Julius Indongo is ready to prove he belongs among 140’s best
Special guest contributor Tamas Pradarics shares his thoughts on IBF/IBO junior welterweight titlist Julius Indongo, ahead of the undefeated Namibian’s challenge of fellow titlist Ricky Burns today.
Let’s admit it: We love boxing because anything can happen, in any given moment, in the squared circle. This is why the Sweet Science is the purest metaphor for life in any sport. Pugilism is indeed the theater of the unexpected.
The most crystallized evidence of this happened in Moscow last December, when unheralded Namibian junior welterweight contender Julius Indongo demolished defending IBF/IBO champion Eduard Troyanovsky, 25-1 (22).
The dethronement, however, happened to be just part of the upset. It was just as shocking that the African fighter only needed 40 seconds to knock Troyanovsky out cold with a short left hook to the jaw.
A successful man is always surrounded by a team of important people on his way to achieve gold. For the new champion Indongo, 21-0 (11), the key person is manager/promoter Nestor Tobias.
The Namibian businessman knows the nature of the sport inside and out. Back in the 1980s, he was a fighter himself, who compiled a record of 11-6-1 (5) in a brief professional career that lasted roughly six years.
After his fighting days came to an end, Tobias founded the Nestor Sunshine Boxing & Fitness Academy, where he started training young and talented boxers. With his guidance, Paulus Moses won the WBA lightweight crown in 2009 against Yusuke Kobori in Japan. Four years later, Nestor helped another of his countrymen to the top in Paulus Ambunda. The latter won the WBO title by outpointing Pungluang Sor Singyu in a bantamweight matchup.
Indongo followed the route by becoming the fourth pugilist (former WBO junior middleweight/middleweight titlist Harry Simon was the first) to bring glory to the small African country.
The unexpected outcome made the short list for “Upset of the Year” candidacy by THE RING Magazine but it didn’t make it on Tobias’s personal list.
“I can understand why the world was shocked but, trust me, we were not as shocked as them,” the promoter told UCNLive.com. “We have watched Indongo knocking out opponents time and again and knocking out Troyanovsky was no different.”
As part of the Namibian team’s mental preparation, they brought both an IBF and an IBO belt with them to Moscow to make sure their fighter – who was a 25-1 underdog leading up to the bout – could pose with them when his countrymen welcome him home as the new champ.
With the win, the Namibian immediately became the most wanted fighter in the 140-pound division. Everyone wanted a piece of his instant fame. Offers came to Tobias from all over the world as promoters tried to secure a bout against Indongo for their own fighters.
Tobias waited patiently for the best possible offer and, in mid-January, a title unification bout was announced between Indongo and WBA beltholder Ricky Burns, scheduled for tonight.
To vie for another belt for his collection, Julius had to do something he did for the first time in December: He needed to travel. Today’s bout is going to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, meaning a home advantage to the three-division champ Burns.
Tobias, however, has another perspective on how the crowd is going to react to the performance of his fighter.
“We are informed that the venue seats 10,000 people. We obviously expect the venue to be packed to capacity and, for Burns’ sake, we wish the venue capacity was 20,000 because he is certainly going to need every voice to cheer him on just to hold on,” said the Namibian promoter.
“We expect a hostile and cheering crowd but we have a simple philosophy: Once we step in the ring, their fans become our fans. They might start cheering for Burns but, at the end, they will only have two options: Either to be completely quiet or to change course and recognize and cheer for the new WBA/IBF/IBO champion Julius Indongo.”
Indongo is looking forward to testing himself against an accomplished veteran of the sport, as he admitted in his own humble but confident tone.
“I am in great shape and had more than enough time to prepare for this fight. I am happy with the way my preparations went so far. I feel great, remain respectful to my opponent and will stick to the game plan, come April 15,” said Indongo.
“I think the world wants to see more of me, as the 40 seconds did not give them the opportunity to do so, but I am under no pressure. I want to go in and get the job done by any means necessary.”
The stakes are sky-high for the upset-minded Namibian titleholder. The winner of Burns vs. Indongo will be one of only five reigning unified champions in boxing today. That means new doors would open for even bigger opportunities in the future.
In fact, the leader of the junior welterweight division is another unified champion in Terence Crawford. THE RING Magazine/WBC/WBO titleholder is one of the finest pugilists today. In a potential super-fight between Crawford and the Burns-Indongo winner, all belts could be unified. That would be a unique matchup as only two fighters have been able to hold all four major titles at the same time (middleweight legend Bernard Hopkins and his successor, Jermain Taylor) since the WBO was formed in 1988.
“Crawford is a classy fighter and once we have the three belts, it would be up to him and HBO to decide whether they want to fight us or not. We will be humbled (to be part of such a fight),” said Tobias.
To ultimately manifest a potential super-fight against Crawford, first Indongo needs to win the most difficult fight in his career today. Ricky Burns is an experienced fighter, who never turned down any challenge to prove he is championship-caliber. He won WBO belts in the super featherweight and lightweight divisions. Last May, he resurrected his career when he won the vacant WBA version of the title against Michele Di Rocco in May.
Burns has never been stopped in his 15-and-a-half years as a pro fighter. Indongo will most likely need something more than just a well-placed left hook 40 seconds into the bout.
Perhaps the Namibian team has a WBA belt at hand going into the ring, just like they did in Russia, or other magic tricks. Nestor Tobias is a master at how to seize the moment.