Belts matter. Just ask Julius Indongo
There was a story last week on BoxingScene.com that focused on how Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo (who headline on ESPN this Saturday night from Lincoln, Nebraska) were paying more than $100,000 apiece in sanctioning fees, as they try to fully unify the junior welterweight division.
Yeah, it’s more than just a small chunk of change but, in that piece penned by Keith Idec, it also reads that the duo would be earning on this night “undisclosed seven-figure purses.”
So yeah, say it with me: “BELTS MATTER!”
Always have and they always will.
Yeah, a hundred large is certainly a significant amount but it says here that it’s a small price to pay for a shot at history (being an undisputed champion). Without the four belts on the line, what is the real appeal of this match-up?
Crawford, who is one of the premier prizefighters in America (coming in with the WBC and WBO belts), has been a staple of HBO, and now ESPN, and long ago passed the seven-figure threshold on his fight purses. But Indongo – the owner of the IBF and WBA straps – is not just relatively unknown to Stateside fans but flat-out anonymous.
That said, he has those supposedly “worthless” belts, that some have tried to create a cottage industry out of devaluing. However the reality is these titles are more valuable than ever in this fractured business. Yes, independent rankings are useful but they are also largely inconsequential in the real world of boxing. They create fights and economic opportunities for fighters such as Indongo that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
A large reason why Indongo got this lucrative assignment at the Pinnacle Bank Arena (where he won’t be responsible for one single ticket sold at this venue this weekend) is because of the belts around his waist.
Carl Moretti, the Vice President of Boxing Operations for Top Rank clarifies, “It’s THE reason. If Julius Indongo didn’t have any belts, I doubt that we’d be fighting him. He’s a 6-foot-1 southpaw with some speed, so it’s not someone you’d be aggressively going out looking to fight in an optional defense. But the fact he has not one but two titles further legitimizes his credibility.”
Without his belts, Indongo is a J.A.G. – just another guy. One who is not only unknown but also not worthy of the risk represented. But with the IBF and WBA straps, he becomes a much-needed part of history that Crawford and Top Rank need to build this brand.
“Clearly, his value is the belts and the fact that they weren’t vacant titles against hand-picked guys in the ratings,” pointed out Moretti. “They were legitimate world champions, where he literally went into their backyards and took their titles.” Moretti added with a chuckle, “God forbid he does it on Saturday.”
Back in December, Indongo went to Moscow, Russia as the No. 15 contender by the IBF and was paired with Eduard Troyanovsky for that title. What was thought to be a relatively easy defense instead turned into a stunning upset in which “The Blue Machine” halted Troyanovsky in one.
So Ricky Burns, who had the WBA title at the time, and looking to add to his belt collection and his value, faced Indongo back in April in Glasgow. (Ask yourself this, without Indongo’s title, does Burns and his brain trust even broach the idea of facing him – or beyond that, even know who the hell he is?) Once again, Indongo played the role of road warrior and blanked Burns over 12 rounds, easily out-boxing him from the outside.
Just like that, Indongo became a valuable entity. And after parlaying the IBF title into the Burns fight, he then doubled up on that with the WBA trinket and will now cash in with the Crawford fight.
There are a few select fighters like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who can eschew certain belts based on their drawing power, which far transcends the need for titles. He is boxing’s “One percent.” The rest like Indongo are absolutely aided by this current system. Without it, he’s most likely just another avoided southpaw stuck in South Africa.
Now, he’s making seven figures.
Yeah, belts matter.
In the early morning hours, American boxing fans woke up to the news that Luis Nery had taken the WBC bantamweight title by stopping long-reigning Japanese champion Shinsuke Yamanaka in four entertaining rounds.
Nery, 24-0 (18), a hard-hitting and fan-friendly southpaw, is just 22 years old. The future seems very bright for him. And it has to be pointed out that Nery earned this shot at the title by defeating Jesus Martinez in March in an eliminator, which placed him in the mandatory position with the WBC.
So yeah…well, you know.
OK, it’s time again to update my pound-for-pound list. Now, a ton of research has gone into this and it’s something I take very seriously – because, after all, it’s a pound-for-pound list. There are special mathematical formulas involved with fancy algorithms and the like. I also convene a special panel to get its input. It’s an exhaustive process but it’s something I do for the benefit of my readers. So here goes…
10 – Wide-Ruled Notebook Paper: OK, the toughest part of this job is transcribing all the interviews I do and this is my preferred choice. Sorry, but “college-ruled” is simply too thin and skinny for my taste. Wide-ruled lines give you plenty of space for your pen to roam. Mead is the only brand I buy.
9 – Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar: I got turned on to this a few months ago and now, every morning, I wake up to take a mix. It’s highly recommended and good for the insides of your body. It has me feeling like new as I begin the day. Here’s the detox I take.
8 – Popcorners: OK, it’s not popcorn and it’s not really a chip but it’s a damn good snack. I personally love the cheddar flavor. The only problem is not all the supermarkets carry it. Speaking of which…
7 – Zima: This cool, crisp, refreshing drink has made a summer return but, again, it’s very difficult to find and I’m assuming that, as the summer comes to a close, Zima will once again fade into Bolivian. But seriously, is there anything better on a warm summer night than a Zima on the rocks with a Jolly Rancher? (My favorite flavor is green apple.) You can find all the locations that sell “The Nectar of Gawds” here.
6 – “Gung Ho”: To make this clear, I’m talking about the movie, not the sitcom, but yeah, this flick stands the test of time. This is Michael Keaton at his best. This movie is one of the best of the 1980s and not nearly iconic enough in my view. Hunt Stevenson is what America is all about and hey, “I tell ya; I thought it handled great!” still cracks me up to this day.
5 – “Dead Mall Series”: I read a Time Magazine (yeah, I still read magazines) on the decline of American shopping malls and it mentioned this YouTube series from Dan Bell and I’ve been binge-watching it the past week. As someone who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, it’s incredibly depressing and sad to see these retail ghost towns. Seriously, what’s creepier?: The ones that are still open with just a few stores (and few customers) or the ones that are abandoned and rotting?
Now, that said, “The Shops at Montebello” (formerly the Montebello Town Center) is still vibrant and lively, which warms my heart, given it’s a place I spent plenty of time in as a kid (and still frequent) and I remember many of my high school classmates having jobs here. So Dan Bell wont be coming here anytime soon.
4 – “The Carmichael Show” on NBC: Alright, I gotta admit I was waaaay late to this party. I mean, so late to the party that, by the time I get there and could even have my second vodka and club soda, it’s ending. Just as I was getting into his sitcom starring comedian Jerrod Carmichael, it was announced it was being canceled. Good grief. But this show is not only funny; it deals with some real delicate and sensitive issues in a humorous way. It’s as provocative as it is funny.
David Alan Grier is hilarious but the mother Cynthia, played by Loretta Devine, is my favorite character.
3 – “Insecure” on HBO: Yeah, “Game of Thrones” gets all the plaudits on HBO but Issa Rae’s second season has been nothing short of spectacular, right? It says here that, while “Ballers” has tailed off, this show is getting better and better. And with “Ray Donovan” back on Showtime for its latest season, Sunday night is the best night on television.
But really, did Lawrence have to do that to Tasha? She deserved much better.
2 – “SuperFly”: What? You thought there WOULDN’T be something related to boxing here? This is a great card from top-to-bottom and it should be an electric atmosphere at the StubHub Center on September 9. And for the real boxing fans, it’s perhaps the best deal for their money, sandwiched between the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor money grab on August 26 and the Saul Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin fight, which was priced rather high.
And most importantly, K2 Promotions Managing Director Tom Loeffler says he has asked the StubHub Center about adding extra vendors for beer and booze.
1 – Miami Hurricanes front 7: Yeah, I’m being biased here; sue me. It’s my list; I don’t care. But while the Hurricanes have questions at quarterback, on the opposite of the ball, they bring back a load of talent on defense. It says here that it’s Miami’s most loaded unit since the glory days of 2000-2003. A deep defensive line with NFL talent all over and talented freshman (DJ Johnson and Jonathan Garvin) upfront, backed up by “The Bermuda Triangle 2.0” at linebacker (Shaq Quarterman, Zach McCloud and Michael Pinckney). Anything short of being a Top 10 defense will be a huge letdown for this unit led by coordinator Manny Diaz.
So there it is, my pound-for-pound list. I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn’t, well, you’re probably taking this stuff too seriously.
SANCTIONING FEE FLURRIES
So, with Josh Warrington being pulled from last week’s purse bid with Joseph Diaz Jr., Golden Boy Promotions is looking for Diaz to face someone else on September 16…Moretti says there will be at least 10,000 in attendance to see Crawford-Indongo at the Pinnacle Bank Arena, with the ability to add more seats if need be…Raging Babe Promotions will stage a show at the Durham Armory on October 19 in Raleigh, North Carolina…The San Diego Chargers just can’t shake the injury bug…The “30 for 30: Morningside 5” was very well done. Stais Boseman was a Southern California legend in high school…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.