HBO Boxing Year End Picks: Fighter of the Year

Terence crawford - Photo: Ed Mulholland

Terence crawford - Photo: Ed Mulholland

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 fighter who had the best year on the network.

More: Boxing's Year End Picks

Kieran Mulvaney: Terence Crawford

Sergey Kovalev came close, and the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Nicholas Walters and Gennady Golovkin deserve honorable mentions, but Crawford fought more often – against a consistently higher quality of opposition – than them all and deserves this prize. After taking a lightweight belt from Ricky Burns in Scotland, he came home to Omaha to stop Yuriorkis Gamboa and then returned to the Gateway to the West to score a comprehensive decision win over Ray Beltran. Not only that, he did so by marrying pound-for-pound boxing skills to a crowd-pleasing aggression and a flat-out fondness for digging his toes into the canvas and mixing it up.

Eric Raskin: Sergey Kovalev

Here's the thing: Terence Crawford is going to be my actual pick for 2014 Fighter of the Year. But one of his three wins, against Ricky Burns, was not televised by HBO. All three of Kovalev's wins were. So when you take away the Burns fight, I believe Kovalev had the slightly better year on HBO. No, his first two wins—over Cedric Agnew and Blake Caparello—weren't worth much. But his third win, a shutout (and near knockout) of Bernard Hopkins, sure was.

Hamilton Nolan: Sergey Kovalev

Fighter of the Year-- Sergey Kovalev. I'm tempted to say Golovkin. But Kovalev had three wins capped off with a domination of Bernard Hopkins, whereas Golovkin (though it's not his fault) still hasn't been challenged.

Nat Gottlieb: Sergey Kovalev

Light Heavyweight Sergey Kovalev made three title defenses in the year, capped off by a dominant performance over Bernard Hopkins. Kovalev is seasoned, skilled, focused, and active. Hard qualities to beat.

Oliver Goldstein: Terence Crawford

"Bud" wins Fighter of the Year for me, largely by default: he fought (three times), he traveled (to Scotland!), and he won. Though Ricky Burns, Ray Beltran, and a bloated Yuriorkis Gamboa are no murderer's row, Crawford deserves praise for the ease with which he picked off his two gentler opponents (Burns and Beltran), and for the excitement he conjured against Gamboa. For a while now, it has seemed a bad time to be an American fighter not named Floyd Mayweather; but with a committed following in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, and much talent to boot, Crawford should help lead a generational shift. Set to move up to light-welterweight next year, a bout with Manny Pacquaio cannot be far away.

Tim Smith: Terence Crawford

He stamped himself as a future star with his convincing 9th round KO over Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Diego Morilla: Gennady Golovkin

Golovkin's eruption in the stacked middleweight division a couple of years ago was nothing short of spectacular, and he continued his march towards universal recognition as 160-pound king and pound-for-pound superstar with a memorable 2014 in which he dispatched two solid contenders in demolishing fashion. His stoppage of rugged Aussie Daniel Geale was a testimony of his boxing ability and athleticism while it lasted, and the final punch (delivered a few milliseconds after being hit with a punch that would have knocked anyone else out cold) that sent Geale down for the count is destined to become a highlight in its own right within his already amazing highlight reel. A must-see fighter in his absolute prime. 

Michael Gluckstadt: Gennady Golovkin

2014 is the year we started taking Golovkin for granted. We came to his fights expecting spectacular KOs and he regularly delivered them with his trademark Kazakh casualness. He made warriors of the sport look like cannon fodder – something Sergey Kovalev has only done with, well, cannon fodder. We haven't seen Gennady tested yet, but that's only because he's a level above anyone who'll get in the ring with him. No one looked better in the ring this year than Gennady Golovkin.