The Glass Is Half Full: Best of The First Half of 2014

The Glass Is Half Full: Best of The First Half of 2014

As the final seconds of 2013 ticked away, our attention turned from whatever kind of celebratory beverage we held in our hand toward the topic of what might occur in the year to come. For fans of boxing, the future seemed uncertain; and those of a more pessimistic inclination probably felt they had good reason for viewing it as being rather bleak.

After all, at the start of 2014, the rift between promotional organizations and networks seemed as vast and impassible as it ever had at any point since it was first created. The number of appealing match-ups to look forward was rather limited, and the match-ups that had been bandied about (e.g. Floyd Mayweather-Amir Khan) did little to whet the boxing fan’s appetite. Given that context, it becomes easy to understand why some observers felt that the year would prove to be a disappointment.

Still, six months later, these fears have proved to be unfounded.

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Terence Crawford: Impressive!

Terence Crawford: Impressive!

Terence Crawford demonstrated that he`s the best lightweight pugilist in the world after he successfully retained his World Boxing Organization`s (WBO) Title with a ninth round technical knockout victory over the previous undefeated and former featherweight world champion, Yuriorkis Gamboa, in which he scored four knockdowns.

Both boxers put on an extremely entertaining and action packed bout in front of a sold out crowd of close to 11,000 passionate fans who were there to support their hometown fighter, Crawford at the CenturyLink Center. This was the first world title matchup in Omaha, Nebraska in 42 years.

Gamboa controlled the first four rounds by getting the better of the exchanges and landed the more powerful shots due to his amazing speed that caught Crawford off guard. Gamboa` s yearlong inactivity and only fighting for the third time in two and half years didn`t appear to be an issue in the early going.

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Decline of the Lightweight Division

On Saturday night Lightweight champion Terence Crawford delivered a breakout performance. The Omaha native showed speed, great technical ability and power, dropping Yuriorkis Gamboa four times en route to a ninth round stoppage win. The question now is, where does he go from here?

The answer is that he has to move up to Light Welterweight to get the big fights. Crawford’s victory has shone a light on the decline of the once great Lightweight division.

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Terence Crawford KO’s Yuriorkis Gamboa

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Terence Crawford not only transitioned from orthodox to southpaw, he pulled off a much bigger metamorphosis going from eastern Nebraska to the top of the world. That came as no surprise to the ten thousand plus fans on hand at the Century Link Center, Omaha, Nebraska. They already knew something that the rest of the world was only beginning to see. That pearl of knowledge is Terence “Hunter/Bud” Crawford is one helleva fighter!

If you watch the History Channel, you know Omaha is not only a good sized city on the banks of the Missouri River, it is also the name of the famous beach where allied troops landed on D-Day in June of 1944. It was the beginning of the end for the Axis Powers. Crawford pulled off his own D-Day when he transitioned from orthodox to southpaw in the third round of his battle with the undefeated Cuban sensation named Yuriorkis Gamboa.

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Terence Crawford takes a big step towards superstardom with sizzling stoppage win over Yuriorkis Gamboa

Terence Crawford takes a big step towards superstardom with sizzling stoppage win over Yuriorkis Gamboa

WBO lightweight king Terence Crawford looked superb last night in handing former amateur superstar Yuriorkis Gamboa his first pro defeat. Too big, tall and rangy he may have been for former featherweight Gamboa, but nothing should be taken from Crawford’s win. Looking for all the world like a Thomas Hearns clone, Crawford displayed power, accuracy, speed and, most of the time – barring the occasion in the 9th-round when he was hurt before turning things back around in his favour – patience.

Gamboa, at a major disadvantage in terms of reach, had to, as commentator Larry Merchant said, “try and make things happen,” and in doing so, by coming in and trying to land dome hurt on his taller opponent, the Cuban talent put himself at serious risk. Crawford of course took advantage of this and buzzed his challenger a number of times. Only Gamboa’s ridiculous heart and courage kept him in the fight, and Gamboa even stated post-fight that, after the second hurtful knockdown of the 9th and final round, he’d wanted to continue.

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Crawford beats Gamboa

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If you would have told me before the Terrance Crawford (24-0) and Yuriorkis Gamboa’s (23-1) Saturday night tilt (contested in Omaha…known the world over as the fight capital of Nebraska) that Crawford was going to win by a tenth round stoppage I would have said…okay, fine. Crawford is a talented, skilled boxer fighting in his hometown. He’s also significantly bigger than Gamboa, both in terms of height and natural weight class, and he’s looked far sharper in his recent bouts. So yeah, a tenth round stoppage seems about right. But if you would have told me that Crawford and Gamboa would also be sort of a spectacularly entertaining life or death slugfest, and probably the leading candidate for fight of the year, I would have said no that won’t happen: I don’t care if you’re clairvoyant or from the future or whatever your deal is, but you’re wrong. A blown-up featherweight coming off a slow paced tap-fest over a year ago against a defensively responsible counter-puncher could never be a fight of the year candidate and really, it’s idiotic to suggest otherwise. And yet Saturday night happened.

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Crawford stops Gamboa; Korobov decisions Uzcategui

Crawford stops Gamboa; Korobov decisions Uzcategui

WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford (24-0, 17 KO’s) got off to a slow start in the first 4 rounds, but then came on to knock 32-year-old Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-1, 16 KO’s) down 4 times en route to stopping him in the 9th round tonight in a fight televised by HBO from the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Crawford was hurt in the 9th round after getting a little too overanxious trying to score a stoppage. But Crawford came back to knock Gamboa down twice with big punches to get the stoppage. Gamboa got back up after the second knockdown but the referee Genaro Rodriguez chose to stop the fight at 2:53 of the round.

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Is Gamboa’s fight against Crawford a last-gasp opportunity for him?

Is Gamboa’s fight against Crawford a last-gasp opportunity for him?

Former IBF/WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16 KO’s) will be making one of his rare appearances this Saturday night in challenging WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford (23-0, 16 KO’s) on HBO at the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Like an aging celebrity entertainer, Gamboa’s appearances in the ring have become infrequent despite the fact that he’s not tasted the big money that many fighters of his talent level have. Gamboa hasn’t fought since last year when he struggled to defeat Darleys Perez by a less than impressive 12 round unanimous decision in June of 2013.

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