Terence Crawford seethed from his chair as he heard Jeff Horn and his team question the validity of his hand injury that postponed their fight for two months.
He listened to them brag about Horn’s strong will. He didn’t interrupt when they talked about Yuriorkis Gamboa hurting Crawford in their 2014 fight.
Crawford stared daggers at Glenn Rushton, Horn’s trainer, when he boasted about Horn’s opponents.
To Crawford, that sounded as if Rushton was claiming he hadn’t beaten anyone good in his 32 fights. Horn has a win over the legendary Manny Pacquiao.
Horn (18-0-1, 12 knockouts) will defend his WBO welterweight title against Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs), a former undisputed junior welterweight champion moving up in weight. Horn and Crawford headline Saturday’s Top Rank card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena that will air at 6:30 p.m. on the ESPN+ app.
When it was Crawford’s turn to speak Thursday at the final news conference, the often reserved boxer had a lot to say and he wasn’t going to let anyone cut him off.
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” said Dean Lonergan, Horn’s promoter.
“Hold up, I’m still talking,” Crawford fired back with his finger pointed at Lonergan. “Don’t interrupt me.”
Crawford always unleashes his mean side for a fight week. But it’s different against Horn. The Australian rattled the beast’s cage.
Come fight night, Horn probably won’t be facing the patient technician who has made most of his opponents look foolish. Crawford’s brawler side might come out, and maybe that’s what Horn wants.
“I’m not Manny Pacquiao,” Crawford said. “I got a strong will as well. Pressure breaks pipes. A lot of people came into the ring with me with a strong will, and they left with their tail tucked in.”
Horn struggled to make weight Friday, needing three attempts before reaching the 147-pound limit. Crawford tipped the scales at 146½ pounds.
Crawford, 30, wants to punish Horn, but he also wants to make a statement for the top fighters in the 147-pound division. He has arrived and is going after the major belts like he did at 140 pounds.
The Omaha, Nebraska, native is highly competitive in and out of the ring. That was evident Thursday when Horn broke face first after a 40-second faceoff with Crawford, who grinned as if he had won the first battle.
Crawford wants to be known as boxing’s pound-for-pound best and aims to win Fighter of the Year every year. That award went to his Top Rank stablemate, Vasiliy Lomachenko, last year even after Crawford became the first boxer in more than a decade to become an undisputed champion.
“You never want to be second to anybody no matter who it is,” Crawford said of Lomachenko. “At the same time, we’re in different weight classes. Everyone got their different perspectives how they rate us No. 1 and 2.”
Crawford said he doesn’t get enough credit for whom he’s defeated. The last time Crawford fought at the MGM Grand in 2016, Viktor Postol was supposed to push him. But Crawford won a unanimous decision.
Crawford traveled to Scotland and won the lightweight title from Ricky Burns. He knocked out Gamboa when he was anointed as the next best thing from Cuba. Crawford seized the moment when he defeated Breidis Prescott on short notice, the fight that put him on the map in 2013.
“Postol was the boogeyman before I fought him,” Crawford said. “He was the killer. The guy who was going to beat me. When I beat him, everyone changed their comments and started trashing him. Same with (Julius) Indongo. It’s crazy to me that I don’t get credit.”
Crawford understands he probably won’t get much credit if he beats Horn, a heavy underdog. He’ll need to defeat Errol Spence, Keith Thurman or Danny Garcia to get the respect he says he desires.
When: Saturday, first bell 3:30 p.m.
Where: MGM Grand Garden
Main event: Jeff Horn vs. Terence Crawford
Co-main event: Jose Pedraza vs. Antonio Moran
Broadcast: ESPN+ ($4.99 app), 6:30 p.m.
Odds: Crawford -800; Horn +550
Weight: Crawford 146.5 pounds; Horn 147 after third attempt
Commission purses: Crawford $1,750,000; Horn $500,000