Far too often, fighters say that they can’t afford to lose when they, in fact, can afford to lose.
A loss isn’t the end for all fighters and the greatest have come back from significant losses in their career. All losses aren’t the same and there’s often an overreaction to how much a loss hurts the future of a fighter.
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Take, for instance, Canelo Alvarez vs. Caleb Plant. Plant was never expected to win the fight. Of course, he didn’t want to lose and the spoils go to the victor but the concept of a moral victory applied. He made a good showing of himself and will certainly be back, perhaps with more eyeballs on him now than before.
There are rarely fights that neither can afford to lose because of just how devastating to their future the loss would be.
Terence Crawford vs. Shawn Porter on Nov. 20 in Las Vegas is one of those fights.
Why Terence Crawford can’t afford to lose
If Terence Crawford loses to Shawn Porter, the allure is gone. And maybe he wasn’t as good as we thought he was.
Although he was named the Fighter of the Year by ESPN and the Boxing Writers Association of America all the way back in 2014 (and again by ESPN in 2017), the current WBO welterweight champion remains in pursuit of a signature win. The critics have had every right to have their questions because as great as Crawford has looked, his resume lacks that one opponent who is respected for his accomplishments and accolades.
Shawn Porter is that opponent.
A two-time welterweight champion that has given hell to every single opponent that he’s stepped into the ring with. With Manny Pacquiao retired, an argument can be made that Porter has the most impressive resume of every fighter in the 147-pound weight class. And if it wasn’t for Canelo, Porter might have the best resume in all of boxing. Although he hasn’t won all of his big fights, he has yet to be dominated by an opponent.
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He’s defeated Danny Garcia, Yordenis Ugas, Adrian Broner while losing narrow decisions to Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr. and Kell Brook. As a matter of fact, 11 of his last 13 opponents were world titleholders.
It doesn’t get much better than that. And a Crawford victory opens the door wide open for him to challenge Spence and the rest of the division in an attempt to become undisputed in two division. They won’t be able to deny him any longer unless they are scared. It’s just that simple.
With all of this being said, one would think that Crawford could afford to lose given Porter’s credentials. Well, that’s certainly not the case. He has hovered as one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters without a marquee name on his resume because he’s been that damn good inside of the squared circle.
But what he hasn’t been is tested by an opponent who has given the best 147-pounders 36 minutes of pressure.
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Crawford may have graduated with high honors from his pugilism undergraduate but now he has to prove that he’s Magna Cum Laude and get his master’s degree in the sweet science.
He has an opportunity to barely pass the test like Errol Spence and still be considered as one of the best in the world or he gets mowed down by Porter’s aggressive style and find himself possibly removed from the pound for pound list. Or, he destroys Porter and is undeniably the top dog of the division and once again in the conversation as the best fighter in the world.
Of even more significance is that he’ll be a free agent. It’s no secret that Top Rank has struggled to get him a marquee fight as opponents ranging from Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman and the recently retired Manny Pacquiao fought for a rival promotion. There’s an expectation that Crawford will see what’s on the other side of the street if he gets past Porter. But at 34 years of age and facing constant struggles to prove he’s a marketable star, a loss would be devastating to his future.
Bob Arum has spoken in less than flattering terms about Crawford while PBC will have proven their point that Crawford is not in the league of their current stable. Where does Crawford go if he loses all of his leverage?
He cannot afford to lose on Saturday night.
Why Shawn Porter can’t afford to lose
Boxing has been kind to Shawn Porter because Porter has been kind to the sport. He’s a fighter who could care less about politics and risks. He’ll fight anybody at any time. And if you step into the ring with Porter, it will be less fun for you than it is for him. He enjoys plowing into opponents and forcing them to fight his fight. It’s rare to find a Porter fight that lacked excitement and fans have had the opportunity to enjoy Porter’s fearlessness inside of the squared circle.
But, eventually, you have to win the big one.
Porter is a two-time world champion who is 4-3 in major world title bouts. He fell just a hair short against Keith Thurman, Kell Brook and Errol Spence Jr. And while all three of those fights were a round or two away from seeing Porter victorious, the fact remains that he lost. The record books won’t explain how close he was and future generations just won’t care. The stats are the stats.
The expectation is that Porter will give Crawford all he can handle but fail to get the job done. Oddsmakers have installed him as a significant underdog despite his in-ring accomplishments. This is a sign that many people think that his time is up. And if he ends up proving the naysayers right, the idea that Shawn Porter is one of the best welterweights in the world is likely over.
Simply put, if he loses, he goes from contender to gatekeeper. He becomes the guy that young fighters target as a name for their resume. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll find himself in a marquee fight as the A-side and will spend the rest of his career as an opponent. Jarron “Boots” Ennis and Vergil Ortiz will look to use Porter’s name as a stepping stone.
Nobody wants to be a stepping stone. But that’s how Porter will be viewed if he is unable to get the job done.
It’s also possible that his hall of fame credentials hinges entirely on this fight.
A victory finds Porter back in the mix and rematches with Yordenis Ugas and Errol Spence Jr. will have to be made. There will be a reason to believe that Porter is absolutely one of the best fighters in the world and he’ll certainly crash the pound for pound list with an exceptional performance.
But it all goes up in a cloud of smoke if he loses.
As you can see, the pendulum swing for both fighters is extreme. Neither can afford to lose because their respective futures rely so heavily on what happens inside of those 12 rounds. The stakes are high on both sides and that’s more than enough reason to watch what could be an incredible fight with the respective futures of both Crawford and Porter hanging in the balance.