Terence "Bud" Crawford's next fight may finally be against one of the high-profile opponents he's been seeking.
On Wednesday, the World Boxing Organization ordered Crawford to make a mandatory title defense against Shawn Porter, a former major titleholder who is the No. 2 challenger in WBO's welterweight rankings.
The fighters' respective promoters — Top Rank for Crawford, TGB Promotions for Porter — have 30 days to negotiate and reach an agreement on a fight. If an agreement can't be reached in that time frame, a purse bid will be ordered, which would send the fight to auction for other promoters to bid.
Crawford (37-0) won the WBO welterweight title in June 2018 when he defeated Jeff Horn by technical knockout. That was Crawford's first fight in that weight class after he made a historic title unification in the light welterweight division.
But since Crawford moved up to welterweight, he's had a difficult time arranging fights with other top boxers in the class, most of whom are represented by a rival promoter. Crawford has successfully defended his WBO welterweight title four times — all by TKO — with his last fight coming against Kell Brook last November.
Porter (31-3-1) is widely regarded as one of the top welterweight boxers. He most recently held the WBC title after defeating Danny Garcia in September 2018. After a successful title defense in March 2019, Porter lost that belt to Errol Spence Jr. in September 2019.
Porter's last fight came in August 2020 when he defeated Sebastian Formella by way of unanimous decision.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum has said previously that Crawford's next fight was tentatively scheduled for Oct. 23, though a location and opponent hadn't been finalized. It now appears the opponent is known, it's just a matter of negotiating the details.
This may also be Crawford's last fight with Top Rank. Crawford originally signed with the promoter in 2011 and has since risen to superstardom in the sport, especially thanks to Top Rank's partnership with ESPN. But Crawford's deal with Top Rank expires in October, which will provide Crawford an opportunity to test the market with other promoters.
Most boxing fans have been clamoring for a fight between Crawford and Spence, the IBF and WBC welterweight champion ranked among the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. A fight between the two has never materialized in large part because of an uncooperative rivalry between the boxers' promoters.
Spence's next fight is currently scheduled for Aug. 21 against Manny Pacquiao. There were reports that Pacquiao would be Crawford's next opponent, but that fight never came together, so Spence is getting Pacquiao next.
But with the Crawford-Porter bout likely coming in October, that may open the door for Crawford to finally fight the big-name opponents in his class.