Boxing’s 2023 saw changing of the guards, incredible knockouts, plenty of upsets and long-awaited clashes, the peak of which was Errol Spence Jr versus Terence Crawford.
Given the time fans waited to see it, the four-belt welterweight bout was one of if not the highlight of the sport’s calendar year. For Crawford, it was also the crowning moment as perhaps the best fighter in the sport.
Spence – although backed by plenty of pundits and fellow fighters pre-fight – was beaten from the off, unable to get inside on his long-term rival without taking punishment.
‘Bud’ scored a knockdown in the second round and then two more in the seventh. Ultimately, the referee would step in during the ninth to wave it off in his favour – ending a night to forget for the battered and bruised Spence.
Many feel that standalone performance was worthy of the Fighter of the Year award, however others have given that particular plaudit to Naoya Inoue, who stepped up in weight and fought twice to become undisputed, like Crawford, in a second weight class.
Some feel Devin Haney’s defence of his four lightweight belts against Vasily Lomachenko before jumping up and winning Regis Prograis’ belt at 140 is most notable.
Spence, as much as he admits he doesn’t like it, said on social media in a since deleted post that the award should go to his rival.
“I don’t like it cause he won off me, but Terence Crawford should’ve won fighter of the year.”