Crawford tops Brook in 4th in welterweight title fight

LAS VEGAS (AP) — 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 mythical pound-for-pound best list with an impressive stoppage of the veteran Brook, 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 8-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 Mideast.

The fight followed a bizarre ending in a 115-pound title rematch that left Joshua Franco still holding the belt he won in his first fight with Andrew Moloney 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.

Nevada Athletic Commission officials reviewed the replay several times, spending a total of 26 minutes before upholding the no contest decision by referee Russell Mora. As the waiting went on, the ESPN broadcast team was adamant on the air that they could see no head butt and that Moloney should have been declared the winner because the eye damage was caused by punches.

Arum was livid about the decision, protesting to no avail to Bob Bennett, head of the Nevada commission.

“This is an absolute disgrace,” Arum said. “There was no headbutt. Andrew Moloney should be the new champion.”

The fight was a rematch of their first fight when Franco knocked Moloney down in the 11th round and scored a unanimous decision over the formerly unbeaten Australian.

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