The Fighter Of The Year: Is It Naoya Inoue Or Terence Crawford?

Errol Spence vrs Terence Crawford

As the 2023 calendar year comes to a close, fight fans can look back and honestly say that we had a very entertaining year of boxing events and individual performances, but now is the time that boxing fans will pose the question of who is the fighter of the year.

When you think of fighters who looked impressive inside the squared circle in 2023, you think of names such as Devin Haney and Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez. However, when you have a discussion about the 2023 Fighter of the Year, that particular conversation boils down to two names: Naoya Inoue and Terence Crawford. On the night of August 19, 2017, Terence Crawford stepped inside the ring as the WBC, WBO light-welterweight champion. He would go on to defeat the WBA and IBF champion, Julius Indongo, via 3rd round knockout and become the undisputed world champion in the 140-pound division. Crawford would proceed to move up and win a world title in the welterweight division when he stopped Jeff Horn in the ninth round. Three months later, Crawford was involved in a backstage confrontation that captured the eyes and imagination of many fight fans.

After the Maurice Hooker vs Alex Saucedo fight, Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr had a face-to-face encounter backstage. The two fighters traded words, and fight fans were instantly ready to see a Spence vs Crawford clash, but unfortunately, the fans would have to wait for five long years. Finally, in July 2023, the undefeated WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford faced the undefeated WBA, WBC, and IBF champion Errol Spence.

The fight was a one-sided affair as Terence Crawford scored a ninth round TKO victory. With the win, Terence “Bud” Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) became the first male boxer in the four-belt era to achieve the status of undisputed in two different weight classes. On the strength of his mega-fight victory, Crawford’s name has been mentioned for Fighter of the Year. His main competitor for Fighter of the Year honors is the man from Japan, Naoya “The Monster” Inoue. The undefeated four-division world champion has posted two impressive victories in 2023.

Back in December 2022, the unified bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue defeated the WBO champion Paul Butler by way of 11th round knockout and won the undisputed crown. A month later, Inoue relinquished his titles in order to move up to super-bantamweight.

In his first bout in his new weight class, Inoue won the WBC and WBO straps when he beat the previously undefeated champion Stephen Fulton via eighth-round TKO. Inoue would conquer the division in his next bout when he knocked out Marlon Tapales. With his win over Tapales, Naoya Inoue (26-0, 23 KOs) became the second male boxer in the four-belt era to win the undisputed crown in two divisions.

Terence Crawford did it in a six-year period, but Naoya Inoue achieved it in a span of 378 days. Now that the boxing calendar year has concluded, the question is, who is the 2023 boxer of the year? Is it Naoya Inoue or Terence Crawford? In Terence Crawford’s only ring appearance, he dismantled his arch-rival, who at the time, was at the top of the pound-for-pound list.

On the other hand, Naoya Inoue moved up in weight, and he conquered the division by winning the undisputed crown in a five-month period. He won two belts when he defeated

Stephen Fulton in July, and then Inoue proceeded to collect the other two belts when he beat Marlon Tapales in December. When it comes down to deciding the fighter of the year, it all depends on what weighs more. Does Terence Crawford’s victory over Spence outweigh Naoya Inoue’s two victories over two unified champions?


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