#Allthebelts: Crawford vs Indongo preview
Callum Rudge looks ahead to the mouthwatering four-belt unification fight between American Terence Crawford and Namibia's perennial underdog Julius Indongo...
This weekend we will see a rare unification of the ‘Big 4’ belts when Terence Crawford (31-0) meets Julius Indongo (22-0).
Before we talk about the fight itself it’s important to point out the significance of such a unification. The winner on Saturday will be the first man to hold all four major titles (WBA, WBC, IBF & WBO) since Jermain Taylor beat Bernard Hopkins via split decision in July 2005.
Taylor didn’t even make it to the rematch with all four belts in his possession as the IBF stripped him. Previously Hopkins had unified the four belts against Oscar De La Hoya and defended them successfully just once against Howard Eastman.
This 12-year gap between 'total' unifications shows the maddening effect promotional politics is having on our sport and credit has to go to Top Rank for making this fight happen.
As for the bout itself, it brings together two undefeated champions with two belts apiece in their posession. However, it is Crawford who is the massive betting favourite, with one bookie making him a prohibitive 1/100 odds-on favourite, while Indongo is rated anywhere between a 6/1 and 9/1 outsider.
Such odds speak to the ease with which Crawford has dealt with his opponents during his career thus far, and in particular the way he handled his last unification bout, against Ukrainian Victor Postol who he dropped and whitewashed 12 rounds to nil to take the WBC title just over a year ago.
There are some similarities between that fight and this - Indongo, like Postol, is the taller man (5’10” to Crawford’s 5’8”) and has the longer reach (71.5” to 70”). However Indongo probably has faster hands than Postol and is a southpaw to boot so will present a different challenge for 'Bud'.
The 34-year-old Indongo, like Crawford, has had everything his own way in his pro career, winning the IBF title in a round last December against Eduard Troyanovsky in Russia before trouncing Ricky Burns to annex the WBA Title in Glasgow in April. Burns was the favourite going into that fight and Indongo surprised many with his dominating display in hostile territory, winning many new fans along the way.
The problem with Indongo is the level of opposition he’s faced - he didn’t box outside of Namibia until his 21st fight and lacks the depth of experience at the highest level, unlike Crawford who has been steadily boxing better opposition since his breakout win over Breidis Prescott in 2013.
The only time Crawford has been troubled in that time was against tricky Cuban Yuriokis Gamboa who gave the Nebraska man a lot of problems with his handspeed and swift feet in their 2014 'Fight of the Year' candidate. Like Gamboa, Indongo has very nice footwork and will be hoping that his superior size and range will help him cause an upset.
The problem for the African fighter is that Crawford is an elite talent; he has that almost unique ability to box at both orthodox and southpaw at an equal level. He has fast hands and spite in his punches and while Indongo is a world level fighter, he doesn’t have the tools or experience to beat an special one like Crawford.
The 29-year-old Crawford is a likely future pound-for-pound number one and the only thing that will stop him being the biggest star in the sport is not being able to get the biggest names on his CV.
That, though, is a problem for the future. For now Crawford’s task is Indongo and while I don’t expect a whitewash like the Postol fight, I do expect Crawford to stop the 'Blue Machine' inside ten rounds to unify the division and make a little bit of history along the way.