Nati Harnik/Associated Press
Terence Crawford won the most high-profile bout of his career Saturday night, but he will likely be left with a bitter taste because he didn’t get to end it on his terms.
After Crawford hit Amir Khan (33-5, 20 KOs) with an accidental low blow in the sixth round, Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter called for the end of the fight, handing Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) a controversial technical knockout win at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Snowden and ESPN’s Steve Kim commented on the finish:
JE Snowden @JESnowden
I don’t understand what just happened and I’ve watched a lot of boxing matches. Like, hella boxing matches.
Steve Kim @StevESPNKim
In my view, Khan hastened the inevitable, he knew he wasn’t winning this and perhaps saved himself a beating. This fight was only going one way… #boxing #CrawfordKhan
Up until the anti-climactic ending, the night belonged to Crawford, who was putting on a show. He displayed power, speed, precision and amazing footwork with breathtaking ease.
After the bout, Crawford called out IBF world welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., per SportingNews.com’s Andreas Hale:
Andreas Hale @AndreasHale
“There’s only one fight they are talking about and that’s Spence. Whenever they want it, I’m here.” – @terencecrawford
The pride of Omaha, Nebraska, did what he usually does against an overmatched opponent: He finds out their weaknesses and ruthlessly exploits them.
It didn’t take long for Crawford’s power to get to Khan, who has a suspect chin. Late in the first round, Crawford stunned the contender with a chopping counter right hand followed by a left hook for good measure.
Ring‘s Ryan Songalia commented on the hit:
Ryan Songalia @ryansongalia
Down goes Khan from a right hand! This was always going to be this way, Bud Crawford is not someone to take lightly #CrawfordKhan
Another crushing hit wobbled Khan at the end of the opening frame, but the bell saved him the embarrassment of a first-round exit.
Khan steadied himself over the next couple of rounds, working the jab and staying out of range. After starting out in an orthodox stance, Crawford switched to southpaw in the third round. He was a bit less effective in that stance at first but eventually found the rhythm.
Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times noted Khan might’ve hurt his hand in the early rounds:
Lance Pugmire @latimespugmire
Khan acting like his right hand’s hurt. He absorbed some punishing blows to body in the 4th, and trails 40-35 from what I see…
Slipping Khan’s jab and countering with the lead right proved to be a simple but effective strategy for Crawford. He did well to keep Khan guessing, digging at the body before going to the head.
Hale loved what Crawford was doing:
Andreas Hale @AndreasHale
Counter right from Crawford, Khan is hurt. Crawford is destroying his body. All bad. Nasty Bud is coming out to play.
Khan had a couple of positive moments at the end of the fifth, timing a left hook and landing a couple of jabs flush to the chin. But those positive flashes were few and far between. Everything was trending in Crawford’s direction, and he was well on his way toward another easy win before the low blow happened.
As Crawford’s been considered perhaps the best pound-for-pound boxer in the sport for a few years, it’s taken a bit longer than it should have for the 31-year-old to become a pay-per-view headliner. He’s proved time and again he can solve whatever challenge comes his way. He simply needs greater obstacles. If his next fight isn’t against the likes of Spence, Keith Thurman or perhaps even Manny Pacquiao, it will be a disappointment.