Monday, March 20, 2023  |



Julius Indongo proves he’s for real, beats Burns to unify 140-pound belts

Photo: Steve Welsh

GLASGOW, Scotland – It takes a special type of character to march into hostile territory and walk the walk. The news for fight fans is that “The Blue Machine” is for real.

An 8,000-strong crowd at the SSE Hydro booed IBF junior welterweight titleholder Julius Indongo incessantly, as he made his way to the ring, but he wasn’t listening. The unbeaten Namibian maintained his focus to score a wide 12-round unanimous decision over Ricky Burns to add the WBA 140-pound title to his collection.

The scores were 120-108, 118-110 and 116-112 for the new unified titleholder.

“The better man won,” said Burns during his post-fight interview. “He was so awkward and he can hit. The height and reach advantage (were troublesome) and he was always out of distance. I’ll sit down with (promoter) Eddie (Hearn) on Monday and see where we go from here.”

Indongo, who was rated No. 6 by THE RING at 140 pounds coming in, took ring center early and dictated behind big left hands out of the southpaw stance. Burns, instantly concerned about the power coming at him, did well to avoid serious damage but he was forced to watch during the early stages.

The Scotsman began to fight in the third, landing with a brace of sharp right hands, but he struggled to maintain any real consistency. Indongo’s right jab was effective, the follow-up left was damaging, and he diversified that shot extremely well between body and head. That type of variable offense kept the home fighter guessing.

Burns sensed urgency and had his best round in the sixth. He drove the Namibian backward and applied steady pressure with some quick combinations. A nice left-hand counter was coming over the top of Indongo’s right jab but the success disappeared as quickly as it came. The clock was ticking and Burns’ raucous home support tried their best to lift their man. It was all in vain.

There was a train of thought that Indongo (22-0, 11 knockouts) had landed the lottery punch when he iced Eduard Troyanovski in just 40 seconds last December. That night in Moscow, one big left hand was all it took and the rangy Namibian was a world titleholder. The downside of such a stunning victory is that there’s room for doubt. Was it a lucky punch? Was Troyanovski caught cold? Did Troyanovski underestimate Indongo?

After tonight, those questions are likely to cease.

Burns (41-6-1, 14 KOs) had won the vacant WBA junior welterweight title by stopping Michele Di Rocco in eight rounds last May. He went through hell in his first defense, against Kiryl Relikh, but managed to pull out a 12-round unanimous decision. Burns then immediately targeted Indongo and while that gamble may have backfired, expect to see the proud Scotsman back in the ring this year.

For Indongo, the sky is the limit.

Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel.  Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing