NEW YORK -- Terence Crawford, like Vasiliy Lomachenko last Saturday, made his case over who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Lomachenko, a three-division world champion, and current unified lightweight world titleholder, scored a fourth-round knockout of Anthony Crolla in a one-sided destruction at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Crawford knocked out former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan in the sixth round on Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden, but the ending was an anti-climatic one at the very least.
The bout ended in the sixth round after Khan was unable to continue after Crawford landed an accidental low blow. Khan's trainer Virgil Hunter opted to stop the fight after his fighter told him that he was unable to move forward.
"Now I know why he's the best fighter in the world," Khan said of Crawford.
Despite the disappointing outcome, Crawford was dominating the fight up to that point and seemed like he was closing in on a knockout victory anyway.
"I could tell I was breaking him down. It was just a matter of time," Crawford said. "I just took my time. I was disappointed the corner stopped the fight in that manner, but Virgil is a great coach, and he was looking out for his fighter. I know he didn't want to go out like that."
Crawford, who is usually a slow starter, floored Khan in the opening round with a left hand. Khan rose to his feet before the count of 10, but his legs were wobbly. Crawford stepped back on the gas pedal and nearly sent Khan to the canvas again as the round came to its conclusion.
Crawford (35-0, 26 KO's), of Omaha, Nebraska, as he does so elegantly, switched to southpaw, and had Khan on the defensive in the third round as the Bolton fighter tried to protect himself from taking any more damage.
Khan (33-5, 20 KO's), 32, showed up in the fourth round and connected with quick jabs and a right hand. But when he walked back to his corner, Khan appeared to have injured his right hand, and was in obvious pain.
Khan had his best round in the fifth, landing a series of hard punches, including a solid left hand that got Crawford's attention. But the champion also had his best round as well, hurting Khan with thudding shots to the body that sucked the air out of his lungs.
The crowd of 14,091 was cheering loudly, but that all came to a halt in the sixth round. Crawford landed a low blow and Khan was visibly hurt. Referee David Fields allocated five minutes for Khan to recover, but Hunter stopped the fight.
"He couldn't get his legs back, and he said he couldn't go on," Hunter said. "He told me he wanted to wait for a minute and see if he could get his legs back, but the pain was too much. You get hit in the testicles on the side, and scientific studies show it can incapacitate you. He's never shown any indication in his career that he would quit. It was my decision to make the call."
According to CompuBox, Crawford landed 88 of 211 punches (42 percent), and Khan connected on just 44 of 182 (24 percent).
Khan came into the fight undefeated at 147 pounds, but that streak is no longer. It was Khan's third bout since he was knocked out by Canelo Alvarez in May 2016 when he challenged the Mexican sensation for the WBC middleweight title.
Many predicted that Khan would have his way in the early rounds, but this was unlike any other of his fights. For the first time in his professional career, he was thoroughly outclassed.
With the first victory of 2019 under his belt, Crawford, who earned $5.5 million compared to Khan's $5 million, is ready for bigger, more lucrative paydays. But the fight he is clamoring for the most is a 147-pound unification showdown with IBF beltholder Errol Spence Jr. (25-0, 21 KO's). Spence routed former four-division titlist Mikey Garcia, who moved up from 135-pounds to challenge him, on March 16. But like this fight, it was not close.
"The fight I want next is Errol Spence," Crawford said. "Whenever he is ready, he can come and get it."
But as much as the fighters and the fans want it, of course, promotional politics has to get in the way.
Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions control Spence and Arum is in charge of Crawford. Arum and Haymon have worked together in the pasts, but not very often for mega fights, with the much-hyped 2015 bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao being the sole exception. That fight was the richest in the history of boxing and generated over $500 million in pay-per-view revenue, a record that is likely never to be broken.
Instead of promoting the fight, Arum encouraged fans to boycott PBC until Crawford-Spence is made.
"Al Haymon won't make fights. Spence won't fight Crawford, not because of Spence but because of Al Haymon. He's running a scam of a company. People have to realize he is ruining the sport of boxing. To not make a Spence fight with Crawford, which is a fight that all fight fans want, why? He only has his fighters fight in his own camp, unless he gets fighters he knows his fighters can beat. That's the scam. Spence believes he will beat Crawford. Al Haymon does not believe. I'm looking to make the fight and do it on the most reasonable terms."