by Cliff Rold
While Terence Crawford may be rightly recognized as the best fighter in the Jr. welterweight division, and its current legitimate champion, he’s only got two of the four most recognized alphabet titles floating around.
The other two will be contested this Saturday in Scotland (AWE, 2:30 PM EST/11:30 AM PST). The IBO title will also be on the line. If we’re lucky, perhaps we get a winner to challenge Crawford, creating the chance for a rare five-belt unification fight.
If we’re even luckier, we’ll get one hell of a fight that paints both men in a light where what comes next matters much less than what we all just saw.
Let’s go the report card.
Title: IBF light welterweight (2016-Present, 1st attempted Defense), IBO light welterweight (2016-Present, 1st attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’10 ½
Weight: 139 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Windhoek, Namibia
Record: 21-0, 11 KO?
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0, 1 KO
Rankings: #1 (BoxingScene), #2 (TBRB), #3 (BoxRec), #5 (Boxing Monthly), #7 (ESPN, Ring)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Eduard Troyanovsky KO1
Title: WBA super lightweight (2016-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: WBO lightweight (2011-14, 4 Defenses); WBO super featherweight (2010-11, 3 Defenses)
Weight: 139 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Coatbridge, Scotland
Record: 41-5-1, 14 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 9-1-1, 5 KO (10-1-1, 5 KO including interim title fights)
Rankings: #3 (Boxing Monthly), #4 (Ring), #5 (ESPN), #7 (BoxRec), #9 (TBRB), #10 (BoxingScene)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Alex Arthur L12; Roman Martinez UD12; Nicky Cook TKO1; Paulus Moses UD12; Terence Crawford L12; Dejan Zlaticanin L12; Omar Figueroa L12
Pre-Fight: Speed – Indongo B; Burns B
Pre-Fight: Power – Indongo B; Burns B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Indongo B; Burns B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Indongo B; Burns B
This is a unique match in the sense that both men are so tall for their weight class. Burns has been tall for almost every class he’s competed in and faces someone of equal height here. Indongo also presents a challenge from the southpaw stance. The 2008 Olympian from Namibia might be the same age as Burns but he enters with a less rigorous professional log. His professional career has gradually evolved.
Being frank, Indongo isn’t a fighter with a thick dossier of footage. His title win over Troyanovsky was less than a minute. What’s out there suggests a solid, long jab and a hard left when it lands. It also suggests a bit of a head hunting style with punches that can often come looping rather than straight.
In contrast, Burns has always presented a heavy body attack and throws good, compact punches. He’s not a fighter who has ever shied away from a hard battle. Never stopped in almost fifty fights, his wars with Martinez and Figueroa were time capsule moments to display his toughness.
Burns can be outboxed but he rarely makes it easy. He’s fundamentally sound and, while hittable, keeps himself imposition to counter when attacked and lead when the openings are there. He’s the most accomplished professional Indongo has seen by a lot.
But part of that is Burns has seen a lot across three weight classes. Burns is slower is recent form than he was a few years ago but is there enough experience to overcome the fresher, perhaps hungrier, fighter?
For fans hoping to see further unification at 140 lbs., hopes likely lie with Indongo. We already know what Crawford-Burns looks like. Barring a monumental payday, Burns wouldn’t have much incentive to fight Crawford again. It is probably the question that will linger after this one. Barring another sparking a la Troyanovsky, there isn’t enough there from Indongo to see him scoring his second straight big road upset. Once Burns times his long left, he’s got a more developed arsenal to combat Indongo with. The pick is Burns to add a second belt at home in Scotland by decision.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2017: 9-6
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]