Terence Crawford started slow Saturday night in his WBO welterweight title fight against underdog Egidijus Kavaliauskas at Madison Square Garden in New York, but he came on strong and scored a ninth-round knockout to keep his 147-pound title.

Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) knocked Kavaliauskas down twice in the ninth. Referee Ricky Gonzalez ended the fight at 44 seconds after Crawford landed a right hook to the head, sending Kavaliauskas to one on the heels of a right uppercut and right that did the same only seconds earlier.

Crawford led the scorecards 79-72, 79-72 and 78-73 at the the fight was stopped.

Crawford, of Omaha, Nebraska, successfully defended his title for the third time, although he still awaits a match with another top welterweight as he fights for Top Rank and on ESPN. The others all fight under Premier Boxing Champions and on other networks.

But Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs) was his mandatory challenger, and at times fought like a worthy one, consistently landing a hard right and even a few combinations in the early rounds.

With swelling on his right eye, Crawford finally got rolling in the seventh, landing a clean right to Lithuanian’s ear and sending him to a knee. Kavaliauskas recovered and off a late-round barrage to make it back to his corner.

Crawford dished out more punishment in the eighth before closing out the fight in the next round.

–Field Level Media

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