Julius Indongo makes history . . . a puzzle that caught the boxing sport off guard
By Andreas Thomas
WINDHOEK – Namibia’s Julius ‘Blue Machine’ Indongo (34) returned home to a rapturous welcome after writing himself into the boxing history books when he defeated his Scottish nemesis to unify the WBA, IBO and IBF super lightweights world titles at SSE Hydro in Glasgow on Saturday night.
Indongo defeated the former WBA Super lightweight world champion Ricky Burns, to add to his International Boxing Federation (IBF) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) super lightweight belts that he won earlier in December 2016.
Indongo, a police officer, was an enigma to international boxing, until he revealed his true self, when he demolished Eduard Troyanovsky of Russia in 40 seconds of the first round in Moscow.
Even Tony Sims, Burns trainer and several western media were puzzled about the Namibian fighter – due to his little boxing history online.
Tris Dixson of Boxingscene.com wrote that: “Piecing together the Julius Indongo puzzle beforehand was not easy. We now know more. Ahead of their unification fight at Glasgow’s atmospheric Hydro, there was the 40-second highlight reel that showed Indongo destroying Russia’s Eduard Troyanovsky, and there were a couple of brief clips – uploaded by the fighter himself on YouTube – confirming what his bare statistics reveal, that he is a tall, awkward and rangy southpaw.
“But his record, including wins over Kaizer Mabuza and Zolani Marali, didn’t reveal his quality. And his age, 34, did not uncover how well preserved he could be. Ahead of the Burns fight, his trainer Nestor Tobias said his man could box for another five years”.
Yes, now everyone in the boxing circles knows about Indongo.
“Clearly world class, Indongo is a secret no more, and is now likely to go on the road again – this time to the United States – where the American Terence Craword, considered the No 1, holds the other two world title belts,” Gareth A Davies of UK’s The Telegraph wrote.
Davies summed up the fight that: “The ringside judges scored the WBA/IBF 140lbs unification contest 120-108, 118-110, 116-112 for the extremely tall, awkward southpaw who used all his physical advantages to show his world class, cleverly targeting both body and head to bamboozle the Scotsman, one of only three British boxers ever to hold belts in three weight divisions”.
Basking in glory
“I feel very proud, I believe the whole country will get the whole day off,” Boxingscene.com quoted the jubilant Indongo after the fight.
“As a boxer in Namibia, we have to work three times harder than boxers in Europe or elsewhere because we are part-time boxers. We have full-time day jobs, and when we have big fights we have to get leave to prepare.
“We are, however, very passionate about the sport of boxing, and that is why we put in the extra work. We are certainly among the greatest boxing nations of the world, seeing that we only have a population of approximately 2,3 million people and already have produced four world champions.”
But there will be no shortage of challengers to Indongo’s titles with the undeafeted American Terence Craword (29), the two-weight world champion, having held the unified WBC, WBO having hinted that he wants to fight the winner between Indongo vs Burns. Indongo is undefeated in 22 professional fights.
Burn’s promoter Tommy Hearn has also hinted at a rematch. But Boxingscene.com reported that Indongo owes a mandatory tittle defence to undefeated Sergey Lipinets a former kickboxer from Kazakhstan.
“And the Lipinets camp is not going to step aside, which is really irrelevant because the IBF does not allow step-aside deals,” as per Boxingscene.com.
But that’s for another day – Julius Indongo is currently basking in glory.
The victory in Glasgow is the result of hard work for the past 15 years, he told local media upon his arrival from Europe on Monday. “I thank all my sparring partners and those who gave me advice and encouragement, especially (former world champion) Harry Simon who told me to win convincingly when in a foreign land as it helped in my fight on Saturday,” he is quoted as saying by Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA).
Indongo is the fourth Namibian to be crowned world boxing champion. Harry Simon won his first title in 1998 when he defeated Winky Wright for the WBO Light middleweight.
Simon defeated American boxer Winky Writgh to be crowned WBO Light Middleweight world champion in August 1998 and in April 2002 won the WBO Middleweight title.
And Simon has implored Julius Indongo to keep his style of boxing as no boxer can currently match it.
“I remember last year when I met with Julius after winning his first world titles; I told him to win convincingly if he gets in the ring especially in a foreign country and he did that. I am really proud of you my brother,” Simon, the former WBO Light middleweight, who was among the crowds that welcomed Indongo at Hosea Kutako International Airport, was quoted by NAMPA on Monday.
Paulus Moses won the WBA lightweight world title in January 2009 after defeating Yusuke Kobori of Japan. While, Paulus Ambunda was the next to be crowned WBA bantamweight world champion after Pungluang Sor Singyu of Thailand.
Ambunda went on to win the vacant IBO Super Bantamweight title in August 2015 beating Leandro Esperante of Argentina. He successfully defended the crown against Jason Cooper of Australia in December 2015, before losing it to Mexican Moises ‘Chucky’ Flores in June 2016.
Moses, Ambunda and Indongo fight under the tutelage of Africa’s top boxing promoter, Nestor Tobias of MTC Nestor Tobias Sunshine Boxing and Fitness Academy.