Terence Crawford came into 2017 on a mission to unify the Junior Welterweight division. In December of 2016, he defeated John Molina, Jr. by TKO in the eighth round in what was a dominating performance for Crawford in front of his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
At that point, Crawford held the WBC and WBO junior welterweight titles. After being out the ring for nearly five months, Crawford took a tune-up fight against the formidable Dominican southpaw Felix Diaz who at the time was 19-1 with 9 KOs.
Crawford showcased his considerable skills at Madison Square Garden, doing pretty much whatever he wanted against a brave but outclassed Felix Diaz.
Boxing from a left-handed stance, Crawford bedeviled Diaz with right-handed jabs, setting him up for ripping combinations. Crawford’s savvy footwork enabled him to fight at whatever distance he wanted and create advantageous punching angles.
Diaz, 33, just couldn’t get close enough frequently enough to do much damage. When he did get within range, Diaz was usually ineffective, and his wild swipes missed the mark more often than not.
Crawford, on the other hand, was incredibly accurate, mixing his punches well and making especially good use of uppercuts on the inside. Diaz’s eyes began to swell as early as the fourth round, and if it were not for his courage and durability, the fight would not have lasted as long as it did.
In the end, it was up to Diaz’s trainer, Joel Diaz, to do the sensible thing and tell referee Steve Willis to stop the fight, which he did at the end of the 10th round, giving Crawford a TKO victory.
Next up for Crawford in 2017 was his long-awaited unification bout against fellow undefeated junior welterweight – the Namibian born – Julius Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs). Crawford’s performance was one that placed him firmly in the conversation for best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
He dropped Indongo with left hand late in the second round. In the third round he put him away with a devastating left hand to the body that put Indongo down and out. He was writhing in pain as referee Jack Reiss counted him out at 1 minute, 38 seconds. With the victory Crawford became only the second fighter of the four-belt era to unify all four major sanctioning organization titles, taking Indongo’s IBF and WBA belts to add to his WBO and WBC. The only other fighter to unify the four belts was Bernard Hopkins in 2004, and then Jermain Taylor took them all in one night from Hopkins.
Shortly after defeating Indongo, Crawford announced that he would vacate all of his junior welterweight titles and step up to the welterweight division, which is packed with talent – including Keith Thurman, Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Manny Pacquiao, Kel Brook and Lamont Peterson. It is rumored that Top Rank’s Bob Arum, has Crawford slated to fight Australia’s Jeff Horn, who defeated Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision in a what many are calling a robbery, because the fight was in Horn’s home country. There is no doubt that Crawford has the skill and boxing IQ to become a force in the division. We look forward to seeing what Crawford does in 2018.
On behalf of the team at Eightcount, congratulations to Terence Crawford on being named Eightcount.tv’s 2017 FIGHTER OF THE YEAR.