Terence Crawford will defend against 'Hammerin' Hank Lundy on Feb. 27

One by one, the top junior welterweights turned down opportunities to challenge titleholder Terence Crawford, including former titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, reigning titleholder Viktor Postol and contenders Lucas Matthysse and Mauricio Herrera, for various reasons. Most claimed they could not be ready for the fight by Feb. 27.

Eventually, it was "Hammerin'" Hank Lundy who accepted the assignment -- as the fifth man on the list -- and he will challenge Crawford on that date in the main event of an HBO-televised "World Championship Boxing" doubleheader (10 p.m. ET/PT) at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

"Guys said they weren't going to be ready and Postol wasn't really interested. He was lukewarm to fighting Crawford," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who works with Crawford and Postol, told ESPN.com on Thursday. "But I think Lundy, in the ring, will be a very good fight. He's a good, tough guy."

In the scheduled 10-round co-feature, 22-year-old Puerto Rican lightweight sensation Felix Verdejo (19-0, 14 KOs), the 2014 ESPN.com prospect of the year and tabbed by many as a future star, will face fellow undefeated fighter William Silva (23-0, 14 KOs) of Brazil.

Top Rank has a news conference scheduled at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday to formally announce the card.

Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs), 28, of Omaha, Nebraska, had hoped to fight a bigger name but wound up with Lundy, who has already lost to two opponents -- Raymundo Beltran and Thomas Dulorme -- whom Crawford beat easily. Crawford will be making his second title defense.

"Hank Lundy has been waiting for a well-deserved opportunity like this his whole life, and he is hungry and ready for this bout," said Jimmy Burchfield, Lundy's promoter. "Hammerin' Hank has never turned down an opportunity, and in his past 17 bouts he has fought in 13 different states against opponents with a combined record of 276-44-4. On Feb. 27 the world will see the best Hank Lundy yet."

Crawford, the 2014 ESPN.com and Boxing Writers Association of America fighter of the year and a former lightweight champion, had been one of the finalists to land an April 9 fight with welterweight superstar Manny Pacquiao. But when Pacquiao opted to face Timothy Bradley Jr., one of Crawford's good friends, for the third time, Crawford was scheduled for Feb. 27 and wound up with Lundy as his opponent.

Regardless of the opponent, Crawford said, "I will show the world I am the best at 140 pounds."

Arum hopes the fight with Lundy is the beginning of a busy year for Crawford, whom he said would fight at least three times -- maybe four -- in 2016 as long he continued to win and remained healthy.

"At least three fights," Arum said. "If he comes through against Lundy, we'll have him back in the ring in June or July and then at least once in the fall, maybe twice. We've got to keep him busy and keep him out there."

Crawford fought twice in 2015, neither time against a well-known opponent. Arum said that when Top Rank spoke to cable and satellite providers to gauge their reaction to potential Pacquiao pay-per-view opponents, Crawford's name was met with disinterest.

"I was really stunned when the feedback came from them that it wasn't wise to do a pay-per-view with Manny against Crawford because he wasn't well-known," Arum said. "I know him, you know him and the big boxing fans know him, and we know he's a great fighter, but that's different than selling a pay-per-view."

Lundy (26-5-1, 13 KOs), 32, of Philadelphia, has lost two of his past three fights, but they were highly competitive. He dropped a debatable fifth-round technical decision to Herrera in July in a fight cut short when Herrera suffered a bad cut from an accidental head-butt. In his previous fight, Lundy lost a split decision to Dulorme in December 2012. In April, Crawford blew past Dulorme by sixth-round knockout to claim a vacant junior welterweight world title.

But Lundy is highly confident and a trash-talker who campaigned for the fight with Crawford.

"This is the type of fight I have been waiting for," Lundy said. "The last couple of fights I have beaten guys but didn't get the fair shake. If you're a true fan of boxing, you know I belong in the ring with the best fighters in the world. I'm the type of guy that no one wants to fight because I am the real deal. On Feb. 27, I am coming to Madison Square Garden to fight Terence Crawford, and on the 28th I'll be leaving with his belt."

Said Brian McIntyre, Crawford's trainer and co-manager along with Cameron Dunkin: "We can't wait to shut up this dude for once and for all."