They went down to the wire, but the representatives for WBO welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford and former two-time titleholder Shawn Porter agreed to terms on Tuesday morning, setting the stage for a highly significant fight.
Under terms of the deal, Top Rank, Crawford’s longtime promoter, bought out the Porter side and will promote the event, which will headline an ESPN pay-per-view card on Nov. 20 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Top Rank president Todd duBoef told World Boxing News.
“I think everybody has been looking forward to good fights with Terence in the welterweight division, and this is a terrific one,” duBoef said. “This will be a fight that will test both of them, and that’s what makes it such a great fight – when you have two great fighters in a competitive match.”
The bout was set to be put up for a purse bid at the WBO offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, with representatives already on site for the procedure, including a rep from Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, even though it does not promote either boxer.
However, hours before the purse bid – which would have opened the fight to any WBO-registered promoter to win rights to the bout with the highest offer – Top Rank and TGB Promotions, Porter’s promoter, which handles most Premier Boxing Champions events, closed the deal they had been working on for the past couple of weeks.
It was two weeks ago when PBC approached Top Rank about seeking an extension to the purse bid, which the WBO had originally scheduled for Sept. 2.
The WBO granted the extension, and duBoef and PBC’s Bruce Binkow spearheaded the negotiations, which made steady progress, but the deal still was not done by Monday night. So, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti flew from New Jersey to Puerto Rico to be in place for the bid, and TGB attorney Phil Weiss was also on hand in case the bid took place. Had the bids been unsealed, the split would have been 60 percent to Crawford and 40 percent to Porter, a longtime friend of Crawford’s.
In the end, Top Rank offered enough to entice the Porter side to make a deal and avoid the bid.
“I paid them in relation to what I’d bid,” said duBoef, although the financial particulars were not disclosed. “Everybody usually waits until the last minute with purse bids, but it made sense to make a deal.”
Both sides were pleased to have a big fight in place, especially Crawford’s, because as talented as he is, the three-division titleholder has yet to have the opportunity to face an elite welterweight and has faced growing criticism because of it. Now he has a top opponent to fight.
“I’m happy for Terence and Team Crawford,” Brian McIntyre, Crawford’s manager, and trainer told World Boxing News. “Now, Terence will be able to shut the doubters down about him not being a top welterweight.”
Said Tim Smith of PBC: “We’re happy for Shawn, and we wish him the best. I’m sure he will perform as well as we think he will.”
Moretti said he hoped the deal would get done but that he had to make the trip to Puerto Rico just in case it didn’t.
“We’ve been working hard on the deal for the last couple of days, but when we weren’t there yet, I left (Monday) night at 8. I had asked Todd if we were done yet, and he said we weren’t, so I came down here. Todd and Binkow were talking last night, and then they spoke (Tuesday) morning again, and everyone came to an agreement on the final numbers.
“It’s clearly Terence Crawford’s toughest fight at welterweight and maybe the toughest fight of his entire career. He’s fought other good fighters, but I think Porter is his toughest opponent. Porter has a really impressive resume, but Crawford may be the best welterweight he’s ever fought.”
Moretti said his trip was not wasted even though there was no purse bid.
“The purse bid was canceled, not the tee time – 2 p.m.,” Moretti said.
Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), 33, of Omaha, Nebraska, long one of boxing’s elite pound-for-pound best, has won world titles in three weight classes — lightweight, undisputed junior welterweight, and welterweight. But the fight with Porter, which will be Crawford’s fifth title defense, will be his first against a top 147-pounder since winning the title from Jeff Horn by one-sided ninth-round knockout in June 2018. Crawford’s four defenses, all by one-sided knockout, have come against Jose Benavidez Jr., Egidijus Kavaliauskas, and the faded Amir Khan and Kell Brook.
Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs), 33, of Las Vegas, saw his second title reign end when he lost his WBC belt by title by split decision to Errol Spence Jr. in a highly competitive and action-packed unification fight in September 2019. Porter rebounded with a shutout 12-round decision over Sebastian Formella in August 2020 and has not fought since.
When he faces Crawford, Porter will add yet another top name to an impressive resume that includes wins over Danny Garcia, Yordenis Ugas, Andre Berto, and Adrian Broner with close losses to Spence, Keith Thurman, and a prime Brook.