(NEW YORK CITY) That’s exactly what it would be.
Last night at The Theater- a more exclusive aspect of Madison Square Garden’s circus of drama, and a place that captures it like no other on earth – we witnessed a star making performance from Terence Crawford, who hammered and terminated “Hammering” Hank Lundy at 2:09 of the fifth round to successfully defend his WBO super lightweight championship for the third time in a thriller.
A few days ago, I told you that Crawford needs a superstar performance against a big mouthed Hank Lundy, and he delivered. Although he hasn’t under-performed in his last few fights, he needed something emphatic to create what would be a dramatic encounter with Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao. Not far from where Lundy’s face was on the canvas, was a not so subtle reminder of Pacquiao vs. Bradley on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It is also a Top Rank fight, and a fight that Top Rank ‘Don’ Bob Arum wants to happen this fall. The only thing that has to happen now is an equally impressive Pacquiao victory over a resurgent Timothy Bradley.
A few things about ‘Bud’ that was really impressive last night: He was able to adapt after catching a few loose bombs. He was able to show a clear separation from a tough, world-class “B” fighter and Philadelphia street thug in Hank Lundy. He demonstrated the look of a solid “A” fighter and fought with a consistent killer instinct.
Peering over at the HBO crew and covering the fight from a press balcony that went wild after the stoppage, I couldn’t help but think of the late Emmanuel Stewart and how he would’ve raved about Crawford last night. He has the look and feel of a classic Kronk fighter from the 80’s, as he fights with the spirit of Thomas Hearns and the mentality of Marvin Hagler. Now he does have a long way to go to compare to those ring immortals, but as the Mayweather and Pacquiao era comes to a close– he seems like someone that’s next in line of that cloth.
After tasting bricks from a rouge-like and gambling Lundy (26-6-1, 13KO’s) while losing the first round, Crawford (28-0, 20KO’s) got out of the orthodox stance and settled into a more comfortable southpaw rhythm in round 2- attempting to become the boss in there. Round 3 saw more of the same, even though Lundy out-hustled Crawford to probably steal the round. Never-the-less in round 4, Crawford began to confidently stalk Lundy and find him with stinging right jabs and piercing straight lefts. He eventually landed a solid right cross and a radioactive straight left to knock Lundy into the ropes – then in them – before dropping him nearly two minutes into round 5. The charismatic and colorful referee Steve Willis jumped in to halt things after Crawford bashed Lundy a few more times.
Because boxing at its highest level is such a game of milliseconds and millimeters, every move and punch has tremendous meaning both with or without proper technique. Lundy lunged throughout the fight with a looping left-hook, attempting to come over the top of the champion’s jab and he eventually paid a very bad price.
What other fighter do you know that loves to gamble and lunges in with huge punches? The differences between Lundy and Pacquiao, however, are enormous, as ‘Pac’ is far more versatile and unpredictable offensively. He’s also a much sharper puncher than Lundy and a living legend; these days walking around with a red bandanna wrapped around his head in a tribute to his younger self, as he prepares to end his trilogy with Timothy Bradley in a blaze of glory.
Word out of the Philippines as that Pacquiao ‘absolutely wanted to fight Terence Crawford’, but that the idea was vetoed by ‘Don’ Arum- wanting that fight to be bigger. Reports are that Pacquiao is adamant that this is his last fight, and because he was disappointed to face Bradley (instead of Crawford), has lead to his dark and dreary demeanor ahead of Pac/Bradley III. Pacquiao, who’s been sharp in training thus far for Bud’s good friend Bradley, reportedly watched Crawford’s performance last night and was impressed.
A Pacquiao vs. Crawford fight in late 2016 would be an absolutely epic affair if it were to happen, but we’ll have to wait and see how things play out. Bradley could of course upset the apple cart – and Pacquiao could indeed retire, leaving Crawford’s options fairly thin. Ruslan Provodkikov is a name that has been mentioned- and he would be cannon fodder for Crawford. There’s also the possibility of a Viktor Postol unification clash, which would be a very good fight, but similar to the excitement Carl Frampton vs. Scott Quigg generated here: Very little.
But still, the fact remains Crawford was able to turn in a star worthy performance in front of a sold out crowd of 5,092 who mostly came to see rising star Felix Verdejo. The highly touted Puerto Rican sensation appeared to suffer from an identity crisis that produced an apprehensive, flat performance from Verdejo– who didn’t know whether he wanted to be Miguel Cotto or Felix Trinidad, while never taking full advantage of his tremendous speed and overall skill though he pitched a near shutout.
As bored as they were during Verdejo’s on-the-job training type fight, they all came alive as a result of Crawford’s spectacular performance. If it turns out that Crawford cannot secure a Pacquiao fight (or one with Postol, which would be a hard sell to casuals), a fight I’d like to see for Crawford is one with a guy who has an even bigger mouth than Hank Lundy in the outrageous Adrien Broner. This unification fight makes perfect sense, but Broner (who is set to defend his WBA super lightweight championship against TMT fighter Ashley Theopane) is an Al Haymon fighter, making such a fight extremely difficult to make because of the continuous cat-fighting between rivals Haymon and Arum.
It needs to end, and is becoming increasingly bad business for a sport trying to regain its renowned mainstream appeal from its 80’s heyday. The pool of new talent between 140 to 147 lbs is arguably as deep as it was during that glorious era, lead by Crawford, whose time has arrived. For more on Crawford and all of the latest news in the world of boxing, please be sure to visit Real Combat Media.