Terence Crawford got the stoppage win many predicted at Madison Square Garden, but did so after getting hit hard by Egidijus Kavaliauskas earlier in their fight.
For the second straight fight, Crawford successfully retained his WBO welterweight title at MSG, this time against Kavaliauskas in the ninth round after scoring multiple knockdowns on Kavaliauskas.
But before Crawford got to hurt and ultimately stop him, Kavaliauskas was the one that hurt him with a right hand in the second round. Crawford was staggered and even dropped to the canvas as a result of that right hand, but the referee did not rule it a knockdown. As the fight progressed, Kavaliauskas was able to hang in there and trade with Crawford for multiple rounds, but it was Crawford who broke down his challenger with a knockdown late in the eighth round.
Although Kavaliauskas was able to get back up after the first knockdown, he was still in trouble. Crawford was able to punish Kavaliauskas at the start of the ninth round and dropped him one more time. Once Kavaliauskas was able to get back up, Crawford ended the fight with a right hand that forced the referee to step in and stop the fight.
That was Crawford’s third title defense since winning the belt back in the summer of 2018 when he stopped Jeff Horn in Las Vegas. Since then, Crawford was able to return home to Omaha, Nebraska and score a victory over Jose Benavidez Jr. Earlier this year, Crawford headline a Top Rank on ESPN pay-per-view in April and defeated Amir Khan.
The co-main event of the card saw a new IBF lightweight champion being crowned in impressive fashion as Teofimo Lopez stopped Richard Commey in the second round to win the belt. Lopez landed a vicious right hand in the second round to drop Commey to the canvas and Commey never recovered. Once Commey got back up, Lopez went on the offensive and pummeled him with power punches until the referee stopped the bout.
Lopez is one of boxing’s fastest-rising stars and with a world title in hand, Top Rank will look to try and secure a bout between Lopez and unified WBA and WBO champion Vasiliy Lomachenko for 2020. The winner of the bout would hold three of the four major world titles with the WBC title currently vacant due to Devin Haney being injured and moved to WBC “Champion in Recess” and Javier Fortuna and Luke Campbell being ordered to fight for the vacant belt.
The opening bout featured a rematch between Michael Conlan and Vladimir Nikitin from their controversial fight in the 2016 Olympics that saw Nikitin win with a highly controversial decision. Now as pros, Conlan was able to outbox and outland Nikitin throughout the 10 rounds of action. The only success Nikitin had was when he attacked on the inside and traded with Conlan, but Conlan was able to withstand Nikitin’s power. Conlan won the bout by unanimous decision with scores of 98-92, 99-91 and 100-90.