NEW YORK (Feb. 25th, 2016) — The playful ribbing between Hank Lundy and Terence Crawford that began in mid-January continued at Thursday’s final press conference when Crawford’s trainer, Brian McIntyre — a former fighter himself — walked to the podium at Chase Square with a T-shirt that read, “I went to the Madison Square Garden and all I got was knocked out by Terrence Crawford,” an obvious jab at Lundy.
“These will be available for Hank and his team following the fight,” McIntyre deadpanned.
Team Lundy, led by CES Boxing president Jimmy Burchfield Sr., Lundy’s promoter, enjoyed a quick laugh at its own expense, with Burchfield taking the shirt, folding it carefully and placing it on his lap while McIntyre continued his monologue, merely an extension of the month-long social media war between the two sides.
Though the verbal back-and-forth has helped turned Saturday’s event into a near sellout — Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti reported only 23 tickets remain at the box office — Lundy (26-5-1, 13 KOs) is leaning on a more powerful source of motivation heading into the biggest fight of his life Saturday night in New York City.
“My babies are going to be right there,” Lundy said, referencing his daughters, Amiriah, 7; Adriana, 8; Amari, 10 and Aniyah, 12.
“This is the first time I’m going to battle in front of my four little queens and God knows the electricity, every punch I hit you with, you’re going to feel Philadelphia, you’re going to feel my pain, my struggle. You’re going to feel ‘Hammerin” Hank and you can guarantee come the 27th of February I’m going to be the new champion of the world.
Saturday’s 12-round showdown against the unbeaten Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs), the reigning World Boxing Organization [WBO] Junior Welterweight Champion, is the main event of HBO’s World Championship Boxing doubleheader, promoted by Top Rank and CES Boxing.
Written off by the press as the third or fourth choice for this fight by Crawford’s camp, Lundy’s quick wit and boastful pride have turned many fans onto what Burchfield says could be the “fight of the year” against the heavily-favored Omaha, Neb., native, who’s defended his world title four times since winning it in 2014.
“This is a great event,” Burchfield said. “You’re going to see a great fight Saturday night. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Lundy has taken fights on short notice in the past with mixed results, but he’s had two and a half months to prepare for Saturday’s world title bout and was ready the moment he got the call — “I was already on weight,” he said — a rare luxury for a fighter who’s climbed the ladder in two separate weight classes as a self-proclaimed “B-sider.”
“What’s the difference with this fight and the previous fights Hank has had? The difference is he’s had since December to train and get ready for this battle,” Burchfield said. “He’s had one of the best camps he’s ever had, so I think — I know — you’re going to see a great fight and you’re going to see the real Hank Lundy because he’s had time to get ready.
“Hank has never turned away from a fight. Never,” Burchfield continued. “When he signs a contract, he’s going to show up and he’s going to give it everything he’s got. He’s taken some fights on very short notice. His last 17 fights, he’s been in 13 different states and two different countries, but that hasn’t stopped him at all.”
Unlike most interviews or press gatherings, where Lundy tends to steal the spotlight, the Philadelphia native was unusually subdued Thursday, simply referencing his family and hard work leading up to this fight while eschewing the desire to “go on and on” or “talk your head off.” Lundy even refrained from barking back at McIntyre, whom he already went to war with several weeks ago via social media when he publically drudged up McIntyre’s less-than-stellar 7-14 record as a pro.
McIntyre, meanwhile, continued to pile on; five weeks after declaring he’d bet $10,000 on his own fighter during Top Rank’s introductory press conference in January, Crawford’s head trainer draped the anti-Lundy shirt over the front of the podium Thursday, suggesting, “I just want to give everyone a chance to read the gift we got for Team Lundy.
“I was going to take the low road and come to talk smack about Hank about how he wants to blast me on Facebook with him and his people,” McIntyre continued, “but I’m going to take the high road and seize this opportunity to say that I’m so excited to where I’m in tears for Terence, his sisters, his mom, his grandma. I’m also excited for the city [of Omaha] because they’re about to experience the good whooping Hank’s about to take.”
The typically reserved Crawford offered another backhanded compliment for Lundy, applauding him Thursday for giving “the best speech you gave the whole time you’ve opened your mouth.
“I respect that,” Crawford said, “because deep down in his heart he knows what he’s up against. I just take that as a sign of respect. If he doesn’t respect me now, he’ll respect me Saturday.
“It’s been a great camp. I feel good. I’m excited. The whole camp, I kept saying, ‘I can’t wait for this fight!’ It’s like a countdown. This dude doesn’t’ know what he’s gotten himself into. Everyone says, ‘I’m going to do this,’ or, ‘I’m going to do that to him,’ or, ‘I see a flaw in him,’ but when you get in front of me you see a different thing. Come Saturday, don’t blink, because it might be a quick one.”
Both sides have had ample opportunities to speak their piece and take shots at one another through the press and on social media. The real fight begins in 48 hours and Lundy is prepared to bring the world title back to Philadelphia, a fitting tribute to a consummate road warrior who’s paid his dues and taken the long road to the top.
“This fight is going to be electrifying,” Lundy said. “I just can’t wait until Saturday night. This is what I’ve been fighting for, to make my family, my kids, take them and give them a different lifestyle. It’s going to be war. I’m coming to win this world title.”
The Feb. 27th HBO doubleheader, which begins 10 p.m. ET, also features a 10-round WBO Latino lightweight title bout between reigning champion Felix Verdejo (19-0, 14 KOs) of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and unbeaten challenger William Silva (23-0, 14 KOs) of San Paolo, Brazil.