Terrance Crawford: Fighter of the Year

Undefeated World Boxing Organization`s (“WBO”) Lightweight Title Holder, Terrance “Hunter” Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs) went from a rather unknown up and coming contender to a potential superstar in 2014 as he obtained a world title from Ricky Burns and then successfully defended it twice against two great pugilists, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Raymundo Beltra, which makes him my 2014 Fighter of the Year.

Crawford traveled to Glasgow, Scotland in March and beat up two-division world champion, Ricky Burns, who was making his fourth title defense. Despite fighting the biggest bout of his career and being a long way from his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, Crawford showed no signs of being shy in the big moment. He proved to be no match for the tough and experienced Burns as he controlled the fight and effectively landed whatever he wanted, especially from the outside, en route to a twelve unanimous decision victory, despite fighting in Burns` backyard.

Instead of taking an easy first title defense, Crawford took on former undefeated Cuban boxing star, Gamboa in June. Both men fought an all-out war in one of the better bouts of 2014, which featured nonstop action. It was Crawford`s power; however, that turned the fight around in his favor after the third round. He knockdown Gamboa in the fourth, again in the eight and twice more in the ninth round, before the fight was stopped, giving Crawford the ninth-round technical knockout victory. Not only did he beat Gamboa, who until this bout, dominated every opponent he faced, but he did it in devastating fashion with four brutal knockdowns. This was an extremely impressive performance by Crawford, regardless of the fact that Gamboa was fighting for only the second time in this weight class.

He wasn’t done with his spectacular year as he put on another sensational performance last month, as he dominated number one lightweight contender, Raymundo Beltra, in a near shutout. Crawford landed whatever he wanted, connected on extremely good power shots that staggered Beltra several times and showed great defense that prevented him from getting anything going offensively. Beltra got robbed against Burns in the fight before Crawford fought him, even broke his jaw and yet somehow received a draw; however, he couldn’t reduplicate the same success that he had against Burns on Crawford. After this victory, Crawford became the Ring Magazine number one lightweight boxer in the world.

Crawford has the potential to become a huge boxing star. He has an amazing work ethic, is a very good fundamental and technically sound fighter who displays great footwork, switches from orthodox to southpaw stance effortlessly, uses a very effective jab and has exceptional speed. His power and defense are other assets of his that make him a well-rounded boxer that doesn’t have any major weakness. His star power grew immensely in 2014 as he was showcased on HBO in his last two fights and both of them were sold out at the CenturyLink Center, which is in his hometown. Crawford is only 27-years old, which gives him plenty of time to make a successful impact on boxing.

Honorable Mention for Fighter of the Year: Three fighters that have really good resumes for Fighter of the Year Award include: Sergy Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs), Gennady Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (57-5-3, 30 KOs).

Kovalev knocked out Cedric Agnew and Blake Caparello who were both undefeated boxers in impressive manner. Then last month, he badly beat up ring legend and future Boxing Hall of Famer, Bernard Hopkins to add the World Boxing Association and the International Boxing Federation Light Heavyweight Title to go along with his WBO Light Heavyweight Belt.

Golovkin had an equally remarkable year, as he stopped all three of his opponents, Osumanu Adama and former middleweight world title holders, Daniel Geale and Marco Rubio, all in devastating fashion. His last two opponents lasted less than five rounds in the ring with him.

Pacquiao regained his form as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport by beating former undefeated Timothy Bradley and thankfully the judges gave the correct verdict this time around. He destroyed Chris Algieri, in his next bout, as he knocked him down six times, for an extremely easy one-sided victory.

Crawford should receive the Fighter of the Year Honors over these three very worthy candidates because he fought the better opposition and had slightly more of an impact in his weight class and in boxing than Kovalev, Golovkin or Pacquiao did. It`ll be great to see Crawford fight the best 140 fighters in the world, as he moves up a weight class where bigger bouts await him next year.