- Crawford defends WBO junior welterweight title with fifth-round TKO
- Omaha fighter making NYC debut improves to 28-0 with 20 knockouts
Terence Crawford showed exactly why he’s been earmarked as America’s next great prizefighter.
The unbeaten Omaha native defended his junior welterweight championship on Saturday night with a scintillating fifth-round TKO of Hank Lundy before a sellout crowd of 5,092 at the Theater of Madison Square Garden.
Crawford’s New York City debut wasn’t the step up in competition that he will ultimately need to reach the stardom he appears bound for. Lundy, who went off as a 10-1 underdog, was not the first or third or even fifth pick for Saturday’s B-side, only getting the call when initial invitations to better credentialed candidates were spurned.
But Crawford (28-0, 20 KOs) shined against the opponent in front of him, showing the rare blend of power, speed and tactical aptitude that’s vaulted him from obscurity into the pound-for-pound mix over the past two years.
“I told everyone I’ve got power in both hands,” he said afterward. “The boxing ability that I have, it’s going to take me a long way in this game.”
Lundy (26-6-1, 13 KOs) enjoyed his best success in the opening round, using his formidable hand speed and constant in-and-out movement to tag the champion with punches while making him miss. It was an awkward formula tailor-made to confuse the switch-hitting Crawford – who came out in an orthodox stance and briefly shifted to southpaw before switching back – but a frenetic pace that seemed impossible for Lundy to sustain for another 11 rounds.
Crawford relied on the jab to greater effect in the second and third rounds, controlling the distance and pace of the fight as Lundy began to slow. To the credit of the challenger, beset with disadvantages in size, power, speed and reach, he kept moving forward and gave a good accounting of himself.
Yet Crawford finally connected flush with left hand in the fifth that short-circuited Lundy’s equilibrium and sent him careening into the ropes. The champion opened up and dumped Lundy to the canvas with another left. Referee Steve Willis appeared to waver on permitting the fight to continue after issuing the standing eight count. He allowed it, but Lundy was not long for the match. Crawford quickly closed the show with another flurry of punches as Willis put a stop to it at 2min 9sec of the fifth.
“Lundy came out very strong,” said Crawford, who connected with 89 of 247 punches (36%), compared to 47 of 411 for Lundy (22%). “He had a good rhythm and good timing. It took me a while to figure him out because he was strong initially in the fight. Once I got his rhythm and timing down I was able to hit him with some really hard shots.”
The champion was particularly effective with the jab, landing eight per round, more than double the division average. Those shots helped set up the hook that finished matters. As lamented the 32-year-old Lundy, now a loser in five of his last nine: “He caught me with a good shot.”
Crawford, who earned a career-high purse of $1.21m (compared to $150,000 for Lundy), was non-committal when asked which opponent he targeted next. There are no shortage of options: WBC titleholder Viktor Postol, Ruslan Provodnikov, Lucas Matthysse, Mauricio Herrera had all been in play for Saturday’s fight before each passed for varied reasons.
A unification fight with Postol would no doubt be the fans’ choice, a difficult task Crawford appears open to.
“I never duck anyone and I’ll fight anybody,” Crawford said. “My manager will make the fights happen and and I will train and fight.”