Terence Crawford overcame a pedestrian start to stunningly stop Kell Brook in four rounds to retain his WBO Welterweight title in some style as he re-affirmed his pound for pound credentials in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The contest headed the latest Top Rank bill inside the MGM Grand Bubble, as Crawford viciously made a fourth defence of his crown.
It was a feeling out opening, with the first round a battle of the jabs, shaded by the Sheffield man who landed with the shot to head and body.
Brook made a good start, remaining patient and looking for opportunities to counter Crawford, with the Nebraskan studying his challenger and looking for an opening, although he did suffer a nick above his right eye.
The third saw more urgency from ‘Bud’, as he started to work his way inside, but Brook was still having his successes, landing with a straight right during the session.
The fourth saw a breakthrough for the champion from nowhere.
A jarring right hand from Crawford drove the former IBF welterweight world champion tottering towards the ropes, and with them holding him up, referee Tony Weeks administered a count.
The shot had robbed Brook of his equilibrium, and on the resumption, another clubbing right hand followed by rights and lefts forced a stunning stoppage.
Brook questioned what had happened with his team in the aftermath, and rightfully so as he was ambushed without warning.
Talk quickly focused on Crawford’s next move, with his sights firmly set on a legend.
“I was trying to find my rhythm as he had good distance, I couldn’t get my shots off,” Crawford told ESPN post-fight.
“He was coming off three wins and had his confidence up, but he lost to the better man tonight.
“I’m looking to secure a [Manny] Pacquiao fight. We were close to agreeing a Pacquiao fight prior to this, but we had to put a halt to it due to COVID.
“We decided to go with the next available fighter at Welterweight, which was Brook.
“Now we’ll go back to the drawing board and try revisit that fight.”
— ProBoxingFans (@ProBoxingFans) November 15, 2020
Top Rank promoter, Bob Arum suggested that Crawford could beat Errol Spence Jr and Danny Garcia, who clash in December, in the same night, and insisted that Spence would swerve a meeting with Crawford.
He also confirmed that the money is there for a meeting with Pacquiao, with the Middle East taking an interest in holding the fight in 2021.
🇺🇸 SPENCE OR PACQUIAO 🔜🇵🇭
🤔 Who would you like to see ‘Bud’ face next❓
— ProBoxingFans (@ProBoxingFans) November 15, 2020
“This is boxing. I got caught with a shot I didn’t see, and the referee waved it off. I always go out on my shield, and the better man won tonight,” Brook told ESPN post-fight.
“He has good distance and fast hands. No one has ever done that to me before.
“I’m gutted because I was in great shape. I had success, but for some reason, I didn’t feel comfortable letting my hands pop, he obviously made me do that.”
Franco retains title amid head clash controversy
The eagerly-anticipated rematch between Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney was over before it started, as their second meeting ended in controversy, with Franco retaining his WBA Super Flyweight title via a no decision ruling.
Franco’s right eye was completely shut, ruled by referee Russell Mora to be as a result of an accidental headbutt, but there was little evidence to go on, and it was more likely caused by a stiff jab from the Australian instead.
Moloney began the fight with intent, throwing over 100 punches in the opening round, connecting with a quarter of them as he made a bright start.
The pair engaged in good back and forth action in round two, but Franco’s eye was clearly worsening, and the ringside doctor refused to allow the American to go out for the third round, meaning the fight was called off.
The ringside video officials were consulted, and they scoured video of the first round in search of the clash, and after much debate, and a near half hour delay, a no decision verdict was returned in what should have been a TKO victory for Moloney.
Greer Jr held to draw
Joshua Greer Jr suffered yet another setback, as he was held to a majority draw over eight rounds at Bantamweight by Edwin Rodriguez.
Greer, who had former WBO Featherweight world champion, Shakur Stevenson in his corner was coming off the back off a loss to Mike Plania in June, and he failed to rebound with a win.
Scores of 77-75 for Rodriguez was overruled by two judges tallying a 76-76 draw as the pair couldn’t be separated.
Tyler Howard took the spoils in his middleweight eight rounder with KeAndre Leatherwood.
Leatherwood was docked a point for holding the sixth, and counted in the final round, as an innocuous looking jab put him on he deck. The fight went to the cards, where Howard was declared the winner by scores of 77-74, 77-73 and 76-74.
Raymond Muratalla scored a third round stoppage of Luis Porozo at Lightweight, while at Featherweight, Duke Ragan knocked Sebastian Gutierrez down in the second on the way to a points victory over four.
At Bantamweight, Australia’s Vegas Larfield notched a third round stoppage win against Juan Alberto Flores.