Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
Ricky Burns escaped 2013 with his world title, but his reputation certainly took a hit. In May, he was trailing on all the cards late in the fight against the relatively unknown Jose Gonzalez when Gonzalez quit with a busted hand.
In September, Burns retained his belt on a draw against veteran Raymundo Beltran. Burns showed tremendous heart in the fight, competing from Round 2 on with a busted jaw.
Nevertheless, in my opinion it was the worst judging decision of the year. Beltran should be the WBO lightweight champion of the world right now.
Burns is just 30, but his body has fought a lot of rounds, and his lanky 5'10" frame has endured training down to a 130 and 135 pounds for years. It's not impossible that his best days as a fighter are already behind him, especially considering the damage he took last September.
He'll need to get his pre-2013 form back in a hurry against Terence Crawford. Crawford is a former amateur standout and one of the hottest prospects in the sport. He is a great defensive fighter with dangerous offense.
The undefeated Crawford is probably taking a step up in competition against Burns, but it would be wrong to view him as completely untested. His last three opponents, Breidis Prescott, Alejandro Sanabria and Andrey Klimov, are all solid, world-class fighters, although only around a C grade.
Crawford stopped Sanabria in six rounds and beat Klimov and Prescott by one-sided decision. He's clearly ready for a world title shot.