📕books that had certain fighters in mind, inked towards them getting the promotional push to fill that seat.
Terence’s ambition was something that could not be denied, or held back, and the proof is in the pudding, as he sits as a former 2-division Lineal Champion, as well as an Undisputed World Champion in the Junior-Welterweight division.
Shawn Porter does not care about your accolades, your rep, or what you bring to the table in a sense – he simply wants to get in there, take you to uncomfortable 🌊waters in order to drown you, and that is a major piece towards why this fight has been so sought after. Two fighters that are as stubborn as you can find, who refuse to let up under the circumstances…for all fight fans alike, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Now, it is time for me to break down this match-up….. 🔎
TERENCE CRAWFORD’S GIFTS, AS WELL AS HIS MOST UNDERRATED SKILL TRAIT
If you’ve been following Combat Project long enough, then you know that we tend to refer to Terence Crawford as boxing’s 🔪Swiss-Army-Knife. He’s become what I call a Coaches dream in quite a few areas regarding fundamentals, and what could be transferred down towards aspiring boxers to get them going on the good foot with positive influence.
To be so versatile, by far the most important component to aid that versatility, and to put it into its proper use, is to have the high boxing 🧠IQ to match it – to be able to read a fighters tendencies, feeling the command of the moment, baiting your opponent by setting traps, taking command of the ring, leading, picking your spots to counter, and so-forth.
There are only a couple of other fighters in the world right now that can match his penchant towards taking all of these components, and tying it together into a performance, and those fighters are within lighter weight divisions.
Crawford is the best counter-puncher in the sport right now, and that probably more than anything, is what comes to thought first when unraveling the components of the Omaha, Nebraska fighter. Now it is because of every one of these components laid out, that one of his greatest attributes often gets lost in the mix. That…is his punching power.
His stoppage streak goes all the way back to 2016 to his bout with 🇺🇦Viktor Postol, but the effects of the power is far past what is cast on paper. Bud has a strong base, with very strong legs, and he arc’s all of his punches correctly. The leverage he is able to get behind his shots you can see sends a ripple effect through his opponents, especially when he sees you hurt and smells 🩸🦈blood in the water. Having the mean streak to match ultimately feels like the inevitable is coming for the opponent if he is able to take you to that point of no return.
SHAWN PORTERS STRENGTHS, AND HIS PENCHANT TO WILL HIS WAY THROUGH
Shawn Porter is a very aggressive individual, with an absurd level of physical strength to match his prowess as one looking to snatch your confidence away from you. While that is the main hook or spiel towards the M.O. of what he does, very much like Crawford, a couple of his strong traits tend to go less noticed…but his opponents are certainly aware.
Shawn is a very smart individual, and he’s the very 🖼️picture of what “there’s method to my madness” means, as he knows what step to take physically, how to get under your skin, how to time, and turn you whenever his back is touching the ropes, also how to get on the inside, and stay in your chest.
What also gets overlooked is a refined trait that he has added to his repertoire since the 🇺🇸Adrian Granados fight, and that is his ability to step back periodically, and box off of the backfoot, which gives him an advantage in the area of keeping his opponent off-balanced mentally, and second-guessing himself, rendering himself a step slow in the reflex department, before Shawn jumps in to bludgeon him.
Porter used to play 🏈Football (Running Back if I’m not mistaken), and they’re used to ducking down low to gain leverage in order to drive through tackles. Inside of the boxing ring, Shawn has taken that same concept, and is notorious for ducking up underneath punches, getting to the 🎯target, and staying low to swing away up close.
THE FIGHT BREAKDOWN, MY BELIEF AS TO HOW I THINK THIS BOUT WILL PAN OUT
I can’t see any way conceivable in which this fight will be rendered a dud in the entertainment aspect. They’re both stubborn, they both like to set the tone, and each loves to fire back immediately if something of note is landed upon them. Shawn Porter insists that he knows Bud better than most given their friendship that dates back to 🗓️13 years ago in the amateurs, and that he knows what 🔘buttons to press in order to get underneath Terence Crawford’s skin.
Porter has also revealed that dealing with the switch-hitting Bud, he will attempt to pounce on him either in mid-stance, or right when he makes his change, so that Crawford won’t have a chance to recalibrate the brain in order to function at optimal level, and taking punishment in the process.
Bud is mean, in fact, arguably the meanest guy in boxing when you factor in his level of control that he has over himself with that chip on his shoulder, which means that it cannot be taken advantage of. He’s also well aware that he’s going to have to go to the trenches with his friend, understanding that Shawn never stops coming with activity, and that there’s no time to be nice – these are two consummate professionals, with a great deal of goals that they are sought after.
📍📍Now, as far as weaknesses – Terence Crawford truthfully only has one, and that so happens to be…his defense. If you pay close enough attention, he uses his masterful countering ability as his true layer of defense, which masquerades his lack of head movement, and off arm placement. It has worked wonders, but only because he hasn’t fought a fighter with the specific 🧰tools necessary to take advantage of that.
To get to Bud in that regard, you have to incorporate multiple feints, then have the innate ability to counter the counterpuncher, make him commit to a mirage, then catch him midway through his initiation of the punch. Now Shawn Porter’s main drawback is that while he’s creative in his bulldozing style, he tends to muffle his own work often by darting in too close, and smothering his punches.
Porter is good for beating you up by banging you around with his shoulders, throwing his weight on you, and hit anywhere, arms, chest, head, torso. No he is not 🇵🇦Roberto Duran of course (who happens to be in my opinion, the greatest INSIDE tactician to ever put on 🥊🥊gloves), but Shawn could take a page from his book and understand that taking a half-step back sometimes, and getting the range needed would work wonders for his leverage, making him that much more dangerous a fighter – but that is not in Shawn’s arsenal.
Porter also tends to loop his punches a bit too much for his own good, which is a 🚩red flag for someone who is able to piece you often up the middle with precision, getting his shots there before his travels to where it is intended.
SOME HISTORICAL FIGHT COMPARISONS
This fight actually makes me think of a great fight that never materialized, for whatever reasons that their paths did not cross. That fight is between two legends, 🥇🇺🇸Sugar Ray Leonard, and 🇺🇸Aaron Pryor, which could’ve happened at Welterweight. Now when you think about both of their base styles, what they liked to do, and the style clash, it would probably look like a variation of what is about to take place.
Shawn Porter of course would fill the Pryor role of sorts as the pressure fighter that seldom allows you to 💨breathe, and Bud to fill the role of Ray Leonard as a multi-dimensional threat. Now, to name a tangible fight that this one may remind me of, I’ll take a trip to the Middleweight division, when 🇺🇸Marvin Hagler fought 🇮🇹Vito Antuofermo for the rights to be called Undisputed Middleweight World Champion in 1980.
Shawn Porter personally 🗣️told me in 2017 that Marvin Hagler was his favorite fighter of all time…but ironically for this comparison, he would fit the role of Antuofermo. As for Crawford, there is no fighter currently in today’s boxing that reminds me more of Marvin Hagler than he does (I always say that Crawford is a Marvin Hagler & 🇺🇸Thomas Hearns hybrid).
Those that watched the fight know that Antuofermo, like he was normally accustomed to, brought the fight to Marvin, especially down the stretch of their 15 round contest. Marvin, being able to do everything and fight any type of style pertaining to the tactics used against him, largely fought off of the backfoot, trying to time Vito, and doing all that he could to try and keep him at bay for the bulk of the contest.
NOW TO REVEAL MY PICK FOR THIS FIGHT
|| PREDICTION – It’s time for me to run down the full checklist. While both Crawford and Porter have faster hand speed than the Hagler/Antuofermo comparison that I had previously made, both fighters are about equation in that area with having some of the speediest hands in the current version of the Welterweight division.
Despite Porter physically being an actual 🐂bull that started his career at Super-Middleweight, Crawford (despite what the lean frame tells your eyes) is preposterously strong in his own right. Both are top-3 when it comes to raw physical strength at 147 lbs., and if that is Porters most overwhelming trait, then it has to be noted that Crawford isn’t far behind at all in that distinction.
Porter’s style would naturally insinuate that he hits harder, but it is actually Crawford who has better raw 💥punching power, and can deliver that power in a multitude of different ways. Each combatant can take a punch with the best of them at their weight category, and each is about an intense as the other…but Crawford’s focus stands alone between the two.
I’d say their 🧠fighting IQ’s are very comparable, and we will see them dig deep in their bag of tricks during the intense action that I anticipate. Bud of course has the natural advantage of being an even-handed switch hitter (one who is more dangerous as a southpaw, despite being naturally right handed), and he possesses the better eyes, which helps him to identify and process quicker what is working, and what isn’t.
Do you see what’s going on here❓ As good, and dependable that Shawn Porter is, it’s Terence Crawford that holds the advantage in every category, and in areas where he doesn’t reign superior in, he ranks close enough to where Porter can’t overwhelm him with his strongest traits.
The only trait that Porter is demonstratively 📈superior in over Bud, is his volume punching, that he uses to overwhelm most of his opponents…but Terence Crawford’s masterful ability to counterpunch with the check-hook, and cross from distance (in either stance) will surely cut Porters penchant to throw in droves of punches in half, as he will certainly find out early about Crawford’s punching power by catching hard enough counters coming in, to where he is forced to respect the incoming threat, and will have to second-guess his motives throughout the rest of the fight.
So even with Porter having an advantage in volume striking, it will be cut in 🥥half, to where he won’t be able to hold his advantage at all, evening out with Crawford in the fight and being held in check regarding what he wants to do. Porter in his career has seldom met a counterpuncher who was able to take advantage of his style, and he certainly never met one with this level of power that Crawford possesses, so he will find it difficult for him to do what he wants to do.
Now with everything laid out on the table….it is for these reasons that I envision either a 117-111 type of decision for Crawford to retain his WBO title belt, or Crawford actually being the first to knock Porter out, doing so in the late rounds of the contest. Despite Porter’s high level to take a punch – if there is anybody that can 🧊ice him, it would be someone like Terence, who is looking to make a statement.
( TERENCE CRAWFORD WINS VIA 10TH ROUND TKO…OR BY 117-111 UNANIMOUS DECISION TO DEFEND HIS WBO TITLE)