By: Sean Crose
Many had expected him to win the fight, but no one expected the man to win in such a stunningly one sided fashion. Still, there he was, making easy work of WBC, WBA, and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence last July, not only only dominating his man, but almost literally beating the game Spence to a pulp. It was indeed a crowning performance for the 39-0 WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford, one which had been a long time in coming. “I worked my ass off to where I got today,” Crawford, the newly crowned undisputed welterweight champion, said at the post-fight press conference.
Those words can apply today as well as they did that evening last summer, for Crawford is now Boxing Insider’s 2023 Fighter Of The Year, an honor he “worked his ass off” for. The truth is that Crawford had some tough competition in the lead up to being crowned 2023’s best, that competition coming in the form of a certain undisputed junior featherweight world champion by the name of Naoya Inoue. Make no mistake about it, choosing between Nebraska’s Crawford and Japan’s Inoue was no easy task. Both men, after all, devastated the competition this past year, Crawford by crushing Spence, and Inoue by demolishing both Marlon Tapales and Stephen Fulton, top competitors both.
What allowed Crawford to earn the top spot, however, was the magnitude of his victory over Spence, as well as those naysayers who claimed he wouldn’t earn it. Nayoa won his second undisputed world championship this past year (that’s right, the guy has actually succeeded at the monumental task of earning two), but his dominance has rarely, if ever, been in question. The winner of the long awaited Crawford-Spence match, however, was never clear…as least not until Crawford fully took over after dropping Spence in the second. By the time the bout was halted in the ninth, the outcome of the fight had morphed from a question mark into a forgone conclusion.
Now there’s no one around to deny that Spence is one of the all time greats in an all time great division (oh, there’s always going to be someone out there denying the greatness of another, but Crawford’s bona fides are now no longer in doubt). There have been some great names at welterweight: Robinson, Leonard, Hears, Mayweather, and Pacquiao to name but a few. And now the name of Crawford is on that list. Esteemed company to be sure. And reason enough for Crawford to be crowned 2023’s Fighter Of The Year.
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