One of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world will look to close out 2019 on a high note when Terence Crawford defends the WBO welterweight title against "Mean Machine" Egidijus Kavaliauskas on Saturday, Dec. 14 from Madison Square Garden in New York.
The card also includes a highly anticipated lightweight title fight between IBF champion Richard Commey taking on one of boxing's fastest rising stars in Teofimo Lopez as well as a grudge match dating back to the 2016 Summer Olympics when Mick Conlan faces off with Vladimir Nitkin.
Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) fights for the second time in 2019. Back in April at MSG, Crawford successfully defended the WBO title for the second time when he stopped Amir Khan in the sixth round. Although fans have been clamoring for the former undisputed junior welterweight champion to square off against fellow top pound-for-pound fighter and unified champion Errol Spence Jr., Spence was booked for a unification bout with Shawn Porter that he won by split decision back in September and effectively removed the possibility of Spence-Crawford.
While "Mean Machine" isn't the opponent the boxing world wants to see Crawford against, the 32-year-old vows to not overlook Kavaliaskas.
“Egidijus Kavaliauskas is a two-time Olympian and I can’t take him lightly,” Crawford said in a press release. “He’s got everything to gain and nothing to lose and that makes him dangerous. I never overlook any opponent, and this will be no exception. I’ll be ready for anything and everything he brings on December 14 when I return to my second home, Madison Square Garden, and live on ESPN.”
Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) is a two-time Olympian out of Lithuania. But he comes in off of an underwhelming and highly controversial majority draw with Ray Robinson back in March. The 31-year-old knows he didn't perform to his capabilities seven months ago. He plans on being at his best and shocking the world come the last month of 2019.
“I have prepared my whole boxing career for a fight of this magnitude,” Kavaliauskas said. “Terence Crawford is an excellent fighter, but I fear no man. Nobody has seen the best of the ‘Mean Machine’ yet. I am going to shock a lot of people on December 14, but it won’t be a surprise to me. I earned this title shot. It is my time.”
Commey (29-2, 24 KOs) looks to close a stellar 2019 with a victory over the fast-rising Lopez. The native of Ghana captured gold for the first time in February with a devastating second-round TKO over Isa Chaniev. Commey followed it up with another dominant performance in June, dropping Ray Beltran four times before finishing him off in the eighth round to run his knockout streak to four.
"I'm very excited to fight at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden, in my second world title defense against Teofimo Lopez,” Commey said. “My lifelong dream of becoming a world champion became a reality through many years of hard work in my homeland of Ghana through the UK, Europe and finally in the United States."
Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) has quickly ascended to one of the sport's brightest prospects due to his exciting style inside the ring and his brashness outside of it. Like Kavaliauskas, the 22-year-old comes in with a ton of questions about his ability to be at a championship level following his unanimous decision victory over Masayoshi Nakatani in July.
Lopez's heard what people have said about the Nakatani. The New York native plans on silencing those who doubt him and win a world title in his home state.
“I’m finally back at Madison Square Garden, the place where I always wanted to win my first world title,” Lopez said. “I believe this fight will shut up all of the critics and prove to everyone that I back up my talking in the ring. I respect Commey as a champion, but when we’re in that ring, it’s going to be lights out for him. Come December 14, I am officially taking over the lightweight division.”