PROMOTER Eddie Hearn has struck the first blow in the pre-fight mind games ahead of world lightweight champion Ricky Burns’ fifth WBO title defence against undefeated American Terence Crawford this weekend.
The London fight boss questioned Crawford’s decision to delay his arrival in Glasgow until yesterday morning, giving himself just five days to acclimatise to his new surroundings.
“I would never allow one of my fighters fighting in America to arrive the week of the contest,” declared Hearn. “I think Crawford has made a mistake, I really do.
“Everyone is different, of course, and Crawford’s movements will be dictated by his training team, and, I suppose, given that he has never travelled outside America, which I am assuming is the case because he had to apply for a passport, there is no answer to what is the right or wrong way for him.
“But personally I think arriving on Monday is risky in terms of recovering from jet lag and the effect fluid retention has on your weight.
“We gave him the opportunity of coming ten days in advance of the fight, the same as Raymundo Beltran, and I don’t know why they missed their plane. All I was told was that there had been a problem.
“I am not saying it will be a massive factor, but when a fight is as close as this one is, anything that can give you an edge is a big plus. That’s why we had to make sure the fight was in Glasgow, because that’s the biggest advantage Ricky can have.
“You can’t put a value on it when it’s so close. Ricky is the outsider, which tells you how tough it is when he’s the champion and it’s at home.
“That doesn’t happen very often, so to get home advantage was crucial. We had to pay Crawford a lot of money, but I don’t feel that Ricky in his position as champion should be travelling to Nebraska.
“It was a little bit of a risk financially, but, thank the Lord, we are going to have a sell-out. Ten thousand Scots fight fans is the equivalent of 20,000 from any other nationality and Crawford won’t know what’s hit him.
“If Crawford is very special, which he might be, he’ll cope with it. If not, when you factor in everything else like arriving late and never having fought outside America, it’s going to hit him hard. That’s why I am asking the fans to raise the roof and show him what he’s up against and also to lift Ricky.”
Burns went through his paces during a public work-out at Glasgow’s St Enoch shopping mall yesterday without any mention of the broken jaw he suffered at the hands of Mexican Beltran last September.
He did not require any reminders either about the need to raise his game after Crawford was installed as favourite, largely as a result of Burns’ failure to deal effectively with Jose Gonzalez and Beltran, in turn.
“Ricky’s last two performances and the hype surrounding Crawford are the reasons why Burns is the underdog and if he makes the same mistakes, Crawford will jump on him straight away and punish him,” Hearn said.
“But Ricky loves being the underdog going into a tough fight. He has a smile on his face and he is excited about the challenge he faces. I don’t think he was supposed to achieve what he has done, but he is one of life’s great underdogs.”
Burns added: “I am not looking at it as if Crawford is underestimating me. I don’t know what kind of person he is or how he’ll deal with the crowd, but for me a ring is a ring.”