Terence Crawford stops Jose Benavidez with 12th-round barrage
Last Updated: 14/10/18 9:23am
Terence Crawford stopped Jose Benavidez with just 18 seconds left of the 12th round to retain his WBO welterweight title in Omaha.
Crawford produced a devastating finish to the fight, first flooring Benavidez with an uppercut and then catching his opponent with consecutive rights to force referee Celestino Ruiz to stop the contest just as the judges were totting up their final scores.
The American (34-0-KO25) could now put his unbeaten record on the line against IBF champion Errol Spence after inflicting a first career defeat on Benavidez (27-1-KO18) at the end of a contest which had long-since developed into a personal grudge match.
Crawford and Benavidez had bickered throughout the run-up to Saturday's fight, with Crawford taking a wild swing at his rival on Friday at the weigh-in after initially being shoved.
But the fight failed to produce many fireworks in the opening rounds, with Benavidez not throwing a huge amount of punches and taking constant pressure from the champion to head and body.
Benavidez did have some success in the fourth, but Crawford took control after the halfway point and was well ahead on the cards by the time the fight reached the 12th.
Crawford would have the last laugh, sending Benavidez to the canvas with 45 seconds remaining and continuing to press forward his advantage after his rival beat the count.
But the end would come before the cards could come into consideration, Crawford's volley of punches forcing Ruiz to stop the fight and bringing the partisan hometown crowd to their feet.
As he had promised Crawford refused to shake hands with Benavidez after the fight, and he said: "It was just a matter of time. He slowed down tremendously.
"He was tired, and once he slowed down, I seen I can catch him with [the uppercut]. It feels so good to shut somebody up who's been talking for so long. I'm at ease."