LAS VEGAS – Sean Porter’s final moments in the ring showed why he was retiring.
After his second knockout in the 10th round of the WBO Middleweight Championship on Saturday against Terence Crawford, Porter frowned and repeatedly hit the rug with his gloves as referee Celestino Ruiz issued a count of 8.
With his father and coach, Kenny, seconds after the fight was stopped, Sean wasn’t as injured as he was angry. Even on his knees, under pressure as a result of being caught by one of the best boxers in the world, the competitive fire ignited even when he knew it would be extinguished.
The former welterweight champion announced his retirement during the post-match press conference, a development he said had been predetermined regardless of the outcome. But it may have been reinforced by defeat.
Porter had too much pride, and ambition too great to be relegated to inferior to the best. And this desire to pursue greatness will, in an age when it is so conspicuously absent, will be a permanent part of his legacy.
“After you fight everyone at the top, what else do you do?” Porter said. “I’m not going to open the door. You can look at the four losses and assume, ‘Okay, he could be a door opener now.'” “It’s not the life I want to live.”
Terence “Bud” Crawford retains his WBO title with a TKO of Sean Porter in Las Vegas.
Porter (31-4-1, 17 KOs) is retiring as a two-time welterweight champion who faced the best competition of his era. That includes Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs), who posted the biggest title win of his career in the 147-pound class.
As Porter made clear his decision to retire, it became clear that the decision was not hasty but rather meticulously planned. The 34-year-old revealed that he initially wanted to walk away from the sport after losing in a separate decision to Errol Spence Jr. in 2019. Porter said the plan dates back to 2017.
But something was wrong.
“After we fought, I felt like there was something else going on,” Porter said. “And that other thing was Terence Crawford.”
Porter proved to be Crawford’s toughest test as a welterweight. Porter’s signature pressure and lack of fear of running into chances with powerful kicks helped win the rounds early in the fight. In fact, Crawford led by just one point before the 10th round.
But after a quick hook-and-loop, and then another mid-round, hard right-handed one, Kenny Porter saw enough. The father-son combination of Porter knew all too well Crawford’s reputation as one of boxing’s most sinister fighters and a clinical finisher. In Kenny’s eyes, there was no reason to let her get to this point.
Kenny had no idea Sean was going to retire, no matter what happened at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Mandalay Bay. Sean and Kenny never had that conversation.
But perhaps the parental instincts started when Kenny climbed the stairs, sat on the carpet, and asked to end the fight. The father and coach were thinking about being able to drive to their son’s house, visit their grandchildren, and play with them.
“In most of this picture, when this is over, I’m still his father, and he’s still my son,” said Kenny Porter. “And we can have that part. That’s a long life.”
Although thoughts of retirement have seeped into Shaun’s head for years, it wasn’t clear until his last interaction with retired champ Andre Ward.
While working as analysts on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder trilogy fight back in October, a fan approached Ward and asked about a hypothetical showdown against ESPN’s No. 1 fighter Canelo Alvarez.
The fan told Ward that he still had another fight left. According to Porter, Ward’s response was simple.
‘He said, ‘Why don’t I have another one,’ said Porter. “And the man was confused. Meanwhile, I thought he just left it there. Why should I continue? Why can’t I get another one in me and put it away?”
Porter never wanted to be someone who would fight until he was 40 years old. He even thought about hanging up his gloves about 30 years ago.
But he kept going, pushing himself and testing his skills against the best in the world. Even if he won, he decided he had had enough. His health remains intact and he is at the beginning of a promising television career.
Porter drew everything he could from his career, presenting fans with entertaining and memorable fights along the way. And even as he announced his retirement, it was at the forefront of his mind, a reminder of the legacy he left behind.
“I hope they have everything they can hope to get out of this fight,” Porter said.