Terence Crawford had a superb 2014. He won a lightweight world title by going to Ricky Burns' home turf in Scotland and made two defenses against quality opponents -- former unified featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa and Raymundo Beltran -- winning each fight in impressive fashion.
It was such a good year that Crawford was named the ESPN.com and Boxing Writers Association of America fighter of the year. Now the trick is to see if he can keep it going in 2015.
Crawford will make his 2015 debut by moving up to the junior welterweight division and taking on Puerto Rico's Thomas Dulorme for a vacant world title on April 18 (HBO, 9:45 p.m. ET/PT) at the College Park Center on the campus of the University of Texas Arlington in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
The fight will open a split-site card that will also include the much-anticipated junior welterweight battle between sluggers Ruslan Provodnikov (27-3, 17 KOs) and Lucas Matthysse (36-3, 34 KOs) on the telecast from the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
"I will be stronger and more powerful at 140. I always aim to be the best fighter in any division I'm in," Crawford said Thursday at a news conference in Arlington to formally announce the bout. "Winning the BWAA award makes me even more hungry and determined."
Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs), 27, of Omaha, Nebraska, has fought in the junior welterweight division several times, but Dulorme is the naturally bigger man, having fought many of his fights in the 147-pound welterweight division before moving down in weight.
Although few will argue that Crawford is the more talented fighter, Dulorme's size and power advantage could be an issue.
"The 2014 fighter of the year Terence Crawford, to his liking, and everyone else's liking, gets to eat a little more while he moves up to 140 pounds," said Carl Moretti, vice president of Top Rank, Crawford's promoter. "But when you do that, you take on bigger and stronger fighters, and that's what he has in front of him on April 18 -- a guy that is a welterweight that has to make 140 pounds."
Said Gary Shaw, Dulorme's promoter: "Dulorme is a tweener, going back and forth between 140 and 147, so we feel we will have the size advantage in this fight. Not only are we getting a chance to win a world title, but we are getting the chance to beat the reigning fighter of the year.
"Terence Crawford is considered one of the best lightweights in boxing, but he is moving up to junior welterweight where he will face a very determined and talented Thomas Dulorme, who's undefeated at 140 pounds. I smell an upset in the making."
Crawford downplayed the size aspect of the match. To him, size doesn't matter.
"I am ready to do bigger and better things at 140," he said. "I've been at 140 before, with [big puncher contender Breidis] Prescott, and it didn't affect me at all. In fact, I feel it will make my performance better come fight night.
"This fight is going to be fun. I can already tell. For one, he thinks he is going to be the bigger, stronger guy in the ring, which I don't believe. He's not. Come fight time I will show everybody. I will be in control. It's going to be a great fight, and I look forward to getting my hand raised at the end."
Crawford went on to tell Dulorme directly, "Come prepared because I am going to be ready. [The fans] should expect a spectacular victory. This is my second world title at a different weight, and I am really going to be up for it. I will be prepared. I am always ready and prepared for any fight."
Dulorme (22-1, 14 KOs), 25, has won six fights in a row since he was stopped in the seventh round by Argentine contender Luis Carlos Abregu in October 2012. In his last two bouts, Dulorme has defeated the most notable opponents of his career, winning 10-round decisions against then-undefeated Karim Mayfield last March and Hank Lundy in December.
Those fights, however, came with elite trainer Robert Garcia in his corner. They have since parted ways. Dulorme said he is ready for a step up against a fighter of Crawford's caliber.
"I have seen Terence Crawford fight and have studied him very well and I know his weaknesses and his strengths," Dulorme said. "He is a good boxer, but I am more than capable of winning this fight. I am very motivated for the opportunity of winning a world title, and I will not let my fans down and will take this belt back to Puerto Rico.
"I am happy that this fight is in Texas because I will have the support of all the Latino fans that live here in this area. I am looking forward to a great fight and to becoming a world champion. I will be the bigger, stronger fighter in the ring. I will be comfortable inside the ring and not only use my power but fight with intelligence against Crawford."
Bryan McIntyre, Crawford's trainer and co-manager, tried to stir things up with Dulorme, telling him, "The Mexicans, the Puerto Ricans, the Colombians, the Dominicans, they can't help you fight, bro. I am not trying to be disrespectful, but this is between you and Terence. Terence is a throwback fighter. He has hands of stone, can fight on the inside and outbox you. He is a winner in everything he does in life. May the best man win."