Fighter of the Year for 2017—A Pair of Aces

By Marc Livitz on December 27, 2017
Fighter of the Year for 2017—A Pair of Aces
Either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko deserves the title of “Fighter of the Year.”

Let’s quickly inspect the respective 2017 résumés of the fighting man from Nebraska alongside that of the masterful ring maestro from Ukraine…

As the final week of 2017 comes to a close, it’s likely safe to say that there won’t be any professional fights between now and December 31 to shake up the pot in regards to who may hold the honor of the year’s top boxer. Neither name will be mentioned as part of “Fight of the Year” or necessarily “Event of the Year” by any stretch. All things as they are and indeed nothing more than subjective, many agree that either Terence “Bud” Crawford or Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko should grab the acclaim as 2017’s “Fighter of the Year.” Without getting into oceans of detail or penning an article that can soon be made available in audiobook format, let’s quickly inspect the respective 2017 résumés of the fighting man from Nebraska alongside that of the masterful ring maestro from Ukraine.

Let’s keep in mind the level of competition in addition to the amount of risk taken with each opponent. To be fair and without getting ahead of ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that any trip to the ring involves a great deal of risk. Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KO’s) stuck to his promise to clean out the junior welterweight division and jumped high into the air after he accomplished that exact feat with a third round knockout of Julius Indongo at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska this past August.

With the win, “Bud” Crawford was now the proud owner of the WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF super lightweight titles. The bout itself was hardly a contest and even long before it, more than a few boxing scribes and more importantly boxing fans knew that Crawford’s biggest challenges likely awaited him seven pounds to the north as a welterweight. In any case, it’s often a fighter’s dream to be the absolute best in the division and rightly so, what better way to do so than to have each and every sanctioned championship within it? We can only hope that no other group decides to splash enough cash to create a new organization with a new title to be its crowning achievement, correct? If we’re sticking to just this year, we’ll quickly examine the two contests in which Crawford took part.

He dismantled Felix Diaz last May at Madison Square Garden. Keep in mind that Diaz was a two-time Olympian for his native Dominican Republic and he captured a gold medal at the Beijing Games in 2008. Crawford toyed with him and fought much of the contest in a southpaw stance as if he were sparring for fun during a free weekend. He pummeled Diaz for ten rounds until the bout was mercifully stopped by Felix’s corner.

Three months later, “Bud” made Julius Indongo feel as if he’d stolen something from him in Manhattan. With the exception of his bout with Crawford and the two which had preceded it, Indongo had never fought outside of his native land of Namibia and he hardly looked as if he was the best that could be offered by any part of the light welterweight class. Either he was just that overrated or more to the point, Crawford was just that much better. Smart money is on the latter.

Now we’ll quickly look at Vasyl Lomachenko, who fought three times in 2017. The first outing was against Jason Sosa at the new MGM Grand National Harbor on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. The nine rounds elapsed in Maryland were but target practice sessions for the double gold medalist from Ukraine. There were even portions of the bout when “Hi-Tech” playfully held out his arms to either side of his body as if he were a matador in Spain waving a red apron to effectively tease his bovine foe into a contest. Sosa’s corner stopped the bullfight after twenty-seven minutes in the ring had expired.

Four months later, Manuel Marriaga was made to feel content with being embarrassed on ESPN when he squared off against Lomachenko in Los Angeles. Marriaga was able to land a left hook upstairs at one point early on in the contest, after which Lomachenko’s unanswered as well as indefensible shots sounded much like a popcorn machine. Straight lefts resulted in knockdowns of Manuel in the third round and once again in the seventh. His corner indicated the Colombian fighter would fight “no mas.”

All of this, of course, now brings us to what we witnessed a bit less than three weeks ago. Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KO’s) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KO’s) met in New York City for what was billed as the first-ever matchup between a pair of two-time Olympic gold medalists. Additionally, the respective amateur records of Lomachenko and his Cuban expat opponent boasted nearly eight hundred victories against very few defeats. Whether written on a cocktail napkin or a stories-high billboard, this contest was supposed to have it all.

Once a few rounds were in the record books, however, only one man had it all. Lomachenko frustrated, agitated and basically forced one of the absolute purest fighters in the world to quit. Jason Sosa lasted longer than Rigondeaux. The contest with “El Chacal” was over after six rounds of one-sided showmanship on the part of Vasyl Lomachenko. Of course, it can be noted that Rigondeaux jumped two weight classes, from super bantamweight to super featherweight to face “Hi-Tech,” yet most of us expected Guillermo to give his Ukrainian adversary perhaps the toughest challenge of his career. To date, it seems as if the only man able to shake up Lomachenko was back in March of 2014, when a crafty veteran in Orlando “Siri” Salido used his bag of ring savvy and street knowledge to teach young Vasyl a lesson.

So, there you have it. Either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko deserves the title of “Fighter of the Year” for 2017. Not Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Anthony Joshua or Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The fight, event or upset of the year are different categories. Where do you stand on the matter?

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  1. Andre Roussimoff 08:13am, 12/30/2017

    I stand corrected!

  2. raxman 03:53am, 12/30/2017

    Andre Roussimoff - I think you’re remembering me as someone else. I’m a huge KT fan. Huge. I’ve watched loads of his fights. My criticism has been of the mans actions outside the ring. I think the broken English gave an impression of a mr nice guy when he was as ruthless outside the ring as inside - check out Johnny Lewis’ bio and the stuff - on record from court actions - re his relationship with Bill Mordey and JL himself
    But I don’t even care about him as a person. I loved him as a fighter. I saw him live at the 91 worlds (not in the gold medal match but twice on the way to it) and I think he’s one of the best 140pounders of all time. I’m critical of how he finished his career, thinking he could fight a prime Hatton when he’d only fought 3 rounds in nearly 2.5years - and I think he could’ve pursued Mosley and Mayweather a bit harder but they weren’t exactly lining up to fight him either so we can put that down to the modern way of the sport
    No mate you’ve got me confused. I love KT and having to think about for this reply has made me think back, and I think your confusing my criticism of GGG in which I used - given they had similar amateur pedigrees - KT as an example of how a gun amateur should turn pro. Not getting pro acclimated by taking 20+ fights vs C & B graders like GGG did (his first live 160 pound opponent was Jacobs) but with 10 fights like KT

  3. Andre Roussimoff 09:31am, 12/29/2017

    Tewa Kiram will KO Matthysse! @raxman-In light of the way in times past that you discounted Kostya Tszyu’s accomplishments it’s no surprise that you would do the same with Lomachenko. Tszyu was the greatest fighter ever to come up from Oz and whether he was native born or not means diddly squat!

  4. Koolz 03:06pm, 12/28/2017

    Sor Rungvisai Should get it!  He didn’t just beat P4P he destroyed him!
    An amazing KO! 

  5. Lucas McCain 12:28pm, 12/28/2017

    raxman:  Up there in skill level, but of course not in accomplishments.  In fact, probably never in the latter, since there are no Durans, Haglers, or Hearnses around.

  6. tuxtucis 12:28pm, 12/28/2017

    @Raxman When I choose my fighter of the year I have to count the scoring of a match, if i think was wrong, and I think first match Sor Rungvisai vs Gonzalez was. About the Nicaraguan i think at 115 he was far from his best, as it showed vs Cuadras, in a match I think he was outboxed. So I think Sor Rungvisai win over Chocolatito was not much different from the one of Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux…but I think the Ukrainian had better matches before in the year…

  7. raxman 11:33am, 12/28/2017

    Tuxtucis - but you can’t discount the result just because you disagree with it. Gonzales was a beast. beating everybody. considered the best fighter in the world and old mate Sor from Thailand beat him twice - the second time just monstered him!!!
    Joshua’s win over Vlad was a ripper fight but Vlad was old, coming off a loss, and Takam was second tier. Like Lomos opponents. an old small man and 2 second tier.
    if its not Wangek then the next best must be Usyk for beating Huck and the unbeaten but inexperienced Hunter

  8. tuxtucis 08:13am, 12/28/2017

    I’m not sure Sor Rungvisai won the first bout vs Gonzales: i’ve 8-4 for the Nicaraguan. I think second fight is obvious choice for ko of the year.
    As fighter of the year toss up between Joshua or Lomachenko.

  9. raxman 08:11pm, 12/27/2017

    Lucas McCain - I’ll leave Jofre out because he was before my time, but Lomo in the league of Leonard ? He’s a long way from proving that. its an understatement to say he’s got amazing talent, from a potential front he’s nothing but upside , however wins over Sosa, Marriaga and an undersized and old Riggondeaux may well put him in foty contention but it doesn’t put him into ATG status like Leonard. And Salido beat him. Salido! Leonard beat Hagler, Hearns, Duran,&  Benitez! Leonard is Leonard because he beat 4 guys that are amongst the best 135-160 pound fighters of all times! And is his prime only lost to an equally prime Duran
    Fighter of the Year has to be Wisaksil Wangek for mine. Chocalito was 46-0 and P4P #1or#2 depending on which list you looked at, and Wangek not only beat him by MD to take his “0” but then backed it up by stopping him in 4 in the rematched. Who accomplished a greater feat than that in 2017??? Not the high profile Lomanchenko or Crawford that’s for sure

  10. Lucas McCain 05:27pm, 12/27/2017

    P.S. Crawford is also well above Joshua.  If he gets the right matches, he’ll take it in 2018.

  11. Lucas McCain 02:19pm, 12/27/2017

    Joshua to me is still in “earn as you learn” phase, great to watch but not in the class of Lomachenko, who after 11 pro fights (and hundreds of amateur bouts) is up there with Leonard, Jofre, et al.  Can’t take Magno’s swaggering call for Joshua seriously.  He’s just being a provocative smart alec, as usual.

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