Namibian vs Nebraskan: Fight of unbeaten 140-pounders
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Terence Crawford had never heard of Julius Indongo until nine months ago. Neither had the rest of the boxing world outside the small African nation of Namibia.
That was before Indongo’s stunning knockout of Russian Eduard Troyanovsky in the opening minute in Moscow. The 34-year-old southpaw followed that up with a unanimous decision over the Scot Ricky Burns in Glasgow.
Now Indongo is set to make his U.S. debut in Crawford’s home state in a rare four-belt unification bout Saturday night. The scheduled 12-round fight between the unbeaten 140-pounders will be at a sold-out Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, a 45-minute drive from Crawford’s Omaha base.
“I have been in boxing for a long time and not many people know me,” Indongo said. “I believe this is the time for me to show the world that a boxer from Africa, from Namibia, can beat a guy fighting in his home in front of his people. This is the best way to do it.”
The fight also is an opportunity for the 29-year-old Crawford to keep building his brand. Crawford has been one of HBO’s most popular boxers, and he stopped Felix Diaz in May in his first main event at Madison Square Garden. He’ll be exposed to his largest audience with ESPN televising this fight.
“We can also silence all of the critics that have been saying that his resume is not as good as some fighters,” Crawford trainer and co-manager Brian McIntyre said. “I know he is excited to get out there and show ESPN what everybody has been hearing — that he is a great boxer and a damn good puncher and how he can switch from both sides.”
Crawford (31-0, 22 knockouts) is the WBO and WBC champion; Indongo (22-0, 12 KOs) is the IBF and WBA champ. This will be only the second fight in the four-belt era when two champions will meet with all four titles in a weight class at stake. The winner will be the undisputed champion unless there is a no-contest or draw. The only other four-belt fight was in 2004, when middleweight Bernard Hopkins knocked out Oscar De La Hoya.
“This is an incredible thing to be able to do,” promoter Todd duBoef of Top Rank said. “Julius Indongo and his promoter, Matchroom Boxing, have come up in a meteoric rise in the past 18 months and Julius has performed great. Terence Crawford has exploded onto the boxing scene.”
Indongo, a former police officer, never fought outside Namibia before he was matched against Troyanovsky last December. Crawford said he had wanted to fight Troyanovsky, but the Russian chose Indongo instead.
“When we heard that he got knocked out, we looked at the replay and looked at the fight,” Crawford said. “That’s when we first took notice of who Indongo really was.”
Crawford said Indongo deserves a lot of credit for fighting anyone and anywhere.
“It shows a lot about his character and his confidence and his ability in the ring,” he said. “Him being a two-time world champion in that short amount of time shows that he has a lot of confidence. But at the same time he is a little older, so the end of his career is coming along, so he doesn’t have a lot of choices for what he wants to do. He can’t wait around.”