Terence Crawford started slow and finished fast, stopping Kell Brook with a barrage of punches in the fourth round Saturday night to retain his welterweight title.
Crawford remained unbeaten and kept his place on the pound-for-pound best list with an impressive stoppage of the British fighter, who fought well for three rounds before succumbing to Crawford’s power.
Crawford turned the fight around with a big right hand that sent Brook into the ropes and prompted referee Tony Weeks to give him an eight-count. When the fight resumed, he landed a half dozen punches to the head before Weeks waved the fight to a close at 1:14 of the fourth round.
“Kell is a tremendous talent, I can’t take nothing away from him,” Crawford said. “But he lost to a better man tonight.”
Brook said he thought he was controlling the fight when he got hit with the punch that sent him across the ring. “Never in my career, nobody has ever done that to me, not even in sparring,’’ Brook said.
Crawford, who scored his 28th knockout in running his record to 37-0, took his time in the opening rounds to figure out Brook, who used his jab and speed to win early rounds. After switching from an orthodox stance to southpaw he began landing at a better pace before unleashing a right hook early in the fourth round that sent Brook (39-3) staggering across the ring.
The British challenger was held upright by the ropes but when the fight resumed, he was unable to defend himself as Crawford landed a flurry of punches before Weeks stopped the bout. Fight statistics showed Crawford landing 36 of 111 punches to 26 of 109 for Brook. It was the eighth straight title knockout for Crawford.
Crawford said after the fight that he wanted to fight Manny Pacquiao next, a fight that was in negotiation before Crawford turned to Brook instead. “I’m looking to secure a Pacquiao fight,” the Nebraska fighter said. Promoter Bob Arum said he has had negotiations to match Crawford with Pacquiao, with a possible fight sometime in the spring in the Middle East.
The fight followed a bizarre ending in a title match-up between Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney, a rematch of their first fight in June.
Franco’s eye swelled up from what was ruled an accidental head butt in the first round of the scheduled 12-round bout. After the ringside physician ruled Franco couldn’t go on at the end of second round because his eye was shut, the fight was called a no contest, meaning Franco retains the belt.
In London, Katie Taylor cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Spain’s Miriam Gutiérrez to remain the undisputed women’s world lightweight champion.
The 34-year-old Irishwoman headlined the card at Wembley Arena in the last of three women’s world title bouts and put in a stunning performance that thoroughly deserved top billing.
Gutiérrez, who was fighting outside her homeland Spain for the first time, came into the contest with a 13-0 record but was simply outclassed by the impressive Taylor, with the judges scoring the one-sided contest 100-89, 100-90 and 99-91 in her favour as she retained her WBA, IBF, WBC, WBO and Ring magazine titles with ease.
“Yeah, very, very satisfied,” Taylor told Sky Sports. “I thought it was a great performance and she was very tough. I tried my best to get her out of there at times. She’s very durable but I couldn’t get her out. I would have loved to get a stoppage today but it was a great performance. I was very happy today.
“There are no shortage of big fights out there. It is all about the legacy and making history in this sport and inspiring the next generation but yeah, people still haven’t seen the best of me yet.”