For all the talk about who Terence Crawford isn't fighting while sitting on the wrong side of boxing's network and promotional divide, the unbeaten WBO welterweight champion does a great job of reminding just how great he is each time he steps into the ring.
Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) overcame a slow start by making the calculated adjustment to move southpaw. From there, he went on to dismantle former 147-pound titleholder Kell Brook on Saturday in a fourth-round TKO inside the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Although Brook (39-3, 27 KOs) looked fantastic on the scales Friday in his first return to welterweight since losing his IBF title in 2017 and looked sharp off the start behind his jab, Crawford's precise counter punching and nasty ability to finish opponents when hurt turned out to be the difference.
"I was just trying to gauge the distance and I was trying to find my rhythm in between getting my distance together," Crawford said. "That's why it was so competitive early, I couldn't get my shots off."
Although Crawford flirted with moving to southpaw in each of the opening two rounds, he clearly lost both by not throwing enough in return. Typically a slow starter, Crawford gained enough information he needed to make the key adjustment, which was moving lefty on a full-time basis in Round 3 and effectively taking away the Brook jab that had been the foundation of his early success.
"I just stepped forward a little and tried to throw a little more punches but not too much," Crawford said. "Then I caught him a couple of times."
Crawford hurt Brook in Round 4 with a surprising counter right hand that was half hook and jab, which caused him to stagger into the ropes. Crawford followed up with a clean left hook before referee Tony Weeks jumped in to rule a knockdown and separate them.
After the restart, Crawford uncorked a three-punch combination that ended with two left hands, which forced Weeks to rescue Brook on his feet at 1:14.
"This is boxing. I obviously got caught with a shot I didn't see and the referee waved it off," Brook said. "That hasn't happened to me before. I always said that if I am going to lose, I'm going out on my shield. The referee saw that I couldn't continue and the fight is over. I don't like to lose on an injury, I would rather go out on my shield and I did tonight.
"[Crawford] has got good distance and fast hands. He has a good eye to land his shot. Never in my career, nobody has ever done that to me, not even in sparring. I got caught with a shot I didn't see and the fight is over. Nobody could have got me in better condition. I felt great."
Whether or not the victory leads Crawford to finally step in against an active and elite fellow champion at 147 pounds remains to be seen. When asked what needs to happen for him to finally face off against unbeaten unified champion Errol Spence Jr., who takes on Danny Garcia on Dec. 5, Crawford looked over at the direction of his Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum with a look that suggests his patience is running thin.
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"Spence and Garcia are fighting and if they really want a big pay-per-view, I'll put Terence Crawford in with both of them, one at a time, and he beats both of them in the same night," Arum said. "He is far and away the best welterweight in the world. He goes back to the great welterweights like Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns. He would've been competitive with them. The welterweights around now are not competitive with Terence Crawford."
"Errol Spence will try to avoid Terence Crawford as long as he can because he knows he can't beat Terence Crawford. You saw the performance tonight. He will take out Errol Spence in about the same number of rounds that he took out Kell Brook."
Instead, Crawford admitted he would prefer a fight against WBA champion Manny Pacquiao and revealed that he was deep in discussion for one in the Middle East until talks fell apart.
"I'm looking to secure a Pacquiao fight," Crawford said. "We were close to securing the fight prior to this one but being that the COVID was getting out of hand, the fans couldn't attend the fight and we had to put a halt to it. Now, we are going to go back to the drawing board and try to revisit that fight."
The 33-year-old Crawford improved to 5-0 since moving up to welterweight in 2018 with all five coming by knockout.
In the co-main event, controversy erupted as Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney battled it out in a rematch for the WBA super flyweight title. Moloney appeared to injure Franco with a punch in the second round that caused severe swelling around Franco's right eye. So much so that the referee called off the fight because the eye had swollen shut. However, after a nearly 30-minute instant replay review by both Robert Byrd and commission executive director Bob Bennett, the ruling, which was originally called a TKO win for Moloney, was over turned to a no contest after officials believed they saw multiple headbutts from Moloney lead to the swelling around Franco's eye. All replays shown on the broadcast appeared to show a straight jab into the eye to cause the damage.
CBS Sports was with you throughout the entire way on Saturday, so. be sure to follow along with the live results and highlights below.
Crawford vs. Brook card, results
- Terence Crawford (c) def. Kell Brook via fourth-round TKO
- Joshua Franco (c) vs. Andrew Moloney ruled a no decision due to an accidental head butt in Round 2
Crawford vs. Brook scorecard, live coverage