Boxing: Crawford knocks out Avanesyan to retain WBO welterweight world title

WBO champion Terence Crawford (right) punching David Avanesyan during their welterweight title fight in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES – Unbeaten American Terence Crawford knocked out David Avanesyan in the sixth round on Saturday to retain his World Boxing Organization welterweight world title.

Crawford, fighting in front of home fans at the CHI Health Centre arena in Omaha, Nebraska, sent Avanesyan sprawling with a right hook at 2:14 of the sixth round, improving to 39-0 with 30 knockouts.

A former undisputed light welterweight world champion, Crawford made his sixth defence of the title he claimed when he stopped Australian Jeff Horn in the ninth round in June of 2018.

No opponent has taken Crawford the distance in more than six years.

He punished Avanesyan in the sixth round with repeated left upper-cuts, finally following one short left with the right hook that knocked the challenger out cold.

Crawford’s 10th straight knockout ended the six-fight winning streak of London-based Russian Avanesyan, the reigning European Champion in the 147-pound division who fell to 29-3 with one draw and 17 knockouts.

Crawford’s latest victory could at last pave the way for a long-awaited match-up with fellow American Errol Spence Jr, unbeaten holder of the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles.

The two had been in talks for a meeting this year and when that failed to materialise Crawford opted for the title defence against Avanesyan that was his lone bout in 2022.

Spence, who owns a record of 28-0 with 22 knockouts, returned from surgery to repair a detached retina to score a 10th-round technical knockout of Yordenis Ugas in April to add the WBA belt to his WBC and IBF titles.

Spence had been set to fight Manny Pacquiao in August 2021 but withdrew from the match-up because of the eye injury.

It was the second major setback of Spence’s career after an October 2019 car crash led to him being hospitalised.

On Saturday, Spence posted a video on Instagram saying he’d been in another car accident, showing damage to his vehicle and saying he was hit by a 14-year-old driver who had run a red light after taking his parents’ car.

“It always happens to me,” Spence says in the video.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Naoya Inoue said on Saturday that he intends to prove that he rules the bantamweight world when he faces England’s Paul Butler for the undisputed title in Tokyo next week.

The fierce-punching Inoue, nicknamed “Monster”, is aiming to become the first undisputed bantamweight world champion in modern boxing history by adding Butler’s WBO title to his own WBC, WBA and IBF belts.

“Having all four belts will prove that I am the No. 1 bantamweight, so for me this belt is very necessary,” the unbeaten 29-year-old Inoue told reporters in Yokohama.

“When I have all four belts then I will decide what comes next, whether that means moving up to super-bantamweight or whatever.” AFP

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