HBO Boxing Year End Picks: Fight of the Year

Photo: Will Hart

Photo: Will Hart

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, HBO Boxing Insiders are taking a look back at 2014. Here, they make their selections for the best fight on the network.

More: Boxing Year End Picks

Kieran Mulvaney: Terence Crawford TKO9 Yuriorkis Gamboa

In front of a raucous, pro-Crawford crowd, two highly skilled prizefighters went at each other from the opening bell. Gamboa gained the upper hand over the first four rounds before Crawford began to turn it around, switching to a southpaw stance, using his reach to catch the shorter Gamboa with counterpunches, and ultimately dropping him once in both the fifth and eighth and finally – after Gamboa had wobbled him badly and gone on the attack – twice more in the ninth to bring about the stoppage.

Eric Raskin: Terence Crawford TKO9 Yuriorkis Gamboa

This is the easiest decision of all the HBO year-end awards. For drama and swings of momentum in a fight contested at a world-class skill level, nothing else came close. This was the night when Crawford, widely perceived as a colorless technician, revealed that he could be an action hero.

Hamilton Nolan: Terence Crawford TKO9 Yuriorkis Gamboa

Gamboa is one of the most insanely talented fighters in the world; Crawford is one of the best pure boxers in the world. Crawford won spectacularly, and with a surprising amount of violence.

Nat Gottlieb: Terence Crawford TKO9 Yuriorkis Gamboa

The Cuban came out hard and fast in the first couple rounds and it looked like maybe Crawford was in for a long night. But then Crawford switched from an orthodox stance to southpaw and knocked a gutsy Gamboa down four times en route to winning a thrilling brawl.  On this night a star was born.

Oliver Goldstein: Terence Crawford TKO9 Yuriorkis Gamboa

Perhaps not one for the ages, but likely good enough for this year at least. Gamboa started quickly, as "Bud" took time to adjust for the first time facing an opponent with similar handspeed. Nonetheless the fight's course turned in the fifth, when Crawford caught Gamboa on the end of a stiff right, before dropping him with a series of lefts.

Thereafter, Gamboa elected to trundle after the American, leaving his chin regularly exposed in search of an increasingly unlikely knockout, until Crawford unseated him three times more in the eighth and ninth. This was thrilling stuff, which ended when the Cuban was collapsed once more, swelling protruding from both eyes, by a perfect right. Vindication for both, as Gamboa proved his toughness, and Crawford emerged victorious.

Tim Smith: Terence Crawford TKO9 Yuriorkis Gamboa

It was a great opportunity for both men to step forward and make a statement and Crawford did it emphatically.

Diego Morilla: Manny Pacquiao W12 Timothy Bradley

Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised when a fight in which we didn’t place our highest expectations turns into a memorable barnburner. But some other times, amidst the hyperbole and ceaseless stream of pre-fight hype, we lose sense of how good certain fighters are. And oftentimes we allow the "slugfest of the year" to creep into our minds when we’re supposed to be looking at the overall performance. If we manage to do that, it would be easy to see why this fight was one of the best of the year. Back and forth action. Both fighters in danger at one point or another. Boxing skills and punching power ability in full display. Two hungry fighters with something to prove to each other and to the world of boxing, leaving everything in the ring. It may not be instantly remembered as a classic, but it had more than enough drama, emotion and action to get to the podium among this year’s best fights.

Michael Gluckstadt: Terence Crawford TKO9 Yuriorkis Gamboa

Before this fight, Crawford and Gamboa were clearly skilled fighters who sometimes bored, or grew bored, in the ring. This night in Omaha saw the two men bringing each other to another level. Gamboa showed he can mix it up with anyone, and that against the right opposition, he's capable of putting in real effort to go with his natural talent. Crawford proved that he can adjust on the fly, marry his technical skills with surprising power, and solve any boxing puzzle placed in front of him. Throw in the hometown atmosphere and a slew of knockdowns, and you end up with HBO's 2014 fight of the year.