WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford successfully made his third world title defense with a ninth round technical knockout victory over Lithuanian mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas in their scheduled 12 round main event bout at the Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In departure to his previous title defense, Crawford encountered some difficulties against his enigmatic challenger who lived up to his moniker as the Mean Machine in the first five rounds, particularly in the third where the rugged Lithuanian nearly scored a knockdown after a flurry which the referee quizzically ruled a slip.
For the first time since his title winning effort against Jeff Horn, Crawford was faced against an opponent who was not only slightly bigger physically but also powerful and determined to take the fight to him. Prior to the bout, Kavaliauskas vowed to pin Crawford his first pro defeat— and by knockout.
But in the succeeding rounds, it became apparent that Kavaliauskas was out of his depth as Crawford started to assert himself after gauging that he could take and time the challenger’s punches and that the Lithuanian could not fight on his back foot.
Nor move laterally.
Indeed, Kavaliauskas built his previous 21-0, 17 KOs record and reputation fighting solely on forward gear that claimed the scalps of mostly third tier opposition since moving to the US East Coast.
One of the more prominent name in his ledger was Ray Robinson, who was at best a lowly ranked contender and the namesake of boxing greatest fighter even held him to draw which of course the Lithuanian did not agree to, for justiable reason.
The Lithuanian, in fairness also held wins over former world titlists David Avanesyan and Juan Carlos Abreau but those two are leagues away from the current welterweight front runners.
Crawford proceeded to take control of the fight by the sixth round as he baffled the Lithuanian with his switch hitting and began to bang him in the body.
After downing the Kavaliauskas in the seventh round, Crawford continued to pressure his opponent and eventually, following a rather one sided eighth round, he forced the referee to stop the carnage after sending the Lithuanian crashing to the canvas two more times in the ninth round, the last by a clubbing right.
Kavaliauskas suffered his first career defeat.
Crawford who many considered as the best pound for pound and top welterweight fighter today and among the best switch hitters ever thus registered his fourth successive stoppage victory since moving up to the 147 lbs division. Overall, he is now 36-0 with 27 KOs.
Crawford’ s supporters could sing paeans in praise and make claims to his worth as a fighter and world titlist but the fact remains there are no substantial proofs to back them up.
At least as far as the welterweights are concerned.
Aside from Horn, Crawford has only faced and defeated Jose Benavidez Jr, Amir Khan and now, Kavaliauskas, none of whom are currently in the Ring top ten welterweight ranking.
None of the fighters he has faced at 147 remotely approximate the caliber of the likes of Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and a top condition Manny Pacquiao.
Certainly, there should be a limit to the extent Crawford could claim credit to beating Jeff Horn as the man who beat Manny Pacquiao.
A Manny Pacquiao who was not even physically prepared, mentally focused and psychologically motivated for that fight which Arum virtually forced upon him after torpedoing his UAE bout against Khan in 2017.
The Pacquiao of today, in fact could very well claim to being the leading welterweight fighter and champion with the sidelining of Errol Spence.
With recent past wins over the likes of Timothy Bradley and Jessie Vargas as well as Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner and especially Keith Thurman who until that loss had the best resume among the then leading welterweights.