As boxing fans, we need to put up with many faults within our sport. One of the most frustrating problems is the multitude of titles available. This leads to each weight class having more than one boxer referring to themselves as the “world champion.”
These sanctioning bodies aren’t going away anytime soon so we have to make the best of it.
If we accept that there are four main belts to fight for in this day and age – WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO – we must also acknowledge that until a fighter holds all of these crowns they can’t by rights be universally regarded as THE world champion at their weight. Fans hold opinions on who is the best in each division but the only way to know for sure is for title unification fights to take place which lead into two boxers clashing for the undisputed title.
Since the mid 2000s, the time when the WBO was recognised by the other organisations thus birthing the four belt era, you could count on one hand the amount of times all four titles have been up for grabs in one fight. Boxing politics, fighters moving into new weight classes and belts being manipulated by the governing bodies are all contributing factors to this being the case.
The last time ‘all of the belts’ were on the line in men’s boxing was way back in July 2005. On that night Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor fought it out for the title of undisputed champion in the middleweight division. There may be more titles than ever in modern boxing but fights to crown an undisputed king within any weight division are few and far between.
This is why the fight on August 19 in Lincoln, Nebraska is a historic one.
Light-welterweights Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo will face off at Pinnacle Bank Arena to decide who is the undisputed champion at 140lbs.
Terence “Bud” Crawford (31-0-0, 22KOs) is a two weight world champion and features in the top five of most pound-for-pound lists these days. The 29 year old switch-hitter from Nebraska has the benefit of home advantage as he attempts to complete his goal of holding all four major world belts at light-welterweight.
Crawford arrives at this juncture in possession of the WBC and WBO versions of the title. Terence won the WBO belt in his first fight at 140lbs, stopping Thomas Dulorme in round six back in April 2015. He added the WBC title in July 2016 after convincingly outpointing previously unbeaten Viktor Postol. In what should be his last outing at 140lbs “Bud” is a win away from underlining his dominance at light-welter, before moving up to seek new challenges in the talent laden welterweight division.
Standing in Crawford’s way is Julius “The Blue Machine” Indongo (22-0-0, 11KOs) of Namibia. A pro since 2009, Indongo, now 34, has only recently burst onto the international scene. He now has a chance to join an exclusive club as an undisputed world champion.
Less than a year ago very few boxing fans outside Namibia would have known much about Indongo. That all began to change in December last year when Indongo, fighting outside his home country for the first time, journeyed to Moscow and knocked-out Eduard Troyanovsky in 40 seconds. He left Moscow with a highlight reel KO and the IBF title. This led to a unification fight in Glasgow against Ricky Burns. Julius had Burns on the back foot from the beginning and cruised to a convincing unanimous decision victory. That added the WBA prize to Indongo’s collection. If “The Blue Machine” can win on the road for the third successive time it will guarantee him a place in boxing folklore.
Going into the bout Crawford is rightly regarded as the clear favourite. As impressive as his wins over Troyanovsky and Burns were, handing Crawford a defeat will be a far more difficult assignment for Indongo.
Terence Crawford fully deserves his lofty position in the current pound-for-pound standings (currently 3rd in the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board list). He does everything well in the ring and has a nasty streak so that when the time comes he can end a contest in style. Comfortable fighting out of either stance and adept at attacking from all angles, it really must be difficult trying to game plan to beat Crawford.
Although he hasn’t done this recently, Crawford has in the past started fights slowly. He has used the opening sessions to size up his opponent – gathering data to put to use later in contests – falling behind on the scorecards in doing so. If Terence does this against Indongo it may offer the Namibian a chance to build some momentum in the early stages.
Southpaw Indongo will hold the height and reach advantage when he faces Crawford. His unorthodox style, very tall upright stance and propensity for firing in shots from high and low angles, may well force the American boxer into a slow start. Against Burns, Indongo looked to be a superbly conditioned fighter so his plan may well be to box at pace behind his jab and really keep the pressure on Crawford with his looping attacks. As Troyanovsky found out the hard way we also know Indongo has one punch KO power in his left hand. This threat will have to be respected by Crawford.
Despite Indongo bringing a useful combination of size, fitness, power and ability I can only see there being one winner. Crawford is in a different league to all the fighters currently in the 140lb division. Indongo will give a good account of himself but I fully expect Crawford, perhaps after using the early rounds to take a good look at his foe, to take a unanimous decision.
With the rare occurrence of all the belts being on the line I recommend you tune in to Crawford vs. Indongo on Saturday night. ESPN will show it in the US. In this four belt era it may be more than a decade before the stars align again and we get another fight with all the gold on the line. Either Crawford or Indongo will add their own special chapter to the boxing record books. History will be made, there is no disputing that.