Terence Crawford insisted it is “not true” he previously avoided a fight with Shawn Porter, and hit out at “a lie” over his rival’s preparation.
The tension is cranking up in the days prior to Crawford’s WBO welterweight championship defence against Porter, live on Sky Sports, from 2am on Sunday.
Porter, a former two-time champion, insisted a previous offer to fight was rebuffed but Crawford has now told Sky Sports: “No, that’s not true.
“The truth of the matter is that when they asked me for the fight it was just talk, there was no offer.
“Then when [my promoters] Top Rank offered them the fight, they turned it down because they wanted more money.
“Then me and Shawn talked on the phone and he asked me what I thought about a potential fight with him.
“I told him that if I couldn’t get the Manny Pacquiao fight then we would revisit it. I didn’t get the Pacquiao fight – we’re here.”
Kenny Porter, the challenger’s father and trainer, claimed at a press conference on Wednesday night that they had focused on themselves rather than watching Crawford, to which the champion replied: “That’s a lie. Definitely a lie.”
Porter also suggested that Crawford could be irked by social media. He replied: “I don’t care why he says the things that he says. Why would I care about a tweet?”
The rivals did not go face to face when they met for the first time this week and, ahead of Friday’s weigh-in head-to-head, Crawford spoke about the slow erosion of respect between them: “Definitely. It was gone when we signed the contract.
“I don’t have to disrespect him or talk bad about him. But we both know.
“There are no friends in the ring. The guy across from you is trying to knock your head off. I’m trying to knock his head off.”
Porter has shared a ring with Crawford’s great rival Errol Spence Jr, as well as Yordenis Ugas, Kell Brook, Danny Garcia, Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner.
His experience is expected to make him Crawford’s toughest opponent yet.
“We’ll have to see if this is the toughest fight of my career,” Crawford said.
“I’ve been faced with a lot of people who thought the past couple of fights would be the toughest. But we don’t know until we step in the ring.
“I don’t tend to listen but I do take heed because it means I won’t overlook anything.
“I believe, deep down in my heart, that there are a lot of things I haven’t shown yet because I didn’t have to show it at that point. There are skills I haven’t had to display.
“Maybe Porter can bring those out. There is more to come. I am getting better.
“I expect Shawn to be Shawn – I can’t stress enough how talented he is. He likes to box, he likes to bang, he likes to brawl. We will be ready for everything.”
Crawford is aiming to stretch his undefeated record to 38-0 and said: “When I’m on my A-game I don’t think anybody can beat me.”
Sky Sports Boxing schedule
November 20 – BOXXER in London
Richard Riakporhe vs Olanrewaju Durodola
Florian Marku vs Jorick Luisetto
Hosea Burton vs Dan Azeez – British light-heavyweight title
November 20 – Top Rank in Las Vegas
Terence Crawford vs Shawn Porter – WBO welterweight title
December 11 – BOXXER in Cardiff
Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Williams
Claressa Shields vs Ema Kozin
December 11 – Top Rank in New York
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Richard Commey
Jared Anderson vs Oleksandr Teslenko
Nico Ali Walsh
December 17 – Top Rank in Montreal
Artur Beterbiev vs Marcus Browne – IBF and WBC light-heavyweight titles
February 26 – Top Rank in Glasgow
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall – undisputed super-lightweight title