On Saturday 15th of April at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, Ricky Burns (41-6-1,14KOs) met Julius Indongo (22-0,11KOs) for a unification bout of the IBF; the WBA and the IBO World Super Lightweight titles.
Indongo was a relatively unknown boxer…..until Saturday. He represented his country in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, in the Lightweight division but lost to Anthony Little from Australia. Soon after, he made his debut in professional boxing in July 2009, winning against Pohamba Mandume (6-6-3,1KO). He fought solely in Nambia for his first 20 fights in the pro game and became the WBO Africa Super Lightweight champion when he fought James Onyango (23-11-1,19KOs) in 2012. He has since defended the belt six times and has truly shown his worth in his home country.
Little was known about him in the UK and he was only truly recognised as something of a contender when he faced Eduard Troyanovsky (25-1, 22KOs), from Russia, in December last year. The fight was on “The Eagle” Troyanovsky’s home turf and he was set as the favourite to win the bout, defending his IBF and IBO belts. Indongo, however, shocked and amazed onlookers by finishing the fight with a knockout punch in the 40th second of the first round. The crowd were stunned and the only applause came when their man, “The Eagle”, was back on his feet.
In the lead up to his fight with Indongo, Burns spoke with Sky Sports about his opponent and showed confidence in saying “I don’t think he’s gonna be as big a devastating puncher as people think he is…but don’t get me wrong, he will be awkward”. With ‘Rickster’ being an Orthodox fighter, he knew that his Southpaw opposition from Nambia was going to be a challenge. He expected that they would go the whole twelve rounds, but maybe he had underestimated Indongo’s ability, possibly considering him as a less experienced fighter compared to himself.
In the first, we saw Indongo start the round fast, possibly looking for a repeat performance of his last bout and wanting to get Burns out quickly. Burns held his own, but with Indongo showing a higher work rate and took the round.
In the second, it looked close to being a more evenly fought round – however, Indongo was not letting up and that advantage of height and reach was really starting to show.
The third, was again in Indongo’s control and he had Burns against the ropes momentarily. In the fourth, he was targeting Burns’ body and once more showed a better work rate than his opponent.
In the fifth, the lack of hand work from Burns provoked concerns that he may not be able to pull the fight back. I was curious as to whether the rumours of Indongo’s heavy hits were becoming a reality for Burns.
In the sixth, we saw Burns actively seeking a counter attack that may have been able to slow Indongo down. Burns, however, began to look uncomfortable with the pace and a huge counter from Indongo had the Scottish champ’s legs stiffen up briefly.
In round seven, Burns improved his work rate, but was still falling behind in his ability to land those necessary clean shots.
In the eighth, Indongo continued to walk Burns down, throwing out those strong combos, with very little coming back from Burns. Burns looked uneasy at times and I think he did well to survive that round.
In the ninth, a flurry of shots from Burns had Indongo against the ropes, but he came back with his strong jab and remained light on his feet.
The tenth round showed Burns desperately trying to salvage something from a fight that was in his opponent’s favour throughout. He upped his work rate, getting in closer, but Indongo was still going strong.
Understandably, in the eleventh, both fighters seemed to be tiring and, as they went into the twelfth, a smile of respect from Burns to his opponent had me believing he knew that there was nothing more he could do.
After a long twelve rounds, the score cards came in and a unanimous decision for Julius Indongo was announced. Now the WBA Champion and the IBF and IBO holder, he told Sky Sports “I feel very proud”. Hopefully, Indongo will have the recognition he deserves now, after such an amazing display of skill and endurance.
“The better man won…he was a lot better than we thought he was going to be.” Burns said after the fight. The height and reach advantage that Indongo had was just too much for Burns to contend with and he was unable to get in close enough to really take the lead in any round.
Some have spoken about Burns as if he has already retired, but there is still some fight left in the man from Coatbridge yet. He added, “I’ll come again.” Personally, I am looking forward to watching him recover quickly from this unexpected defeat and move on to his next fight.
RESULTS FROM GLASGOW
|2017-04-15, The SSE Hydro, Glasgow|
|Ricky Burns||L||UD||12/12||Julius Indongo|
|Scott Cardle||L||MD||12/12||Robbie Barrett|
|Joe Ham||W||PTS||10/10||Scott McCormack|
|Charlie Flynn||D||TD||3/10||Ryan Collins|
|Josh Kelly||W||PTS||6/6||Jay Byrne|
|Charlie Edwards||W||UD||12/12||Iain Butcher|
|Lawrence Okolie||W||TCO||1/4||Lukasz Rusiewicz|
|Lewis Paulin||W||TCO||4/4||Luke Fash|
|Ally Black||W||TCO||1/4||Mark Weston|