Bryan Armen Graham: The Omaha fighter tabbed to succeed Mayweather as Americas next big stuff readies for his Madison Square Garden debut
The next large-scale happen in American boxing tumbled the restricted staircase of the Mendez Boxing Gym on Wednesday afternoon clad smartly in a pitch-black sweatsuit, off-color Creighton knit cap and duo of lily-white Kobe Xs. He fielded boilerplate queries from the modest gaggle of media, orbited by the dozen or so family members who trail him everywhere, before climbing into the ring and bouncing line absent-mindedly, a crumpled glob of Doublemint dangling from his gap-toothed smile. Just another epoch at the office.
Terence Crawford, the almost famous junior welterweight endorse of the world, was frequently cool ahead of Saturdays title fight at Madison Square Garden, gale through a light workout amid the blur of the actions of the subterranean Flatiron gym. The easy tenor was a striking contrast from simply minutes later when the challenger, a South Philadelphia boxer-puncher referred Hank Lundy, had replenished the chamber with blustery promises of Crawfords collapse Hes all nervous vigour! Ive went him right where I want him ! before vanishing into the gray downpour outside.
In his assessment Lundy is practically alone. He wasnt the first or third or even fifth alternative for Crawford, who is unbeaten in 27 professional contests and widely regarded as presumptive successor to Floyd Mayweather as Americas next pay-per-view hotshot. An entire squad of the 140 lb disagreements uppermost mentions passed on the invitation to face him, among them WBC titleholder Viktor Postol, Ruslan Provodnikov, Lucas Matthysse, Mauricio Herrera and even Manny Pacquiao, who opted for known length Timothy Bradley over the young lion from his own promotional stable. Oddsmakers have priced Lundy as a 10 -1 longshot, lending the party of the endorses New York City debut the repressed appear of a stay-busy campaign. Not that it concerns the Omaha native.
Im a fighter, he said. Im not a promoter and Im not a director so I leave that up to my administrator and my promoter and I exactly fight.
And how. The slight, sinewy Crawford is a highly intelligent and ended operator, dependent on no one feature. The tactical instinct and mental dexterity that sets him apart a preternatural feel of timing and distance, an uncanny ability to adjust to an adversary throughout a fight and cause or change his game plan as needed might not provoke the primal suspicion of a Gennady Golovkin or a Sergey Kovalev, other favourite claimants to Mayweathers vacancy atop boxings pound-for-pound pecking order. But a scalpel can finish you just as decisively as a hammer.
Crawfords adaptability includes the capacity to change between southpaw and jewish-orthodox postures during the course of its fights. He delivers with evenly formidable capability and accuracy from either area, a ability he developed when he fractured his right hand in a school fight as an 11 th-grader and persisted at the gym despite the shed. That switch-hitting ability inordinately rare in society prizefighters was the difference-maker in Crawfords signature knockout of the gifted Cuban defector Yuriorkis Gamboa, where he floored the Olympic gold medalist immediately after swapping stances in the fifth round and thrice more before aiming it in nine. The wildly humorous scrap was the second largest of three wins during Crawfords breakthrough 2014, when he burst from obscurity to captivate fighter of the year honors, shortlisting himself among the worlds best irrespective of weight class.
The 32 -year-old Lundy, more of a gatekeeper than bona fide hopeful after loss in four of his last eight, has flashed his Philly credentials to throw the champion as a farm son out of his penetration, but Crawfords formative suffers refuse the cornfed stereotypes of flyover country. He existed a gunshot to the chief while sitting in his automobile after a dice recreation in September 2008. The bullet connected behind his right ear, their own lives saved exclusively because the closed backside opening adjusted the bullets trajectory. The sangfroid thats helped him so well between the ropes immediately knocked in: he drove himself to the emergency room while announcing their own families along the way to let them know what happened.
The near miss, which expensed him a fight that would have been his television entry, prompted his evacuation from the Omaha streets and a wholesale recommitment to his ship thats paid off handsomely. Now one of HBOs most prized assets, he will earn a career-high pocketbook of $1.21 m for Saturdays bout.( Lundy will compile $150,000.)
Crawfords growth has inspired largesse both at home and abroad, merely widening his scope as his chart was an increase. He opened the B& B Boxing Academy in his hometown to help keep at-risk children off the street and has started on philanthropic operations to Uganda and Rwanda with a former elementary-school teacher. Hes too fetched championship boxing back to his hometown, drawing near-capacity crowds in three deed fights at Omahas 18,320 -seat CenturyLink Center, where native son Warren Buffett has become a gallery regular.
The tempered magnitude of impediment underpinning Saturdays fight might not move Crawford any closer to the crossover stardom he seems attach for, but it could be the last chance to watch one of the boasts best good without plunking down $60 for the privilege.
Im looking forward to putting on a great performance, he said. Its ever special to fight.