After going punch-for-punch with Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter contented himself with walking away from boxing

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LAS VEGAS – Shawn Porter’s last moments in the ring showed why he had to walk away.

After his second knockdown in the 10th round of Saturday’s WBO welterweight title against Terence Crawford, Porter scowled and repeatedly hit the canvas with his gloves as referee Celestino Ruiz issued an 8-count.

With his father and coach, Kenny, seconds away from stopping the fight, Shawn was not injured as much as he was angry. Even on his knees, under duress as a result of being caught by one of the world’s best boxers, the competitive fire burned, even when he knew it would be extinguished.

The former welterweight champion announced his retirement during the postfight news conference, a development he said was predetermined regardless of the outcome. But it was perhaps amplified by the loss.

Porter had too much pride, too many ambitions to be relegated to a rank among the best. And this willingness to pursue greatness in an era where it is noticeably absent will be a lasting part of his legacy.

“Once you’ve fought everyone at the top, what else do you do?” said Porter. “I do not want to be a gatekeeper. You would look at the four losses and assume, ‘Well, he could be a gatekeeper now.’ That’s not the life I want to live.”

Porter (31-4-1, 17 KOs) retires as a two-time welterweight champion facing the best competition of his era. That includes Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs), who picked up the biggest win of its title race in the 147-pound division.

When Porter elaborated on his decision to retire, it became clear that the decision was not impulsive, but carefully mapped out. The 34-year-old revealed that he initially wanted to step down from the sport following his loss of split-decision to Errol Spence Jr. in 2019. Porter said it was a plan that goes all the way back to 2017.

But something felt wrong.

“After we fought, I felt like there was something else,” Porter said. “And something else was Terence Crawford.”

Porter proved to be the toughest test for Crawford as a welterweight. Porter’s trademark pressure and unwillingness to be lured into opportunities for heavy counterattacks helped him win rounds early in the match. In fact, Crawford led by just one point heading into the 10th round.

But after a knockdown from a quick hook, another in the middle of the round – one from a penalty overhand to the right – saw Kenny Porter see enough. The Porter-father-son combination was well aware of Crawford’s reputation as one of boxing’s ugliest fighters and a clinical finisher. In Kenny’s eyes, there was no reason to let it get there.

Kenny had no idea Shawn would retire no matter what happened at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Mandalay Bay. Shawn and Kenny never had that conversation.

Game

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Kenny Porter, father and coach of Shawn Porter, says his son was not properly preparing to fight Terence Crawford.

But perhaps paternal instincts struck as Kenny went up the stairs, stepped onto the canvas, and prayed that the fight was over. The coach and the father thought about being able to drive over to his son’s house, visit and play with his grandchildren.

“In most of this picture, once this is over, I’m still his father, he’s still my son,” Kenny Porter said. “And we’re going to do that part. It’s a long life.”

Although thoughts of retirement seeped into Shawn’s head for years, it did not become clear until a recent interaction with retired champion Andre Ward.

During their work as analysts for the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder trilogy fight in October, a fan came up to Ward and asked him about the hypothetical fight against Canelo Alvarez, ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.

Fans told Ward he still had one more fight left in him. According to Porter, Ward’s answer was simple.

“He said, ‘Why can’t I just have one more left in me?'” Porter said. “And the guy was confused. In the meantime, I’m like, he started it right there. Why do I have to keep going? Why can’t I just have one more in me and save it?”

Porter would never be someone who fought up in the 40s. He even considered hanging up the gloves around the age of 30.

But he kept going, pushing himself and testing his abilities against the best in the world. Even though he had won, he decided he had had enough. His health is still intact and he is at the beginning of a promising TV career.

Porter took all he could out of his career, giving fans entertaining and memorable matches along the way. And even when he announced his departure, it was at the forefront of his mind, a reminder of the legacy he leaves behind.

Said Porter: “I hope you got everything you expected from this match.”

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