The Shadow of the Mayweather Vs. McGregor circus has cast over a contest which isn’t getting the exposure it deserves, casual fight fans lap up stories of sparring knockdowns/knockouts or changes in weight to gloves used, arguing for countless hours on social media but when asked about the headliner from Nebraska this coming weekend it is usually met with a blank expression which from my standpoint is frustrating.
For all the marbles, Terence Crawford will go all in with his WBC/WBO titles whilst opposing him will be Julius Indongo who will match the effort with his IBF/WBA straps in a unification contest to crown one true ruler of the 140Ib division, the first since 2004.
One of the best technical boxers in the sport, Crawford will enter as the betting favorite, bringing big time boxing back to his hometown of Nebraska for the fifth time in a career which to date stands at 31-0.
Crawford a competent switch hitter with quickness of feet/ hand came into the professional ranks on the back of a prestigious amateur program that included wins over Danny Garcia, Diego Magdaleno and Mikey Garcia always having dreams of representing the United States at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but it wasn’t to be, a couple of losses to Sadam Ali and Miguel Gonzalez acting to push his hand into making the move to the paid ranks.
A lot was expected of Crawford but all that was nearly halted when after a craps game went wrong he was left with a bullet grazing the right side of his head in 2008. Crawford managed to seek help at the nearest hospital, driving himself the distance but looking back at that moment spurred him onto concentrate on his career instead of the streets that always threatened to pull him further from the path he now walks.
Thereafter his career snowballed, beating the likes of Breidis Prescott, Alejandro Sanabria and Andrej Klimov to finish 2013 off in pole position for a shot at Ricky Burns’ WBO Lightweight title in Scotland.
The opportunity to become a world champion was offered, Crawford on the biggest stage to date producing a masterclass at Glasgow’s SEC arena the following year, taking the title from the battle tested Burns with the ease one would come to expect from a seasoned titleholder, bringing worldwide exposure to his door.
Two defences followed in his annihilation of Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa before outpointing the granite chinned Reymundo Beltran before he succumbed to his body, making the move to the super lightweight division.
The WBO title followed with his stoppage win over Thomas Dulorme, adding to his impressive cabinet the WBC title with a performance of brilliance against Viktor Postol in 2016.
His latest outing went in similar fashion with a stoppage win over Felix Diaz in May, setting up this weekend’s clash with Julius Indongo.
Namibia’s Julius Indongo comes into the bout like Crawford, Unbeaten with a career spanning 22 contest, trying to become the first African fighter in the history of the sport to become a unified champion.
Indongo fell in love with boxing after hearing a blow-by-blow account on a small transistor radio of a big fight in Namibia, afterward, he quickly came to the conclusion that’s what he wanted to do.
No gloves to use in his village, for the most part, Indongo ran, shadow boxed and tried to perfect his jab, never really throwing a meaningful punch until his first fight in 2001.
Fighting most of his initial career in his homeland it became quite the shock when he stopped the much fancied Eduard Troyanovsky in Russia, needing just one round in doing so.
The awkward, rangy Indongo followed the win with a one sided unanimous decision victory over former champion Ricky Burns which again to some came as quite the surprise.
“Those who study my boxing style are just wasting their time because I have courage that comes from my technique and plan,” Indongo said. “This is for the undisputed championship, which is history, a do-or-die game, but I’m ready 100 percent
“[Crawford] being tough is true, it’s tough to analyze. If he defeats me, everyone expects it,” Indongo said. “But the guy in Moscow was dangerous, too.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity. Terence is a very clean fighter. The ring will tell. I know he can switch [hands]. I [hit] to the body. I look with my eyes and see [what to do]. I know how to deal with things. I will handle it.
Indongo appeared in the crosshairs of Crawford after beating Troyanovsky and then Burns at Lightweight, two fighters that he, himself was chasing to fight beforehand, never really knowing of the immediate threat of Indongo until that point.
“We never heard of Indongo or even seen him fight, other than the fight that he had in Russia,” Crawford said during a conference call Wednesday. “We wanted the Troyanovsky fight, but he had turned us down and he decided to go with Indongo. So when we heard that he got knocked out, we had looked at the replay and looked at the fight. And then that’s when we first took notice of who Indongo really was.”
“We wanted the Ricky Burns fight at 140 as well,” said Crawford “They didn’t wanna take the fight that soon. They wanted to take the fight with Indongo, and then perhaps later in the year we could’ve made a fight between me and Ricky Burns again.
“But Indongo beat Ricky Burns and then that’s when we took notice and said, ‘Well, let’s go after this guy, since he got the other two titles. Let’s see if we can make a fight with him and unify.”
This fight has all the makings of a classic which is what the occasion calls for, two of the divisions best going head to head in a winner takes all situation, the end result one outright ruler.