Not only is Hank Lundy confident as ever heading into Saturday’s world title bout in New York City against champion Terence Crawford, he’s certain Crawford isn’t even the best fighter he’s faced, a bold statement considering his opponent’s spot on most experts’ pound-for-pound lists.
“Who has Terence fought? A [5-foot-2 Yuriorkis] Gamboa?” asked Lundy during a media conference call Tuesday before rattling off a long list of former opponents he feels are better than Crawford, among them Victor Postol, Ajose Olusegun and even Dannie Williams.
“What’s going to happen when he faces someone who can do the same things he can do? He’s nothing special.”
Philadelphia’s Lundy (26-5-1, 13 KOs) is less than a week away from the fight of his life, a 12-round showdown against Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs) at The Theater at Madison Square Garden for Crawford’s World Boxing Organization (WBO) Junior Welterweight Title in the main event of HBO’s World Championship Boxing doubleheader, promoted by Top Rank and CES Boxing.
Those who’ve followed Lundy’s career since he turned pro in 2008 know he’s never turned down a fight or turned away from the glare of the boxing media, even if it appears at times he’s bites off more than he can chew in the press.
Among the topics of discussions during Tuesday’s the conference call, the official kickoff to this week’s festivities in New York, Lundy addressed his improbable upbringing in Philadelphia, the difficulty of fighting as the perceived “B” side on highly-publicized cards and the inner strength to continue fighting through adversity.
Lundy is on the brink of fighting for a major world title for the first time in his career despite losing two of his last three fights and suffering discouraging setbacks against Mauricio Herrera and Thomas Dulorme. The fact he’s parlayed his tumultuous career into a title shot against one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters is a testament to what he calls “hard work and determination,” a byproduct of growing up in one of boxing’s most respected fight cities.
“‘Hammerin’ Hank wasn’t supposed to be here,” Lundy said, “but my drive, my goal to succeed in life, my will to make a better life for my [six daughters] got me here.
“There’s no tomorrow. I’m leaving everything in that ring. This man is going to have to knock me out to win.”
Lundy is a heavy underdog, a +1500 as of Tuesday (by comparison, Manny Pacquiao was a +160 underdog in his fight against pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather), but he’s banking on his past experience against elite fighters, many of whom he feels are better than Crawford, to carry him past the four-time defending champ.
While Lundy-Crawford has been panned as a second-rate fight in some circles because of the fact Lundy was reportedly the third or fourth choice among Crawford’s camp, Lundy’s promise of a knockout has made this must-see television for boxing fans.
Lundy has run the gauntlet at 135 and 140 pounds, including Postol, the reigning World Boxing Council (WBC) champion; Olusegun; Herrera; Dulorme; Williams; Raymundo Beltran and current World Boxing Association (WBA) Lightweight Champion Richar Abril, whom he beat in 2010. He considers the rangy, 5-11 Postol, now 28-0, the best he’s ever faced. The two fought in Russia in 2013 with Postol winning narrowly by unanimous decision despite Lundy’s claims that he dictated the pace.
“Victor is a better technician than Crawford. Crawford gets hit a lot,” Lundy said.
“What people have to look at with Terence, he switches up between righty and southpaw. OK. That’s what he does to throw people off, but in the midst of switching it up, he gets hit.
“Most of these guys get confused, but I’ve been watching him since he popped up on the scene at 135 [pounds]. Nothing has changed for me. He doesn’t impress me. When you’ve got the right guy in front of him that can do the things I can do, we’ll see if he can handle that. We’ll see how he adjusts. I’m battle-tested. He’s never faced anyone like me.
“Him against Postol? That’s a fight I’d like to see! After I clean him up, I’d like to see him fight Victor.”
Asked how he remains so confident despite having lost to two opponents Crawford already beat (Dulorme and Beltran), Lundy said, “When you think about it, the everyday struggle, for me to make it to where I’m at, me just going against adversity, doing what people tell me I can’t do, it’s my life story.
“I love it,” he continued. “When they put my back against the wall, I always come out on top, just like in life. I’m still in Philly. Not too many people get away from the hood. Some of our greatest fighters end up getting killed or in jail. I’ve stayed positive and pushed even harder.”
By winning the fight outside of the ring, Lundy might’ve already won the war between the ropes. A typically quiet, subdued fighter, Crawford has been more vocal in recent weeks leading up to this fight, starting with his playful, though somewhat heated, exchange with Lundy at the introductory press conference in January.
Could it be Lundy is inside the champion’s head?
“I know I’m in his head,” Lundy said. “You can just see it. Everyone knows Terence don’t say much or act a certain way before a fight, but you’re seeing a different Terence Crawford, cussing, talking, stating he’s from the street and he’s been shot. You’ve never seen that from him.”
Some fighters might worry about their bold words providing the opponent with bulletin-board material. Not Lundy. If the tough talk motivates Crawford even more than he already is, so be it, because Lundy doesn’t want to hear any excuses Saturday.
“At the end of the day, I want to motivate him. I want him to come in with his ‘A’ game, because when they raise my hand and put that belt around my waist, it won’t be about, ‘I didn’t do this,’ or, ‘I should’ve trained that way.’ He won’t have any excuses.
“I’m going to push the envelope,” he continued. “The one thing about boxing that people forget is you’ve got to set the tone in there. If you fall behind, it’s going to get ugly. He can be patient all he wants, but at the end of the day he’s going to fight my fight.”
In fact, if bulletin-board material is a motivating factor, Lundy might have the edge there, too. After all, Crawford’s promoter, Bob Arum, and co-manager, Cameron Dunkin, have publicly expressed the desire to fight bigger, more marketable opponents, as if Lundy isn’t a worthy adversary on a card of this magnitude.
“I’m real insulted,” Lundy said, “but at the end of the day, they don’t want to fight a guy like ‘Hammerin” Hank Lundy. Dunkin didn’t like the fact I was coming at [his client] Brandon Rios. If I see a guy I can exploit, I want to get in the ring with him.
“Come Saturday night, I’m not leaving with any ‘ifs.’ This is my chance for a world title and I’m leaving it all in the ring.”
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. Tickets are priced at $25, $50, $100, $200 and $300 and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone at (866) 858-0008 or online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.thegarden.com.