AFTER missing out on facing Manny Pacquiao for the Filipino superstar’s career swansong in April, WBO super-lightweight champion, Terence Crawford, 27-0 (19), will instead defend his title against Philadelphian contender, “Hammerin” Hank Lundy, 26-5-1 (13) on February 27 at the Theatre in Madison Square Garden, New York.

It’s believed a number of top 140lbs contenders, including Ruslan Provodnikov, Lucas Matthysse and WBC titlist, Viktor Postol, all passed on the assignment of facing the former lightweight champion in time for the February date, with 32-year-old Lundy the man eventually accepting of the task.

Although he has lost two of his last three fights, “Hammerin” Hank was highly competitive in defeat, losing a narrow split decision to former Crawford victim, Thomas Dulorme in December 2014, before then going on to drop a debatable technical decision to veteran contender, Mauricio Herrera last July, after an accidental clash of heads cut Herrera and prematurely sent the fight to the scorecards after just five rounds.

“This is the type of fight I have been waiting for,” Lundy said of the Crawford opportunity. “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 February 27, I am coming to Madison Square Garden to fight Terence Crawford, and on the 28th I’ll be leaving with his belt.”

The Top Rank promoted Crawford made the jump to super-lightweight last April when he claimed the [vacant] belt with his stylish sixth round stoppage of Dulorme, flooring the Puerto Rican three times, before then going on to stop Canada’s Dierry Jean in 10 rounds last October. Promoter Bob Arum is keen to move his charge to the next level and eventually into a pay-per-view attraction, promising if that if Crawford beats Lundy, then he can expect to return to action at least more times this year, hopefully with more noteworthy opposition.

In chief support, Puerto Rico’s red-hot lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo (19-0, 14ko) will put both his WBO Latino title and his ‘0’ on the line against undefeated rival, Brazil’s William Silva (23-0, 14ko) over ten rounds.