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Fighter of the Year 2017: Terence Crawford

Written By | Jan 1, 2018
All the belts: Terence Crawford unified the 140-pound division en route to becoming the Ringside Seat 2017 Fighter of the Year. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

All the belts: Terence Crawford unified the 140-pound division en route to becoming the Ringside Seat 2017 Fighter of the Year. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

SAN DIEGO, Calif., January 1, 2018 – Certain accomplishments in sports sit on such a high shelf, they aren’t often reached. In boxing, it’s becoming a unified, undisputed division’s sole champion.

For only the fourth time in the modern era of boxing, Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo of Namibia put their collective four titles in the junior welterweight division on the line on August 19 in Crawford’s home town of Omaha, Nebraska, winner take all. Indongo defeated Eduard Troyanovsky just a few weeks prior with a savage knockout and was expected to provide a serious challenge to Crawford.

Terence Crawford scored a knockdown in the second round against Julius Indongo enroute to a third round knockout win. Photo: Mikey Wiliams, Top Rank Boxing

Crawford successfully neutralized Indongo, scoring a definitive statement win by knocking out Indongo with body shots at 1:38 of the third round to remain undefeated as a professional with a record of 32-0, 23 by knockout. Crawford became the owner of the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles from all major sanctioning organizations simultaneously. For this accomplishment, Crawford is Ringside Seat’s 2017 Fighter of the Year.

READ ALSO: Fight of the Year 2017 – Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko

“I thank God for this blessing. It feels great, it feels man, like a dream come true,” said Crawford of his accomplishment. He credited targeted repetition in the gym with trainer Brian McIntyre and a smart game plan for the victory. “Oh man, we been practicing body shots all camp, it’s been a rough tough camp. Everything we worked on in camp came out tonight,” said Crawford after the win.

With every challenge and every fight, Crawford puts more of his skills on display. He has become equally comfortable fighting either from his natural orthodox stance or the southpaw stance, making it more difficult for opponents to prepare for him or know what to anticipate. He is composed, surgical in his precision, and patient. His confidence is built on his preparation. When he is ready to unleash his offense, he is fast and accurate.

In his last bout, Terence Crawford entered the ring wearing a “140” Nebraska Cornhuskers in a salute to his native Omaha where he regularly sells out the arena. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Crawford wasn’t always thought of as a power punching knockout fighter, but he’s become one. He employs a selective mean streak in the ring, wanting not just to win but to destroy his opponents and demoralize them. He beats them mentally before he beats them physically.

Also meriting consideration for 2017 Fighter of the Year (alphabetical order):

Gennady Golovkin made his first ever appearance in Las Vegas as a professional against Canelo Alvarez this year. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Gennady Golovkin: Despite the scorecards, most observers believe Golovkin won the year’s middleweight superfight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the greatest test of his professional career. Earlier in 2017, Golovkin’s knockout streak came to an end in a closer fight than anyone expected with Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs. Whether Golovkin is slowing down a bit due to age or not, his will to win is as great as ever and he remains undefeated at 37-0 with the single draw. Fans can look forward to a rematch with Alvarez in 2018.

Vasyl Lomachenko made his case to stand on top of the pound for pound list Saturday with his victory over Guillermo Rigondeaux. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Vasyl Lomachenko made his case to stand on top of the pound for pound list with his victory over Guillermo Rigondeaux. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Vasyl Lomachenko: After his dominating performance in a highly anticipated fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux, Lomachenko joked that he should change his name to “NoMasChenko.” Four opponents in a row have quit against Lomachenko: Rigondeaux, Miguel Marriaga, and Jason Sosa this year, and Nicholas Walters at the end of 2016. The two-time Olympic gold medalist has made a smooth transition to the professional ranks, finding himself in the Top Five pound for pound after just 11 professional fights.

Srisikat Sor Rungvisai celebrates his victory over Roman Gonzalez. Photo: Mickey Bonilla, MB Sports Photography

Srisikat Sor Rungvisai: Born Wisaksil Wangek, the Thai fighter dethroned the world’s number one pound for pound fighter, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, after two memorable fights in 2016. In March, Rungvisai knocked down Gonzalez for the first time in his career and won a competitive but disputed decision. Rungvisai left no doubt in their rematch in August, dropping Gonzalez again on the way to a fourth round knockout. Rungvisai will face Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada in the second edition of “Superfly 2” in February and continues to help put the smaller weight divisions on the map for boxing fans.

These are all worthy choices. In choosing Terence Crawford, we’re aware cynics question whether the belts really matter. If you watched the fight with Indongo, you know the answer. As for Crawford, he said, “You know, I’m the only one that can be labeled as champion at 140 pounds, and that’s important to me. There’s only going to be one name at the end of the day, and that’s Terence Crawford.

“It means everything. When you start boxing when you’re seven years old, that’s your dream to become world champion. And then to become something bigger than world champion, to go to the highest level you want to go to.”

Terence Crawford leaps in celebration after his third round knockout victory in August in Nebraska. Photo: Top Rank Boxing

Terence Crawford took his belts home, enjoyed the for a few months, then declared he would begin his quest again to become a unified champion by moving up to the 147-pound welterweight division where a whole new set of challenges wait for him, led by Keith Thurman, Errol Spence, Jr., and likely Jeff Horn. Even though he’s untested at 147, it’s hard to imagine any one else threatening Crawford. It speaks volumes about his drive or excellence. Many fighters could have coasted along for a while against easy challenges. Not Crawford. This is the icing on the cake for giving Terence Crawford Fighter of the Year honors for 2017.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. She is owner of the Falcon Valley Group based in San Diego, California. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

Copyright © 2018 by Falcon Valley Group


Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.