Scotland plays host to a light-welterweight unification fight on Saturday as Ricky Burns (41-5-1, 14KOs) takes on Julius Indongo (21-0-0, 11KOs) at The Hydro in Glasgow. Burns, holder of the WBA title, will be looking to add to his legacy by becoming the first Scotsman to hold more than one world belt within his weight division. Indongo, the IBF titlist, hopes to make his own bit of history while ruining the party. It will be an interesting fight.
Returning for his third fight in a row at the still relatively new venue, Burns will once again enjoy the backing of a large, vocal crowd. The home fans will show up in their thousands expecting the local man to add Indongo’s title to his collection. It is difficult to say whether or not this expectation is misplaced as Indongo is very much an unknown quantity. The man from the South-West African nation of Namibia is boxing for only the second time outwith his home country – his previous non-Namibian outing being his last bout which lasted all of forty seconds. More on that particular fight in due course.
The other title holder at 140lbs is Terence Crawford (WBO/WBC). The talented American really is a cut above everyone in the division so for Burns and Indongo Saturday is simply about adding the other man’s title and then looking at where the most lucrative fight is moving forward. Both boxers are 34 years old so the winner could hardly be blamed for looking elsewhere if a showdown with Crawford is not the most financially rewarding fight on offer.
Burns, thanks to his tremendous work ethic and never say die attitude is known and respected by boxing fans all over the world. When settling down to watch Burns perform spectators know that no matter what the fight throws at him Ricky will give full effort for the duration. The five defeats on his ledger were all via decision. Not even the aforementioned Crawford could stop Burns when they met at 135lbs in 2014.
We also know that boxing wise Burns’ best attribute is his jab. If Ricky can get into a rhythm boxing behind that punch and controlling the range then he can open up the rest of his offense while piling up the points on the scorecards. If he can establish his jab and take control of the boxing match from it’s opening stages then Burns may well be leaving the ring with an additional belt.
But what of Indongo? Could the lack of footage of the IBF champion be the Namibian’s best asset coming into this fight?
Here’s what we do know. Indongo is a tall and rangy southpaw. He won his world title last time out in Moscow by knocking out previously unbeaten Eduard Troyanovsky. Indongo landed a missile on the Russian’s chin after forty seconds. On that night last December Indongo was not expected to leave Moscow with anything other than a reasonable paycheck. He was put there to lose so it was quite a sensational upset when Troyanovsky, who looked like he hadn’t afforded Julius the respect he deserved, was put to sleep after squaring his feet up and getting tagged with a huge left. After that devastating show of his power it would be foolish for any fighter to take Indongo lightly ever again.
We also know that in his previous twenty fights before dethroning Troyanovsky Indongo boxed exclusively in Namibia and the combined record of his opponents was 175-91-12. Not exactly a murderers row and perhaps that is why Troyanovsky took his eye off the ball when he faced him. Despite the level of opposition he boxed at home being questionable Indongo still had to win these bouts in order to arrive where he has now. A professional since 2008 the man known as “The Blue Machine” will carry the confidence of an undefeated world champion into this weekend’s encounter.
As mentioned Indongo is a tall and rangy southpaw and this could be problematic for Burns come fight time. Despite their official height and reach statistics being close it looks to me, when seeing both men standing side by side, that Indongo will hold a decent advantage in both these departments. Ricky Burns, by his own admission, has not performed at his best against southpaw boxers in the past – will this be a key factor on Saturday?
One further question that should be raised concerns Indongo’s stamina. If we accept that his bouts during his apprenticeship weren’t against the highest calibre of opponent, it is fair to ask how will he hold up if the bout with Burns goes into the late rounds. We know that Ricky has a great engine and has gone the distance many times in his career against solid opposition. The same can’t be said for Indongo. Perhaps this will be the key factor in the bout. We also know Burns will not be underestimating his opponent so expect the Scotsman to be on guard against the big left hand of Indongo all the way through the fight.
It is rare in this day and age for a world title holder to come into a fight with so little being known about them. This may not be ideal for Burns and his team but for anyone planning to watch the contest (Sky Sports – UK/AWE+KLOWDTV – USA) it adds an element of excitement as we don’t fully know what to expect from Indongo. The best advice I can offer is to attend in person or tune in as one way or another history will be made in Glasgow come Saturday night.