Terence Crawford set to make mandatory title defense vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas on Dec. 14

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford will defend his title against Egidijus Kavaliauskas (not pictured) on Dec. 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Terence Crawford, the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world according to Yahoo Sports, will make the next defense of his WBO welterweight title as part of a triple-header on ESPN when he meets Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas on Dec. 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The fight card will begin immediately following the presentation of the Heisman Trophy at approximately 9 p.m. ET.

Teofimo Lopez, one of boxing’s top prospects, will try to take the final step on his rise to prominence when he challenges IBF champion Richard Commey for a lightweight belt in the co-main event.

And in the televised opener, featherweight Michael Conlan will meet Valeri Nikitin in a rematch of a controversial bout at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that Nikitin won by decision.

Conlan, representing Ireland, believed he’d won, as did most of those who saw the fight live. When the decision when to Nikitin, of Russia, Conlan went berserk and tweeted at Russian president Vladimir Putin asking how much it cost him to fix the bout.

Crawford is 35-0 with 26 knockouts and will be fighting for the first time since he stopped an overmatched Amir Khan in the sixth round on April 20 in New York. He’ll be a huge favorite to continue his winning ways when he meets Kavaliauskas, who is 21-0-1 with 17 knockouts, but coming off a split draw with Ray Robinson.

Kavaliauskas’ biggest win is a decision victory over Juan Carlos Abreu on July 7, 2018.

Lopez is 14-0 with 11 KOs and rocketed to attention in 2017. Though he’s kept winning, he’s had personal issues with his family and he’s not been as impressive in his last two fights.

He’ll need to be better against Commey, a veteran from Ghana who is 29-2 with 26 KOs and coming off a one-sided KO of Ray Beltran in June.

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