Unbeaten American Terence Crawford retained his WBO welterweight title with a ninth round knockout of Egidijus Kavaliauskas at Madison Square Garden.
Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) knocked Kavaliauskas down twice in the ninth. Crawford then displayed he was stronger and meaner than the "Mean Machine" by forcing his will over the Lithuanian dropping him in the 7th round, continued to punish him in the 8th, dropping him again twice in the 9th round before the referee waved off the fight.
Crawford, who typically starts fights in a right-handed stance and later switches to southpaw, boxed in a left-handed stance from the opening bell and spent the first round out-jabbing Kavaliauskas, who seemed hesitant to let his hands go.
Crawford however started to take control of the fight beginning in the 5th round by out-timing Kavaliauskas with his counters.
But Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs) was his mandatory challenger, and at times fought like a worthy one, consistently landing a hard right and even a few combinations in the early rounds.
Kavaliauskas, who competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, appeared to score the first knockdown of the fight in the third round. However, referee Ricky Gonzalez ruled it a slip.
But in the third round Kavaliauskas landed a right hand that caused Crawford to grab him, and when Kavaliauskas fired several more shots, Crawford went down to a knee for an apparent knockdown.
Crawford collected his thoughts and survived the round, but it wasn't until the fifth that he really started to look like his old self. "I wasn't hurt at all".
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He's still looking for a better opponent in the £ 147 heavy league, and promoter Bob Arum indicated that Crawford could potentially stand alongside veteran Shawn Porter, who lost to Errol Spence in a unification battle in September Jr. had to accept.
Whoever he fights it will surely be a much bigger test, which means Crawford can't afford to fiddle away five rounds before he gets comfortable throwing meaningful combinations.
"The round before that, my coaches kept telling me stop loading up", Crawford said.
"He caught me with a good shot", Crawford told ESPN.
"I am not ducking anybody. I said that because I don't know how long", said Crawford. I don't have to name names.
Yes, 2020 should be a bumper year for the welterweight division providing Crawford can finally crack into the top tier of it and land some of these big fights.
Earlier, Teofimo Lopez won a lightweight belt with a second-round stoppage of Richard Commey, and Michael Conlan beat Olympic rival Vladimir Nikitin.