TERENCE Crawford, the undefeated American charged with ending Ricky Burns’ reign as WBO lightweight champion, yesterday labelled his rival “lucky” and claimed that Raymundo Beltran was robbed of the title six months ago.
Mexican Beltran broke Burns’ jaw in the second round of the Coatbridge boxer’s ninth world title bout at the SECC six months ago before also flooring the champion. Yet Burns retained the belt by dint of a highly contentious draw.
“I watched his last fight and he didn’t win it,” said the 26-year old challenger. “He lost.”
But Crawford and his trainer, Brian McIntyre may have played into Burns’ hands by publically disrespecting the champion at a farcical press conference, during which the Nebraskan also claimed he is not concerned about the possible influence of 10,000 partisan fight fans. “I’m not worried about the crowd or the atmosphere,” he said.
Crawford’s words are unlikely to endear him to Burns’ followers who will also take umbrage at McIntyre’s assessment of the champion as little better than a “Golden Gloves runner-up”.
Crawford’s pre-arranged three o’clock media conference lasted less than three minutes as he responded to questions with a series of monosyllabic answers after initially refusing to face the media at the appointed hour.
When he eventually partially relented following pleas from promoter Eddie Hearn’s media advisor and his own handlers, Crawford – criticised by Hearn for delaying his arrival until five days before the fight – appeared thoroughly disinterested.
He said: “I’m fine, I’m perfect. My arrival’s fine and everything’s good. I’m good, my weight is good. I’m just ready to fight.”
Beltran is also a member of the HBO stable, but Crawford claims he has not even spoken to him in an effort to garner information about Burns. But, in spite of his obvious reluctance to expand on a single answer, Crawford still managed to convey the distinct impression that he couldn’t care less about Burns or the prospect of confronting boxing’s Tartan Army.
He also claimed not to be concerned by the judging in Burns’ last fight, explaining: “That’s not for me to worry about. I’m just ready. I’ve been sparring with a lot of top athletes.”
Crawford appears to have deliberately set out to make himself unpopular and, when asked if he is always as laid back and cool, he shrugged his shoulders and replied: “Always.”
But he insisted that he had not got a special message for the champion. “Just show up Saturday,” he sneered.
Crawford’s appearance in front of the TV camera was equally short-lived as he continued to deliberately make life difficult with a further string of clipped answers.
Crawford also stressed that he never thought for a moment that Burns would have been prepared to put his title on the line in the United States.
He said: “We knew he wasn’t coming over there. It was already in his plans but that doesn’t matter to me, it’s not my call.”
As a public relations exercise the event was a flop and trainer McIntyre’s comments about Burns did nothing to improve the atmosphere.
“I feel real good, real confident, 100 per cent,” he declared. “Burns is a Golden Gloves runner-up boxer. He’s basic, not brilliant at anything, and he doesn’t bring anything to the table besides being in shape.”
When asked if it was wrong to show such disrespect to the champion, McIntyre shrugged and added: “I don’t care, it don’t make no difference to me. I have known Terence all his life and I know what he can do. He’s not in this position by luck.”