Undefeated, 2014 Fighter of the Year Terence Crawford returns to the ring Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, when he faces once-beaten Thomas Dulorme for the vacant WBO light welterweight title. This is one of the early spring fights that fans have been waiting for, as Crawford has the potential to develop into one of boxing’s next true superstars.
The Omaha native exploded onto the scene last year, traveling to Scotland in March to take the WBO lightweight title from tough, veteran champion Ricky Burns. Crawford defended the belt in June in his hometown against undefeated Cuban star Yuriorkis Gamboa. Crawford made some brilliant tactical adjustments in that bout to come from behind and stop Gamboa in sensational fashion in Round 6.
Crawford finished the year a perfect 3-0, beating rugged contender Raymundo Beltran. Crawford told me before the Gamboa fight that he thought it might be his last time at lightweight, and coming back down to the 135-pound limit for the Beltran bout was particularly arduous for him, so it’s no surprise to see him finally moving up to 140. On a media conference call today, Crawford said that it was “the right time to move up, before I had some serious problems.”
In an era when boxers seem to have decided that contracted weight limits are optional, Crawford’s deliberate approach to the matter comes across as refreshingly professional. But there is a lot that is refreshing about Crawford in today’s overhyped, media-saturated atmosphere. Crawford is a fighter brimming with quiet confidence. In the place of bluster, he displays genuine self-assuredness.
In response to a question on the call about whether or not he ever feels tempted to make noise on social media to generate more exposure for himself, Crawford stated “I don’t feel like I need to do that. That’s not me…I’m a showman in the ring. Outside of the ring, that’s just not me.”
And indeed, so long as he keeps turning in performances like last year, Crawford will need to do little else to keep generating media attention. He’s got an opponent who will definitely challenge him on Saturday night, while giving him the opportunity to look good. Thomas Dulorme of Puerto Rico has been a promising contender in his own right, even drawing comparisons to his legendary countryman, Felix Trinidad.
In his typical, understated manner, Crawford was modest yet confident in assessing his upcoming opponent: “He’s a good fighter. He’s got a good jab, a nice straight right. He has good movement…I don’t have nothing bad to say about him. But I feel like Saturday, I’ll make my adjustments and do what I need to do.”