Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter will put their friendship aside this weekend when they collide for the WBO welterweight championship.
"Bud" Crawford is making the fifth defence of his world title and it is his toughest fight to date since moving up to 147lbs. The American - a former unified lightweight and undisputed junior welterweight king - is regarded as one of boxing's Pound for Pound best.
Due to the pandemic, we have not seen Crawford in action as much as we would've liked but this is a fight we can get excited for. The champion is rightfully favourite but Porter is no fool and will fancy his chances of delivering an upset in Las Vegas due to the ring inactivity of Crawford.
A two-time world champion with victories of Paulie Malignaggi, Adrien Broner, Yordenis Ugas and Danny Garcia, Porter has just three defeats on his record. Kell Brook inflicted the first loss of his career although it was a Brook at his peak, compared to the Brook who Crawford destroyed inside four rounds last year.
The other two defeats were to Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr. Porter has never been stopped, and he will bring something that previous opponents haven't given Crawford - and that's a test.
While he has the experience of championship fights, Porter also knows how to win and he isn't entering this fight just to take part. "Showtime" must be aggressive in this fight if he is to win but whether he has the stamina to do it over 12 rounds is another thing.
Porter has just one knockout win in seven world title fights so it is unlikely that he will produce a KO unless Crawford suffers an injury or gets hit by a punch from the Gods.div itemscope itemtype="https://schema.org/VideoObject">
Spence is a fighter who has been linked to a showdown with Crawford for years. Why has the fight never been made you may ask?
To simplify it (kind of), Spence is contracted to Premier Boxing Champions and Crawford is represented by Top Rank. PBC stream their fights on FOX and Showtime while Top Rank's coverage is exclusive to ESPN and ESPN+.
Yes, Porter is a PBC fighter but he accepted the purse he was offered as mandatory challenger to Crawford's WBO crown on a Top Rank show. The problem with Crawford and Spence is that both are undefeated, both are champions and both want more money. Then there is a battle for TV rights for it in America.
However, Crawford is in the final fight of his Top Rank contract and according to Teddy Atlas, he will not renew his contract leaving it wide open for Al Haymon's PBC to snap Crawford up. If Atlas is right, then it is likely we will finally see a unification battle between Crawford and Spence in 2022.
For it to happen, Crawford must come through this weekend unscathed. And we believe he will.
The 34-year-old has translated his power from his days as a lightweight up to welterweight, something similar what Manny Pacquiao did during his career.
"Bud" has power, great technical ability, a high ring IQ and is an incredible switch-hitter. Expect Crawford to make a statement of intent and stop Porter for the first time in his professional career. It could happen during rounds 7-9 but due to Porter's quality and bravery in the ring, we expect him to drag it out into the championship rounds before the referee halts proceedings.