If you’re going to listen to any Crawford vs Indongo predictions this weekend, this is the one you need to read.
Not since Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya put their respective Middleweight titles on the line has two fighters unified a single division.
That is until Saturday (August 19th) when two world champions clash to become the undisputed Super Lightweight champion of the world.
That night in 2004, Hopkins held three of the recognised unified titles, while De La Hoya brought along his WBO belt. Hopkins would complete his monopoly of the division that night, before ultimately losing all four titles two fights later to Jermain Taylor.
For many years since, even witnessing two recognised world champions meeting for their respective straps has become an anomaly. But there has been a sudden resurgence bringing the boxing world more and more unification clashes.
Gennady Golovkin has all but locked out the Middleweight division, holding three belts, while Keith Thurman retained his WBA Welterweight title while relieving Danny Garcia of his WBC belt earlier this year. And the new World Boxing Super Series at Cruiserweight will see three of the recognised world titles be held aloft at the finale by one fighter.
But kicking off the new season of boxing will be a bout between two already unified champions.
The favourite is the highly regarded potential face of boxing, Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford 31-0(22KO’s). The undefeated Crawford holds both the WBC and WBO titles, winning the later in a vacant title contest before unifying the two against former WBC kingpin Viktor Postol.
Beating Postol was Crawford’s first time dicing with the bigtime market, but now, live on ESPN – in the US and Sky Sports in the UK- Crawford will take that wealthy experience against another double world champion.
That man is Namibian Julius Indongo 22-0(11KO’s), the WBA and IBF ruler. The belts have been won in back-to-back fights, and now looks to complete a hattrick of upsets on the road.
Indongo stunned the boxing world when levelling Eduard Troyanovsky in just one round to strip the Russian of his IBF crown. Then it was off to Scotland to dominate Ricky Burns for a wide points win, adding the WBA belt around his waist.
The two are a combined 53-0(33KO’s) and meet in one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year and certainly the biggest of the month!
The general feeling is that the experienced Crawford offers too much in every category for an Indongo that has shown to be world class, but not yet a special talent.
But between his punching power and boxing skills, the visitor should come in with the confidence he will display exactly that in front of a packed-out Pinnacle Bank Arena in Nebraska.
Indongo boxed masterfully against Burns, but questions will be raised about just how much of the old Ricky was left that night. However, the Scotsman still had his moments to suggest that Indongo would not have gotten away with such a lopsided win had he not been a world level fighter.
For Indongo, this is his super bowl. And so it should be. A victory would likely always stand as the biggest of his career.
(A taste of Crawford’s camp life this year via Top Rank YouTube):
For Terence, it is merely another step towards the top, a route that the Omaha native has no plans to take slowly. A win for Crawford will either lead to a ‘fight of the year’ type clash with Mikey Garcia or the former Lightweight champion will move up to the lucrative match-ups at 147lbs.
Postol looked a huge threat to Crawford’s unbeaten ledger last year, but the switch-hitting Terence made easy work of a 12-round shutout. Indongo may have more dimensions to his game than Postol did that night, but the feeling remains that Crawford just has too many tricks under his sleeve.
A fast start from Indongo is a must, giving early rounds to the star of the show will leave him a hole only an unbelievable comeback will drag him out of.
The pick is for Crawford to make early noise, snapping in and out as Indongo attempts to find a rhythm behind the jab.
Crawford’s timing and controlling of distance will prove too difficult to fathom, and in spite of the odd successes, Indongo will spend much of the fight feeling second best.
There is little shame in coming up short when your opponent is as good as Crawford is. And that will be the case as ‘Bud’ switches from southpaw to orthodox and begins to land the right cross with regularity against Indongo’s own southpaw stance.
A stoppage would be the ideal way for Crawford to make the perfect statement, and having not pushed for the finish against Postol, the feeling is that he will look to be more spiteful here.
But Indongo looks a resilient fighter, and having drawn on some successes in the middle rounds, will see off the late barrage.
Crawford can at least drop Indongo late on, but unless the referee steps in hastily, he will have to settle for another wide points victory.
Indongo’s chance will come again once Crawford relinquishes the titles, while ‘Bud’ will make the first historic imprint in a career that is still on the rise.