Photos: Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
He’s a quiet guy, Terence Crawford. Doesn’t bluster, doesn’t boast, doesn’t shout, just says his piece in an understated Midwestern monotone and moves on. Hank Lundy – well, Hank Lundy is a little different. Grill firmly in place on his teeth, he has no hesitation in expounding his views, not least when those views are how his opponent’s record doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. And Lundy is not a stupid man; he knows what his odds are in Saturday night’s title tilt against Crawford at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. His one big hope is to talk enough smack about Crawford to get in the Nebraskan’s head, to push the undefeated rising star into throwing caution to the winds and bringing anger into the ring. Failing that: well, if he’s going to go down in flames, he may as well do so noisily.
The irony is that, after several weeks of barking in Crawford’s general direction, Lundy was relatively subdued at Thursday’s final pre-fight press conference, with not an insult to be heard. The fuse, however, had long been lit, and when the two men stood nose to nose for the traditional post-presser face off, Lundy jawed at Crawford, Crawford looked away and smiled a sinister smile, turned back to stare at his foe’s face, and promptly executed a perfect, two-handed shove to the sternum that sent the unsuspecting Pennsylvanian backward across the stage – where, and here we must give praise where it is due, veteran PR man Ed Keenan caught him with a seemingly effortless two-armed grab.
The crowd gasped, Crawford’s always voluble mother and sisters yelled, and Lundy smiled in the way that Senator Palpatine did with every step Anakin Skywalker took toward submitting to anger and embracing the Dark Side.
It is questionable, however, how much Lundy has truly burrowed inside Crawford’s psyche, as opposed to simply offending his sense of propriety. As Crawford told Tony Booth of his hometown Omaha World-Herald, “That’s his main objective — to get in my head. But he doesn’t understand that just makes me fight harder, makes me be better, makes me be sharper. I’m not just going to go in there and try to just knock him out. I’m going to go in there and do what I do. That’s what he doesn’t understand.”
It is a similar response to the one he had when Dierry Jean called him out and belittled him prior to their meeting last October; Crawford kept his counsel, clobbered Jean comprehensively, and then taunted him while they were still in the ring:
“Did you get what you was looking for?”
One gets the sense that Crawford – polite, generally unexcitable, appropriately respectful to his opponents – expects the same in return. If everybody gets along and plays nice, then he’ll dish out his customary whupping and everyone can go home richer. But if a demonstrably inferior opponent dares to talk down to him, then that whupping will be all the harsher. It brings to mind Mike Tyson’s incredulous lament: “How dare they challenge me with their primitive skills?”
There would be no repeat of the shenanigans at Friday’s weigh-in – the two principals weighed in separately, and organizers eschewed the face-off this time around – and that was probably just as well, given the extent to which the Crawford entourage had swelled over the previous 24 hours. But the truth of the matter is that Thursday’s contretemps isn’t bad for business: it gives an edge to what might otherwise be considered a one-sided affair, and it shows that Crawford has another side to his personality, a mean streak beneath the veneer of Nebraska nice.
Weights from New York:
Terence Crawford 139.2 lbs.
Hank Lundy 138.2 lbs.
Felix Verdejo 135 lbs.
William Silva 134.4 lbs.