Terence Crawford keeps title with victory over Hank Lundy

NEW YORK - Junior welterweight world titleholder Terence Crawford uncharacteristically lost his cool during the stare-down after the final news conference with "Hammerin'" Hank Lundy on Thursday when he shoved the trash-talking challenger.

But he was calm and cool as he dissected Lundy before scoring a punishing, fifth-round knockout on Saturday night before a sold-out crowd of 5,092 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Crawford retained his 140-pound title for the second time and was quite satisfied to shut up the mouthy Lundy.

"He and I had gone back and forth on Twitter for like a year," Crawford said. "I just wanted to shut him up for good."

Crawford, with a large contingent of fans who traveled from his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, for his New York debut, took a couple of rounds to get into the fight but then picked the smaller Lundy apart before the violent knockout.

With the crowd chanting "Crawford! Crawford!" in the second round, he began to get to Lundy with his right jab after switching to a southpaw stance.

Crawford's jab was a huge key to the victory. He landed an average of eight jabs per round, almost double the weight-class average, according to CompuBox punch statistics. And it was a hard jab, not merely a range finder.

Overall, Crawford landed 89 of 247 punches, while Lundy connected on 47 of 211 and never did any real damage. Lundy gave a good effort, as he always does, but he was outclassed and could not deal with the jab or Crawford's size advantage.

In the fifth round, Crawford, the 2014 ESPN.com fighter of the year, badly hurt him with a right hand and then sent him bouncing off the ropes with a left hand. He chased after Lundy and continued to fire punches, finally dropping him to the canvas.

Lundy (26-6-1, 13 KOs), 32, of Philadelphia, beat the count but was in big trouble, and Crawford unloaded a barrage of punches, including a powerful right hand that landed clean and snapped his head, forcing referee Steve Willis to jump in and stop the bout at 2 minutes, 9 seconds.

"Sensational," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said of his star fighter's performance. "He's gotten better and better and better every fight. Who would have predicted he would be this explosive?"

After the fight, Lundy approached Crawford and showed him respect despite their war of words.

"Much love, good fight," Lundy said.

Crawford, who earned $1.21 million to Lundy's $150,000, said he appreciated it.

"He gave me my respect and I gave him his respect," Crawford said. "I respect him for taking the fight and being a person willing to take any fight anywhere against anyone."

Crawford, the former lightweight world champion before vacating to move up in weight last year, had been in the running for an April 9 fight with superstar Manny Pacquiao, but Pacquiao elected to face Timothy Bradley Jr., Crawford's good friend, for the third time.

Crawford (28-0, 20 KOs), 28, swore he was not disappointed and totally focused on Lundy, who is obviously not on the same level as Pacquiao.

"Lundy came out with a good rhythm and came out strong, so it took me a little time to get my rhythm down before I could catch him and get rid of him," Crawford said.

Fighting for a world title for the first time, Lundy, who lost every round on two scorecards and was even on the third at the time of the stoppage, was disappointed because he thought he was doing well until he got nailed.

"He got me with a good shot. What can I say?" Lundy said. "It is what it is. He hit me on top of the head and knocked my equilibrium off, and I couldn't recover. He's OK, but at the end of the day, I've been hit harder. We can do it again if he wants."

That is highly unlikely. Arum has bigger plans for Crawford.

He told ESPN.com that Crawford would next fight in June or July, probably at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

"We're looking to match him as tough as we can," Arum said. "One of the possibilities is [former junior welterweight titleholder] Ruslan Provodnikov. That would be a great fight. I talked to [Provodnikov promoter] Artie Pelullo [on Saturday] and we're going to explore that."

A title unification fight with Viktor Postol, who is also promoted by Top Rank, could come later in the year.

Crawford knocked out Thomas Dulorme in the sixth round of a one-sided fight last April to win the belt and then battered Dierry Jean in the 10th round of his first title defense in October. They are not the kind of big names -- although Dulorme owns a victory against Lundy -- Crawford, Top Rank and HBO have been looking for him to fight.

But Crawford has always been willing to fight the best opponent available and been fearless about it. In 2014, he even traveled to Scotland and defeated hometown titleholder Ricky Burns for the 135-pound world title.

Crawford said his attitude about wanting to face the best opponents willing to fight him is not about to change.

"I don't pick the fights. I just fight them," Crawford said. "I'm really satisfied and happy with my performance, but now, I go back to the gym and sharpen up these tools a little more and see what's next.

"I always can get better. We go back to work."