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Julius Indongo stakes his claim: Weekend Review

Photo: Steve Welsh
17
Apr

BIGGEST WINNER

Julius Indongo: Indongo was an absolute unknown to most boxing fans only eight months ago because the junior welterweight titleholder had fought exclusively in his native Namibia.

Since then, the heir to successful countrymen Harry Simon and Paulus Moses has traveled to the backyards of two solid opponents – Eduard Troyanovsky and Ricky Burns – and demonstrated that he is a legitimate player at 140 pounds.

Indongo (22-0, 11 knockouts) unveiled his power against the then-unbeaten Troyanovsky in December in Moscow, stopping the Russian in only 40 seconds. And he proved he could box well by easily outpointing veteran Ricky Burns (120-108, 118-110 and 116-112) to unify the IBF and WBA titles before hostile fans on Saturday in Glasgow, Scotland, near Burns’ hometown of Coatbridge.

Those were strong statements.

Where does Indongo go from here? RING junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford, who also holds the WBC and WBO titles, said beforehand that he wants to fight the winner of Indongo-Burns to unify all four sanctioning body belts.

That matchup probably would put an abrupt end to Indongo’s momentum; he’s good but not that good.

If that fight doesn’t happen and Crawford moves up to 147 pounds, which he is likely to do in the not-too-distant future, the junior welterweight division will be particularly weak. That means Indongo realistically could end up as the top 140-pounder in the world.

Of course, he would have to beat the next-level junior welterweights to get there. If he doesn’t fight Crawford, I would like to see him meet either former titleholder Viktor Postol or talented Antonio Orozco – good, experienced fighters who almost certainly covet Indongo’s belts.

Victories over either or both of them – which would be far from guaranteed – would further strengthen Indongo’s position as a top-tier fighter and set him up for bigger, more-lucrative challenges in the future.

He had better act quickly, though; Indongo is 34.

RABBIT PUNCHES

Burns (41-6-1, 14 KOs) might’ve fought for a major title for the last time, although he has the type of determination that could keep him afloat among relevant fighters for a while. The former three-division titleholder, now 34, won the WBA title against a “soft” opponent in Michele Di Rocco and hasn’t been able to beat his best opponents over the past three-plus years, losing to Crawford, Dejan Zlaticanin, Omar Figueroa and now Indongo. He also drew with Ray Beltran, who most observers feel was cheated. Another title shot would be difficult to justify. … Light heavyweight contender Dmitry Bivol (10-0, 8 KOs) made the most of his first high-profile fight in the U.S., stopping Samuel Clarkson (19-4, 12 KOs) on Friday in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Bivol, from Russia, appears to be the latest in a growing number of talented Eastern European fighters with tight technique and a killer instinct. Love his laser-straight, accurate punches. He could be a threat to the top 175-pounders. … Junior lightweight Charles Huerta (19-5, 12 KOs) won his first fight in 3½ years when he upset Ivan Delgado (11-1-1, 4 KOs) by a third-round KO in the “L.A. Fight Club” main event Friday in Los Angeles. Huerta, now 30, was among a group of promising youngsters who took part in Golden Boy’s original club series in downtown L.A. beginning in 2009, the best of whom turned out to be Ronny Rios, but several setbacks curtailed his career. He took a three-year hiatus from boxing only to lose again in his comeback fight, a split decision against Carlos Morales in December. Persistence paid off with his victory over Delgado. Good for him.

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