By Jake Donovan
More than two years after making his HBO debut in a bout that took place at 140 lbs., Terence Crawford returns to the weight after enjoying a breakthrough run during his time spent in between at the lightweight division.
The unbeaten boxer from Omaha officially abandons the 135 lb. weight class, as he vies for a vacant 140 lb. belt in a scheduled 12-round battle with Thomas Dulorme. Their bout airs live on HBO from Arlington, Texas.
The past 12 months have been the best of Crawford’s career, with three title wins going a long way in gaining recognition from many publications as 2014 Fighter of the Year. He will receive such honors next Friday when the Boxing Writer’s Association of America holds its annual awards dinner in New York City.
Meanwhile, he has a fight in front of him.
Crawford proved to be able to handle any challenge in 2014, with his three wins coming in a variety of ways. The year kicked off with a title winning effort on the road, traveling to Scotland to unseat Ricky Burns last March.
Three months later saw a watershed moment for HBO Boxing, with the network bringing its cameras to Omaha, Neb. for the first time in its more than 40 years of covering the sport. The occasion was complemented by one of the best fights of the year, when Crawford outlasted Yuriorkis Gamboa, overcoming a slow start to repeatedly drop and eventually stop the unbeaten Cuban in their sensational war last June.
Crawford’s homecoming played to a sold-out crowd of nearly 11,000, a number that was eclipsed by his return. Additional seats were opened up for his 12-round win over Raymundo Beltran last November, a night that crowned Crawford as the World lineal lightweight champion, and thus capping a banner year.
Alas, his epic struggle to squeeze into a 135 lb. uniform meant his reign would be short lived.
If Dulorme has his way, there won’t be a second title reign to speak of for his opponent.
The rangy boxer from Puerto Rico had a favorable 2014 campaign of his own, though one more along the lines of fighting his way back into respectability. Dulorme is riding a six-fight win streak, but struggled to draw attention away from the one loss on his mark—a 7th round knockout at the hands of Luis Carlos Abregu, a setback convincing enough to declare the 140 lb. division as his new home.
A pair of HBO-televised wins went a long way in getting fans to once again take Dulorme seriously. The 25-year old came up big in a 10-round decision over previously unbeaten KArim Mayfield last March, followed up by a gutsy split decision win over Hank Lundy last December.
Saturday’s bout marks his first challenge of a major title.
Can Crawford pick up where he left off in taking his career to new heights? Or can Dulorme once again serve up an upset special?
Read on to see how the staff at BoxingScene.com believes the action will play out.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: TERENCE CRAWFORD vs. THOMAS DULORME
Jake Donovan (Crawford UD): A decent test for Crawford’s first fight back at 140, also just enough to bide his time while waiting for bigger fights to materialize. Dulorme talks a good game, but has an uphill battle in pulling off the upset.
Lyle Fitzsimmons (Crawford UD): Dulorme might be good enough to beat 99.9 percent of the 140-pounders in the world, but Crawford’s something special. Another win for the sport’s best emerging fighter.
David Greisman (Crawford UD): This isn't a gimme fight for Crawford. Dulorme's good and is a naturally larger man. But something just seems to be missing in his game, while Crawford continues to show new nuances and elements every time out. Crawford will take some fire but will adjust en route to a unanimous decision.
Steve Kim (Crawford UD): In a fight that might look a lot like his bout with Breidis Prescott, I think Crawford out-boxes Dulorme over 12.
Peter Lim (Crawford UD): This should be a walk in the park for Crawford who edges Dulorme in every key aspect of the game - speed, power, ring IQ and level of opposition. The sharp-shooting Nebraskan will dictate the action regardless of whether the Puerto Rican chooses to box or brawl. But Crawford isn't much of a risk taker and he'll opt to cruise to a lopsided decision rather than go for the knockout.
John MacDonald (Crawford UD): I'd be surprised to see Crawford as aggressive as he was against Yuriorkis Gamboa. Instead, I expect to see him stick to his boxing and win a wide unanimous decision.
Takahiro Onaga (Crawford TKO11): Crawford in league above Dulorme who look mentally weak. Dulorme maybe have good start but be stopped late.
Cliff Rold (Crawford Dec): Crawford won't be boiling down and has a frame well suited to at least 140. I think the extra pounds make him even quicker and stronger, allowing him to put together an impressive performance.
Victor Salazar (Crawford UD): Crawford will be making his 140 lb. debut against a formidable opponent. This fight would have been more intriguing had Dulorme stuck with Robert Garcia. Crawford’s skill will be too much for Dulorme in the long run.
Reynaldo Sanchez (Dulorme UD): Dulorme has faced stronger rivals than Crawford, even at welterweight. Gamboa, really a super featherweight was able to hurt him and I think this situation will affect Terence. Crawford will be in a fight where he won’t have natural size advantages in their favor and that will be decisive.
Alexey Sukachev (Crawford UD): It's just what it is: a supreme boxer against an average boxer-puncher. Dulorme is a quality contender but I doubt that he is of the championship quality. Crawford will box his ears off as was the case with Prescott.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox