By ERIC OLSON
AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Unbeaten world champion Terence Crawford knocked out David Avanesyan in the sixth round Saturday night to retain his WBO welterweight belt.
Crawford, fighting for the first time in more than a year, had the sixth-ranked challenger wobbling with a flurry of blows before landing a right cross to the chin that put Avanesyan to the canvas 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the round.
“I was touching him to the body, and I was seeing that had an effect,” Crawford said. “He had a high guard, and I picked up the pace. There were punches in bunches, I saw an opening and took it and the rest is history.”
Crawford was fighting in his hometown for the sixth time as a professional and first time since 2018, and cheers of “Craw-ford! Craw-ford!” started before introductions.
The pay-per-view bout was made after negotiations for an undisputed welterweight championship fight between Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. broke down in October.
Crawford didn’t call out Spence directly, saying he would consider anyone who wants to fight, preferrably in the spring.
“We don’t know what is next,” Crawford said. “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and be ready for whoever.”
Brian McIntyre, Crawford’s trainer, said his fighter would be open to moving up from 147 pounds to 154.
“I don’t think anyone at 54 or 47 can beat him,” McIntyre said. “The only question is, ‘Who is willing to fight him?’”
The 35-year-old Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs) showed no signs of rust in his first fight since he stopped Shawn Porter in the 10th round on Nov. 20, 2021.
Avanesyan (29-4-1), who previously fought in March and won by technical knocked over Oskari Metz, stood in there with Crawford for the first five rounds.
Crawford came out in an orthodox stance, but switched to southpaw midway through the first round and fought that way for the duration.
Crawford used an effective jab to neutralize Avanesyan, but the Russian never backed off. Crawford shook him up with a combination to the head and body in the fourth, landed a couple solid body shots in the fifth and then took full control in the sixth.
Crawford landed three straight uppercuts to the chin, wobbled him with a couple shots to the body and then landed the decisive blow that put down Avanesyan.
In the featured bout on the undercard, former MMA star Cris Cyborg won by unanimous decision over Gabrielle Holloway (0-3) in four rounds in her professional boxing debut.
Cyborg was the aggressor throughout and in the third round had Holloway bent over along the ropes with a flurry of shots to the head and body. After the standing eight count, Cyborg landed a couple more shots to finish the round and continued her onslaught through the fourth.
In other fights, light heavyweight Steve Nelson (18-0, 15 KOs) knocked out James Ballard (10-4) in 2:41 of the first round; Jeremiah Milton (8-0) won by unanimous decision over 388-pound heavyweight Dujuan Calloway (5-2) in six rounds; and super bantamweight Arnold Khegai (19-1-1) won by split decision over Eduardo Baez (21-4-2) in 10 rounds.
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