This was not the ending either fighter really wanted … or was it? The WBO welterweight championship fight between Terence Crawford and Amir Khan ended abruptly in the sixth round after Khan couldn’t continue from a low blow.
It happened 47 seconds into the sixth round as Crawford, who had repeatedly pounded Khan’s body with hooks to the ribs, launched another hook that landed just below the belt-line, hitting Khan in the groin.
Khan doubled over and immediately backed off and went to his corner. He was clearly in discomfort and spent several seconds trying to adjust his cup. As referee David Fields looked on and tried to get Khan to resume action, Khan’s corner informed him he couldn’t continue. “The coach stopped the fight,” Fields said referring to Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter.
“It’s obvious he was in a lot of pain,” Hunter said. “Sometimes you can continue and sometimes you can’t continue, it depends on how hard you were hit in the testicles. I asked him if he could continue and he said, ‘No.’”
Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) retained his WBO welterweight championship with a technical knockout, but it wasn’t very satisfying for the crowd of 14,091 at Madison Square Garden and the promoters of the fight.
“I think he could have continued,” said Bob Arum of Top Rank. “He had five minutes to recover. But he was looking for a place to fall. I think the next round or two would have ended the fight. He was taking a beating.”
Crawford wasn’t happy either.
“I could tell I was breaking him down,” he said. “I was just a matter of time. 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, of Omaha, Neb., was defending his title for the third time, which was the total number of his fights in the 147-pound division after winning all four major belts at 140. Khan, who moved up to welterweight earlier in his career and fancied himself the bigger man. He also thought his boxing skills would keep him in the fight.
But his chin has been long suspect and it didn’t take long for Crawford to test it. He dropped the Englishman in the first round with a right-hand. Khan (33-5, 20 K0s) got up on wobbly legs and barely managed to survive the round after Crawford staggered him with another right.
Khan stayed on his toes as the second round began, but the fleet-footed Crawford stayed in his face, waiting for another opening. The champ stayed patient, stalking his wounded prey, a reprieve that allowed Khan to clear his head a bit. Crawford was so patient in the second, he might have lost the round as Khan fired a couple of quick combinations to score points.
Crawford turned to a southpaw stance in the third round, flicking out his right jab to keep Khan from establishing any offense. But it wasn’t a decisive round for either fighter. The champion began to let his hands go in the fourth, focusing on Khan’s body. Crawford ripped several hard hooks to the ribs, keeping Khan on the defensive.
Crawford continued to be the aggressor in the fifth, rocking Khan with a hard left to the head and a wicked uppercut. But Khan weathered each attack and kept pressing forward, landing a few shots of his own.
The low blow came early in the sixth and unexpectedly stopped the fight.
Talk immediately turned to a possible bout between Crawford and the unbeaten Errol Spence Jr.
“We’re prepared to do the fight under the most reasonable terms,” Arum said.
In the undercard bouts: Brooklyn’s Teofimo Lopez improved to 13-0 with 11 knockouts, stopping Edis Tatli (31-3, 10 KOs) of Finland in the fifth-round of their lightweight bout. Shakur Stevenson of Newark remained unbeaten (11-0, 6 KOs) with a unanimous decision over Christopher Diaz (24-2, 16 KOs) of Puerto Rico, and Felix Verdejo (25-1, 16 KOs) of Puerto Rico earned an easy decision over Bryan Vasquez (37-4, 20 KOs) of Costa Rica.