On Saturday, August 19th, ESPN and Top Rank bless boxing fans once again, with a night of televised boxing, broadcast live from the Pinnacle Bank Arena, in Lincoln, Nebraska. The plan is for the evening to conclude with one and only one world champion at 140 pounds, as Terence "Bud" Crawford puts his two Jr. welterweight titles on the line against Julius "Blue Machine" Indongo, risking and representing the other two belts within the division. Winner takes all the laurels.
More than a month ago, Manny Pacquiao lost his world title to the (then) virtually anonymous Jeff Horn, while Vasyl Lomachenko continued to amaze, barely breaking a sweat against Miguel Marriaga, a couple weeks back. All thanks to ESPN, Top Rank and their new found commitment to featuring the stars of prizefighting on basic cable television, in lieu of traditional subscription networks like HBO or Showtime. With that being said, Crawford vs. Indongo will probably end up being the best, most competitive matchup aired thus far.
In a state renown for college football, Crawford (31-0, 22 KO's) has basically become its professional franchise. Nebraska doesn't possess NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL squads, and in absence of such, "Bud" has become a bankable commodity and certified live draw amongst his rabidly supportive fellow Cornhuskers. August 19th will be the fifth time he gets to put on for his people, with local dignitaries the likes of billionaire, Warren Buffet, typically in attendance.
Crawford has been a fixture on most pound for pound lists for the better part of the last three years, ranked as highly as fourth in that regard by RING Magazine. He's a former WBO lightweight champion and current possessor of the WBO and WBC Jr. welterweight titles. From A to Z, Terence is a well schooled, surgically precise, complete fighter; he jabs his way in, bangs the head and body evenly, has wicked uppercuts on the inside, gets good leverage on his shots due to proper balance, has power in both hands, you name it.
Replete with artillery of hurtful weapons, "Bud" Crawford's biggest asset is his ability to not only switch seamlessly from orthodox to southpaw, but jab just as well with whatever hand he’s leading with. For most fighters switching stances is superficial, a cheap party trick to temporarily throw the opponent off. But there's nothing cute or fancy about the way Terence does it, and the sole purpose is to create and exploit a different angle for a potential KO. Despite the “aw’shucks” country boy post-fight demeanor, Crawford thoroughly enjoys hurting people and is a good finisher once his adversary is ready for the kill.
Nitpicking, Crawford tends to start a bit slowly, and though he’s displayed a solid beard, his defense isn’t impenetrable. It must be said, Crawford has some Evander Holyfield in him though, meaning he looks for immediate payback, whenever a flush shot lands. Terence, standing 5’8, has also enjoyed a distinct size advantage over the vast majority of the men he’s faced at 135 and 140 pounds, which brings us to Indongo.
Julius Indongo (22-0, 12 KO's), from the African country of Namibia, was utterly and completely off the boxing radar until late 2016. He stretched undefeated IBF titlist, Eduard Troyanovsky, with a looping, overhand, counter left. Indongo turned off the lights quicker than Teddy Pendergrass, taking 40 whole seconds. He then schooled Ricky Burns over 12 extremely one-sided rounds, picking up the WBA strap. Crawford defeated the same fighter as well, unanimously, back in 2014.
The southpaw Indongo is the third world champion from Namibia, joining Harry Simon and Paulus Moses, and represented his homeland in the 2008 Olympics. To be blunt, Indongo is a big ass Jr. welterweight, standing 5’10 ½”, but he changes height levels by bending at the knees here and there. He’s fairly athletic, aggressive and punches harder than the number of KO’s on his tally indicates. Indongo also has a good southpaw jab to the head/body and a way of moving his right glove to distract his foe, before launching power lefts.
Make no mistake, Julius Indongo won’t be intimidated or caught up in the moment. He disposed of Troyonavsky in Moscow and beat Burns in Glasgow, so fighting in Terence Crawford’s home state won’t affect him at all. Crawford has to be favored, but Indongo is a live underdog here, and should provide a sterner test to Crawford than we’re used to seeing.