Before his fight against Yuriorkis Gamboa last June, Terrence Crawford had not fought in front of his hometown fans at Omaha, Nebraska. On Saturday night, he gets to do so for the second consecutive fight. But this time, the stakes are higher as much is expected from the star that was born in Omaha.

A Star was Born

The state of Nebraska had not seen a boxing world title fight since 1972 when the great Joe Louis knocked out hometown boy Ron Santander in five rounds to retain his heavyweight world title. 42 years later, they didn’t just see a world title fight. They witnessed the birth of boxing’s new star.

Omaha’s own Terrence Crawford put on a dazzling boxing show in front of 10,973 paying hometown fans and handed former world titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa the first loss of his professional career. Crawford knocked Gamboa four times in the fight and stopped him in the 9th round to retain his WBO lightweight championship. But Crawford didn’t just put Gamboa on the canvass multiple times, he totally outclassed the former 2004 Olympic flyweight champion and dominated him like we’ve never seen before.

Sealing the Deal

Crawford hopes to duplicate that performance on Saturday night against the tough-as-nails challenger Raymundo Beltran. Beltran himself has a solid stake on this WBO belt because he was robbed of this belt when he challenged Burns last year. Everyone can bet that he will be going all-out for a knockout rather than leave it to the judges in a hostile venue. Beltran’s no fluke too. As a former sparring mate of Manny Pacquiao, he has been in many tough battles.

However, a solid win for Terrence Crawford should put him on top of any conversation for the 2014 Fighter of the Year award because it has been a perfect 2014 for the undefeated Crawford. Last March 1, he traveled a thousand miles to Glasgow, Scotland to challenge and take away the WBO lightweight belt from Ricky Burns. Then last June 28, Crawford bewitched us with that star-making performance against Gamboa.

Sure Fireworks

Crawford-Beltran will be as explosive as Crawford-Gamboa because Beltran and Gamboa are almost the same breed. Beltran’s got legitimate knockout power, just ask Ricky Burns because Beltran broke his jaw in the second round of their 2013 bout. Beltran has 17 knockouts in 29 wins so that shows you how much power he packs in those fists.

But Crawford too is the owner of 17 knockouts in 24 wins. But Crawford doesn’t just rely on his punching power. In his last fight, he displayed precision punching and an air-tight defense that baffled Gamboa. Crawford’s ring generalship and natural ability to switch from orthodox to southpaw should pose a lot of problems for Beltran’s offense.

Oddsmakers have installed Crawford as the heavy favorite (-1100) mainly because of his better overall boxing skills and superior ring generalship. But while Beltran is a massive underdog (+700), he is a live opponent for Terrence Crawford in what should be one of the best action packed bouts of the year.