Terence Crawford, Jeff Horn escalate verbal feud after title fight gets delayed

Ever since unbeaten Terence Crawford pulled out of his April 14 welterweight title bout against Jeff Horn on Wednesday due to a hand injury, he has repeatedly seen his toughness called into question by the opposing camp. 

Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs), who unified all four titles at 140 pounds in 2017, was expected to make his welterweight debut by challenging for the WBO title that Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) won in a stunning (and disputed) upset of Manny Pacquiao last July in Australia. 

While the hand injury is considered nothing more than "a little road bump" by Crawford's manager and trainer Brian McIntyre, promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank intends to reschedule the fight for May or June.

On Thursday, Horn's team went public in a news conference with Australian media members to share their collective disappointment in the fight being delayed.

"It's frustrating. Hopefully it's an injury he's had to postpone it for and not a tactic to throw us off our game," Horn said. "All these American fans or whatever are saying that Terence is such a great fighter. Well, why doesn't he fight with one hand then? I will take it as a compliment that they are worried about me."

While the 30-year-old Horn, a former school teacher who emerged from obscurity, was relatively diplomatic in his take, his trainer, Glenn Rushton, pulled no punches.  

"[Crawford] seems to me to be a bit soft. Toughen up princess," Rushton said. "The way I look at it is, down here, you watch our rugby league players coming out at halftime with huge eye injuries, they will staple them up. They will staple them up and they get back out there with bandages around their head. They fought with broken arms and stuff like that. 

"He has to harden up. It's just a slight hand injury, get a bit of cortisone in it. Just grind through it and get the job done. This is just not Australian. We wouldn't do that. We would've proceeded if it was us." 

Promoter Dean Lonergan of Duco Events, who called Crawford "a soft c---," showed even less restraint. 

"He should just harden up. Like seriously, bang it full of cortisone and get on with it," Lonergan said. "These Yanks are nowhere near as tough as they make themselves out to be and I can't wait for our boy to go up there and kick his ass."

Crawford, 30, took to social media for his response, tweeting directly at Horn early Friday

"Ima show you a little princess come fight night," Crawford said. "You just keep training and keeping my belt warm because I'm f------- you up come fight night. You, me and everyone know it."

The fight was originally hoped to be broadcast by ESPN as the first pay-per-view in their partnership with Top Rank, with plans for a Manny Pacquiao-Mike Alvarado bout as the co-main event. After Pacquiao declined the fight, Horn-Crawford was moved to ESPN. Now, following an announcement Thursday by ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro, the fight will be broadcast exclusively on the upcoming ESPN+ streaming app, which requires an additional monthly subscription fee. 

While Horn's team didn't back down in terms of questioning the severity of the injury, there remains at least a small level of skepticism surrounding the timing of the ESPN announcement. It wouldn't be out of the question to wonder whether the fight was purposely delayed to entice viewers to purchase the new streaming app in order to watch it.

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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