By Jake Donovan
Dierry Jean was all set to travel with his team to Omaha over the weekend, ahead of Monday's press conference to formally announce his upcoming showdown with unbeaten super lightweight champion Terence Crawford.
Then came the perils of traveling from Canada to the United States.
"We were ready to head to the airport, and Dierry calls me to tell me he can't find his passport," Camille Estephan, Jean's manager explained of his fighter's absence to a forgiving assembled media at CenturyLink Center, where the fight will take place.
Estephan had no problem standing in for his fighter, but his absence meant a chance for Crawford's team—including the Top Rank staff and his co-manager Bryan McIntyre—to have fun at the challenger's expense.
"This is Dierry Jean, for those who don't know what he looks like," stated Top Rank Vice President of Operations Carl Moretti while holding up a poster-sized portait of the challenger.
Widely known as one of the sport's genuine good guys, Moretti then took a playful swipe at Jean while making his own prediction on the fight.
"This is what he might look like on October 24," Moretti joked, as the poster was laid flat on the ground, simulating the knockout pose that could await him on fight night.
Crawford (26-0, 18KOs) has shown in two of his past three fights on HBO a penchant for closing the show. His first HBO-televised headliner last June—which played to a sold-out crowd at CenturyLink, his first fight at his hometown venue since his time spent in the amateurs—ended with a 9th round knockout of previously-unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa in one of the year's best fights.
An encore performance in Omaha wasn't quite as memorable, as Crawford—in his last fight as a lightweight—settled for a 12-round decision over the durable Raymundo Beltran last November. He returned to his old knockout ways in April, stopping Thomas Dulorme in six rounds to claim the super lightweight title he defends in October.
Jean (29-1, 20KOs) has never been drpopped or stopped as a pro. Those numbers don't seem to resonate with Team Crawford, particularly co-manager and trainer Brian McIntyre, who grabbed a marker and drew a black "X" across Jean's face on the provided poster before explaining his actions.
"That's what I think of Dierry Jean; he's a non-factor to Terence Crawford," McIntyre told the crowd on hand before turning his attention to Jean's team on the podium. "I'm sorry you have to come this long way. You're about to come get an ass whipping this time.
"Terence is gonna do him in, you watch."
Jean's head trainer Mike Moffa plead to let the trash talk come from the fighters, but the gesture couldn't go completely unchecked.
"You made it personal," Estephan said to the Crawford side of the podium. "Putting this paper on the ground - big mistake, and karma is going to get you."
The normally reserved Crawford never needs encouragement to keep it civil during any public setting. That said, he used his opportunity to speak not to disrespect his opponent but rather send a message.
"Dierry Jean is a very good fighter, I take nothing away from him," Crawford pointed out. "Come October 24, it's going to be a good fight... but mark my words (as he turns to Team Jean), he. will lose.
"I'm serious; he will lose."
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com.
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