NEW YORK — Philadelphia is a city well known for its boxing champions, whether they be legitimate pugilists like future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins or made-for-movie characters like Rocky Balboa.
Junior welterweight challenger “Hammerin’” Hank Lundy, raised in South Philly, is proud of his city’s rich history in the sport. The 32-year-old fighter has plans to join its long list of champions on Saturday night.
Lundy (26-5-1, 13 knockouts) is the opponent for WBO champ Terence “Bud” Crawford. They meet at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, and the challenger believes Philly’s fighting heritage is with him.
“Every punch I hit you with, you’re going to feel Philadelphia,” Lundy said.
Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs) isn’t buying it. Omaha’s first world champion is the boxing history — at least at this level — for his hometown. He puts no stock in the theory that coming from a fighting city is an edge.
“I hope he keeps thinking that,” the champ said. “I’m undefeated and he’s not. I’m a world champion and he’s not. If he wants to think he’s going to have an advantage because I’m from Omaha so be it.
“It’s not where you’re from. It’s what you do in the sport. Great fighters come from all over the world.”
Crawford is certainly proof of that. He’s risen from a city that had never produced a world champion to become one of the top active fighters in the world, according to most boxing experts.
The Omahan has claimed WBO titles in two weight classes. He successfully defended his lightweight championship twice before moving up to 140 pounds. This is his second defense there.
Saturday’s bout isn’t the first for a world title between fighters from Omaha and Philadelphia. Smokin’ Joe Frazier, one of Philly’s all-time greats, successfully defended the world heavyweight championship against Omaha-based slugger Ron “The Bluffs Butcher” Stander at the Civic Auditorium in May 1972.
In that bout, the fighter from Philadelphia was a heavy favorite. This time, the opposite is true. Lundy has proven to be competitive against top-level competition, but he’s yet to beat an elite boxer. He’s lost two of his last three fights, to Mauricio Herrera and Thomas Dulorme, heading into Saturday.
Crawford stopped Dulorme in the sixth round last April in Arlington, Texas, to claim the vacant junior welterweight title. It was his only fight outside of Omaha since he became a world champion in 2014.
His trainer and co-manager, Brian “BoMac” McIntyre, said he’s happy Crawford now has another.
“I feel like this is a good opportunity,” he said. “I think a lot of people still doubt Terence and what he can do. They say he can’t perform unless he’s at home. This gives us an opportunity to show what he can do when he’s not at home and what he’s really made of outside of his norm.”
Crawford has plenty of motivation to be at his best this weekend, even though two of Lundy’s five losses have come against fighters the champ has beaten in the past two years. The challenger’s persistent trash talking has gotten the Omahan so heated that he shoved Lundy after Thursday’s press conference.
“I don’t know what’s going on in that boy’s head,” Crawford said. “I just let him talk. Come Saturday, there ain’t going to be too much talking to do.”
Friday’s weigh-in provided no more drama as the fighters and their camps were brought on stage separately to avoid any confrontation. Crawford showed up at 139.2 pounds. Lundy weighed 138.2.
Saturday’s bout will be the first in New York for Crawford, but it is the second world title fight in the city for a boxer from Nebraska. Perry “Kid” Graves, the state’s only world champion prior to Crawford, knocked out Johnny “Kid” Alberts in the second round of their title bout on July 18, 1914, at the Broadway Athletic Club in Brooklyn to lay claim to the vacant welterweight crown.
David Berlin, executive director of the New York State Athletic Commission, referenced the victory by Graves when he spoke during Thursday’s press conference. Graves lost the title later that same year.
Crawford doesn’t expect to be parting with his belt, even though Lundy has guaranteed a victory.
“He said a couple of things along the time that upset me,” Crawford said. “But it’s nothing that changes my game plan or makes me want to go in there and do more or fight different than I normally fight. I’m going to go in there and fight my fight and do what I’ve got to do to get the job done.
“He and I have been going back and forth on Twitter for some time now. I just want to shut him up.”
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