By Cliff Rold
Even being counted out in his all-belts-on-the-line unification with Terence Crawford last summer, Julius Indongo was a winner.
What else can one call a fighter few outside his native Namibia had ever heard of going from anonymous to the Crawford fight in just eight months?
Julius Indongo (22-1, 11 KO) won’t be able to say he was the undisputed champion at 140 lbs. but he can say he got halfway there, traveled the world, and made some good money along the way. That it all happened in less than a year made it the more remarkable. His consecutive wins over Eduard Troyanovsky in Moscow and Ricky Burns in Glasgow meant IBF and WBA belts. He came up short heading on the road again for Crawford but he still got there.
That’s a lifetime of winning for most men.
Indongo isn’t done trying to win some more. Friday night in Deadwood, South Dakota (yes, on Friday it’s Deadwood on Showtime (10 PM EST)…sorry, had to squeeze that one in), he has a chance to get right back into the title picture.
New Orleans native Regis Prograis (20-0, 17 KO) has an equal chance to finish sending Indongo back into obscurity. It’s a quality main event for the ShoBox series. Indongo-Prograis will be for a vacant interim WBC belt and how that all shakes out with the sanctioning body remains to be seen. It obviously puts the winner in the mix.
It’s an awkward mix for the moment. Crawford has vacated his titles at 140 lbs. and is now campaigning at welterweight. Leave it to the WBC to crown two champions to fill his shoes.
In little more than a week from now, undefeated US Olympian Jose Ramirez (21-0, 16 KO) will face Amir Imam (21-1, 18 KO) for the vacant WBC title. So, with no one holding a WBC belt in the division, there will be an interim titlist before the title itself is filled? Why not just order a four-man tournament?
Is this leading to a clash between the Prograis-Indongo and Ramirez-Imam winners?
Shouldn’t we know that going in?
It feels like hard work to come up with things this stupid.
The harder work will take place in the ring. Sanctioning body nonsense aside, this is a good fight on paper. If the WBC helped get us there, that isn’t all bad. It’s a critical fight for both men not just because of the title implications but because of where they are in their careers.
Indongo, at 35, can’t afford to lose two fights in a row. Tall and long for the class at nearly 5’11 with a 71’ inch wingspan, Indongo isn’t an easy puzzle. Crawford figured him out but Crawford might be the best fighter in any weight class right now. Prograis, so far, hasn’t looked in quite that air.
It doesn’t mean he hasn’t looked damn good or can’t get there. Prograis fights with the more dynamic style in this southpaw clash. He has sudden speed, good balance, head and upper body movement, and he can crack. Prograis comes to fight and if he watched the Crawford tapes he knows the body can be vulnerable for his lanky foe.
Prograis is only 27 so he has more time on his side than Indongo. A loss would still hurt. Boxing fans can be more fickle than ever these days and a single loss can sidetrack the wrong career. Prograis isn’t an early star; he isn’t likely to be afforded a tabloid advantage in overcoming an early career defeat. If he keeps winning, he has the style of a potential star.
His path to wealth and greater glory will require a sustained consistency of performance.
That leaves only one way up the ladder for both men on Friday night. It’s a clash between an older fighter who might even have surprised himself with the run he went on and a younger man who would surely love to get even that far.
Sometimes, clashes like these make memorable affairs no matter which battler slips down the rungs.
Black Panther has a shot at outgrossing the last Star Wars movie. Disney’s marketing campaign for that movie was brilliant and they had a fantastic product to deliver. Folks waiting for hero movie fatigue will wait a long time if quality continues to stay this high…Mikey Garcia-Sergey Lipinets and Oscar Valdez-Scott Quigg being on opposing networks is proof that DVR may have been divinely inspired…Here’s a thought: if Deontay Wilder goes on to become the undisputed champion, he’ll be closer in weight to the winner of the cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series than he is a Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury. Could we see something like Wilder versus the Usyk-Gassiev winner someday? Let’s hope so. It sound like fun…Amazon’s Electric Dreams might be as good as Black Mirror, with a little more story variety. It’s a Twilight Zone/Outer Limits battle for the streaming generation.
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]