Boxing: Crawford crushes Brook with 4th-round TKO to keep WBO welterweight belt

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Unbeaten Terence Crawford won his first fight of 2020 on Saturday (Nov 14) by retaining his World Boxing Organisation welterweight title with a stunning fourth-round knockout of Kell Brook in Las Vegas.

The American shook off ring rust from a long layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic with a statement victory over the former champion from England at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.

Crawford beat Brook to the punch with a right jab that sent the challenger stumbling back onto the ropes. He then finished him off moments later with a chopping right and a flurry of short lefts prompting referee Tony Weeks to stop it at 1:14 of the round.

The 33-year-old started slowly, looking for an opening to try and take advantage of his superior speed and skill. Brook’s game plan appeared to be working until Crawford seized his chance midway through the fourth with a devastating right jab to the face.

“I was trying to gauge the distance. He had good distance,” Crawford said of the frustrating first couple of rounds. “I was trying to find my rhythm. That is why it was so competitive at first. I couldn’t get my shots off.”

The organisers decided to allow 100 spectators, including family members, into the Nevada casino to watch the fight in the midst of a pandemic that has killed 1.3 million around the world, including 245,000 people in America.

Crawford improved to 37-0 with 28 knockouts despite a size disadvantage against the bigger Brooks, who has fought as high as middleweight.

Brook had a different trainer for this fight because his regular one did not want to come to the US due to the coronavirus.

He suffered his third loss in his last five fights and his record dropped to 39-3 with 27 KOs.

“I got caught with a shot I didn’t see. I have always said that if I am in a fight, and am going to lose, I am going to go out on my shield,” he said.

Crawford was making his first ring appearance since December 2019 when he beat Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas, and he hopes he does not have to wait as long for his next one.

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American eyes Pacquiao next

He is confident this victory will land him a fight with Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao, who was the opponent he initially wanted but could not meet because of the virus.

Crawford said the circumstances had now changed, and he would reopen talks with Bob Arum and Pacquiao for a fight in the Middle East, maybe Qatar, in the first half of next year.

“So now we can go back to the drawing board and try to revisit a fight with Manny Pacquiao,” he added.

Arum, who manages Pacquiao, said on Saturday the fight is a real possibility, but did not go into details. He said previously it could be in March or April in Qatar.

“The money was there. The fight was going to take place in the Middle East,” the 88-year-old said.

“Then the minister of health said we can’t do it because we can’t guarantee that spectators would be allowed.

“Now they called us and said if Terence is successful, then we want to resume talks and see if we can do it in the spring.”

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