Terence Crawford returns after a near year layoff, to defend his WBO Welterweight title against a man surely on his last roll of the dice in Sheffield’s former world champion, Kell Brook inside the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas this Saturday night.
Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) and Brook (39-2, 27 KOs) headline Top Rank’s non pay-per-view main event live on ESPN and on Premier Sports in the UK.
Crawford is in the top three of most pound-for-pound lists, and for good reason. The Nebraskan hasn’t had to hear the final bell in over four years, with his last seven opponents failing to hear the final bell.
‘Bud’ built a strong 22-0 record, before travelling to Glasgow to rip Ricky Burns’ WBO Lightweight title away from the Scot on the scorecards in March 2014.
After two defences, he moved up to ten stone, and took the vacant WBO Super Lightweight title with a sixth round stoppage of Thomas Dulorme.
Two routine defences followed, before he added the WBC strap to his collection with a clear win on the cards against Ukrainian hard man, Viktor Postol, in July 2016.
Another couple of straightforward wins against John Molina Jr (TKO8) and Felix Diaz (RTD10) paved the way for a further unification, and Crawford became undisputed champion, completing the set by removing the WBA (Super) and IBF straps from Julius Indongo, as ‘Bud’ hammered the Namibian in just three rounds.
That cleaned up the division, and next, Crawford thrashed Jeff Horn in nine rounds to become a three-weight world champion, taking the Australian’s WBO Welterweight title.
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👊 CRAWFORD RESPONDS TO BROOK ‘QUIT’ REMARK . 🥊 @tbudcrawford tells @specialkellbrook to “live up to his words” after the Brit suggested he would make the WBO Welterweight champion quit on Saturday night! 💥 . 📺 FULL INTERVIEW ON PRO BOXING FANS YOUTUBE CHANNEL! . #Boxing #CrawfordBrook
The 33-year-old has remained at the weight ever since, and made three defences of his crown. Jose Benavidez Jr was stopped in the final round in October 2018, and six months later, Amir Khan found the heat too much, dropped in the opener, before withdrawing from battle in six after an accidental low blow.
Crawford’s last outing came in December 2019, where Egidijus Kavaliauskas was down three times on the way to a ninth round stoppage win for the champion.
Kell Brook will have his work firmly cut out in Las Vegas. The ‘Special One’ has become a victim of his own bravery in honesty, after a promising start to his career.
Brook finally got his world title chance and grabbed it with both hands, upsetting Shawn Porter to win the IBF Welterweight title with a majority decision win on away soil in California in 2014.
The defences though were tedious and frustrating for both the Brit and the fans, as he made three defences in a year against Jo Jo Dan (RTD4) Frankie Gavin (TKO6) and Kevin Bizier (TKO2).
The 34-year-old aspired to achieve greatness, and when Chris Eubank Jr pulled out of a meeting with Middleweight monster, Gennady Golovkin in September 2016, in came Brook at late notice to challenge for the WBC, WBA (Super) and IBO crowns at 160 pounds.
Brook took the fight to ‘GGG’ but the weighty punches of the Kazakh eventually took their toll, as a fractured eye socket forced Brook’s then trainer, Dominic Ingle, to throw in the towel in the fifth.
The Brit boiled back down to Welterweight, and then lost his IBF belt in a thriller with Errol Spence Jr at Bramball Lane in May 2017, again starting well, but this time fracturing the opposite eye socket in an eleventh round knockout loss.
The rebuild has come at Super Welterweight, but the performances have been unlike what we have been used to from ‘The Special One’. After knocking out Sergey Rabchenko in March 2018, Brook split with Ingle, and looked flatter than ever under John Fewkes in defeating tough Aussie, Michael Zerafa at the end of the year.
He went back to Ingle for his last assignment, a seventh round knockout of Mark DeLuca in February at the Sheffield Arena.
There has been another training change ahead of the Crawford fight, with Ingle unable to travel, Carlos Formento will be the man in the corner in Vegas. Brook has also distanced from Eddie Hearn and Sky Sports for this bout. The Crawford contest is a huge task for the Wincobank Gym product, and defeat could spell the end of a decorated career.
Prediction: Brook is in fantastic shape ahead of the most important fight of his career, but it’s hard to bet against the champion here, with Crawford in superb form and hardly troubled during his near 12 year pro career.
I think Brook will go for broke early, and try to make Crawford feel his power, but this ultimately will prove his downfall, and I expect ‘Bud’ to catch up at the halfway mark, and stop a tiring Brook on his feet somewhere after the sixth round.
A rematch of a behind closed doors thriller heads the undercard, as Joshua Franco defends the WBA Super Flyweight title that he won in June from Andrew Moloney, who he has a sequel with here.
Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs) dropped Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs) in the eleventh round of their original meeting, and this proved pivotal, as Franco took a decision win by just a point on two cards. Moloney hadn’t previously tasted defeat, and although Franco was firm underdog.
Prediction: Franco performed well, and can repeat the trick here by scoring another points win.