By Peter Lim
Most boxing pundits will agree that Terence Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs) is a class or two above everyone else in the 140-pound division. But Julius Indongo (22-0, 11 KOs) possesses a style so difficult it would give anyone nightmares, Crawford included.
If anyone has the best chance of pulling off an upset against the Nebraskan in Omaha, it would be the little known and enigmatic African.
An awkward, lanky southpaw, Indongo, 34, came out of obscurity (you couldn't get more obscure than Namibia) over the last eight months to capture two of the four junior welterweight belts. (Crawford owns the other two). He bounces around at a frenetic pace on springy legs while firing long, whippersnapper and deceivingly accurate punches from crazy angles.
In his two title fights, both in his opponents' backyards, Indongo has proven the ability to end a fight with a single punch 40 seconds into the fight (against Eduard Troyanovsky) and dominate for 12 rounds (against Ricky Burns).
But Crawford, 29, is the master of awkward. Sitting smack on the fence that separates awkwardness from versatility, he can fight effectively from both the southpaw and orthodox stances and shift from aggressive to defensive as and when he pleases. When things get too uncomfortable, he will strategically smother his opponent's rhythm in a clinch. He is infuriatingly hard to hit but when he does get caught, his chin has proven sturdy.
Thus far Crawford has not only overcome but dominated every adversary from slick speedsters to in-your-face brawlers and every style in between with ridiculous ease. Gifted with some sort of clairvoyance, Crawford stays a step or two ahead of his opponents, seemingly aware what they're going to do before they do.
But he has never faced an opponent as unpredictable as Indongo, who is more loose cannon than wild card. Will Crawford eventually figure out Indongo's style as he has everyone else and systematically break him down? Or will Indongo prove to be the ultimate gatecrashing road warrior and poop on his opponent's homecoming parade for his third consecutive title fight? Either way (short of a draw), there will be a unified and undisputed junior welterweight champion for the first time since Kostya Tszyu consolidated all the major belts in 2001.
See prediction for Crawford vs. Indongo at: http://peterliminator.blogspot.com/2017/08/terence-crawford-vs-julius-indongo.html