CRAWFORD BWAA FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
With three impressive victories against highly credible opponents in 2014, Omaha, Neb., native Terence “Bud” Crawford served notice that he has arrived as one of boxing’s newest and most exciting stars. But perhaps his most significant victory for the year just past comes nearly two months into 2015, with the announcement that the WBO lightweight champion has been named the winner of the Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year Award from the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs), who is expected to relinquish his WBO lightweight championship at some point as he moves up in weight, takes on formidable Puerto Rican super lightweight Thomas Dulorme (22-1, 14 KOs) on April 18 in a non-title fight that will be televised by HBO at a yet-undisclosed location, which likely will be his hometown of Omaha. He will receive his Fighter of the Year Award at the BWAA’s 90th annual Awards Dinner in New York City, an event which many have described as the “Academy Awards of Boxing.”
The remainder of the BWAA award winners will be released on Wednesday.
“It’s a surprise to me because that’s something I never thought I’d be able to accomplish,” Crawford said of his selection as the BWAA Fighter of the Year. “Now that it’s happened, it kind of feels like it’s not real. But I will say that my performance in the ring on those three nights last year brought the best out of me. I was as sharp as I could be. Everything fell into place at the right time.
“And I’m looking for a big year again in 2015. I’m going to continue taking the biggest and best fights out there. I don’t want to take no step down. I want to prove I’m the best fighter in and around my division, and one of the best in any division. To be great, you got to set your sights on the Pacquiaos and the Mayweathers. Those are the kind of guys I want to fight, and beat.”
Crawford wrested the WBO 135-pound title from Ricky Burns on a 12-round unanimous decision last March 1 in Glasgow, Scotland. But his biggest splash came on June 28 when, before a boisterous crowd of 10,943 in Omaha’s CenturyLink Arena, and with an HBO audience looking on, he floored 2004 Olympic gold medalist and former WBA/IBF featherweight titlist Yuriokis Gamboa four times en route to a ninth-round stoppage. He followed that up with a dominating unanimous decision over a tough challenger, Ray Beltran, pitching a near-shutout by scores of 119-109 (twice) and 120-108. Again, Crawford’s Omaha fans turned out in force, some 11,127 strong, in support of their local hero.
An avid student of vintage fight tapes, Crawford – who began boxing when he was seven years old – admits to studying the moves of such accomplished fighters as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Ike Quartey. He has added a little bit of those greats to his own expanding repertoire, but the end result is uniquely Crawford.
“I always want to learn,” he said. “I’d watch those tapes and try to soak up as much as I could. I never wanted to be one-dimensional, like a lot of fighters are.”
In a very close vote, Crawford edged out WBO/WBA/IBF light heavyweight champ Sergey Kovalev, who also was 3-0 in 2014, including a wide points nod over the legendary Bernard Hopkins. Other finalists for the BWAA FOY Award were Gennady Golovkin, Naoya Inoue, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto.