The War Report: Blue Train (Week 15, 2017)

Julius Indongo (left) and Ricky Burns | Photo credit: Reuters

Underdog stories are abundant in all sports, but the one’s in boxing have a more endearing quality to them. Maybe because it’s focused on an individual’s performance which, more often than not, have political influences outside the ring that hinder the underdog’s chances even more. While that may seem unfortunate and unfair, it’s the reality of the capitalistic landscape that is often described as corrupt. This past Saturday night in Glasgow, Scotland, Julius “Blue Machine” Indongo continued his narrative of being boxing’s latest underdog, and after beating the odds a second time in a row, holds the unified WBA and IBF junior welterweight titles.

Fighting out of Windhoek, Namibia, Indongo (22–0, 11 KOs) eagerly made his way to the ring at the SSE Hydro, and when his name was introduced, the 34-year old still couldn’t wipe that smile off his face. He had already won in a sense. Five months ago, Indongo got himself in this situation with a shocking one-punch knockout of Eduard Troyanovsky in Moscow, Russia to win the IBF strap, and not only did his left hand produce a late candidate for KO of the year in 2016, but the shot injected opportunity into a career that could’ve easily gone astray. Deferring from a hometown defense in his first attempt — a move so often justified in the sport — Indongo kept his ball rolling with a unification bout against Ricky Burns, and little did the Scottish great know what exactly he got himself into.

In fact, not many knew what Indongo was all about. The forty seconds of footage from that first round knockout of Troyanovsky was really all anybody had to put together a scouting report of the southpaw. Once the fight began, Indongo wasted no time in showcasing the length he had through his jab, and his follow-up left hand kept Burns wary to engage. Indongo didn’t let Burns get in any sort of rhythm with his constant attack, and for much of the first half, the “Rickster” circled the ring while getting stalked by the fearless Namibian.

Burns, 34, was always limited in terms of talent, but his heart willed him to an above average career that has been adored by a consistent fan base. They tried to rally their Scot on with cheers once the fight started looking like a blowout, and when Burns finally decided to try and trade with Indongo amidst those cries, he got the raw deal out of just about every exchange. Burns just couldn’t close the gap, and it was simply utter domination from Indongo, who had a cracking left hand that could seemingly find any target. No matter what the egregious 116–112 scorecard suggested, the 18–110 and 120–108 scores were a legit portrayal of Indongo’s unanimous decision victory to capture the unified titles.

A former title holder in three different weight classes, Burns (41–6–1, 14 KOs) has had more than one convenient decision go his way in Scotland, but he conceded to Indongo’s authority afterward, and proclaimed the better man won without any shame. “He was a lot better than what we thought he was going to be,” he also admitted afterward.

“I feel very proud,” said Indongo immediately after the decision was read. He even recommended his hometown have a day off to commemorate his accomplishment. “This is so amazing,” he continued in english. “It’s for the whole of Africa. This is so great. I am very proud for opening my doors and now the world can see me.”

From Namibia, to Russia, to Scotland, the “Blue Machine” may be on track to the Western Hemisphere and into the United States — a dream of just about every fighter outside of it — no less, one from a place the average American couldn’t point out on a map. Indongo joins Terence Crawford (WBC/WBO unified title holder) as the sole controllers of the junior welterweight title quartet of recognized belts, and the Blue Train Indongo is riding in on could find itself in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Indongo will be an even bigger underdog against Crawford should that fight be made to unify the entire division, but the Namibian will be smiling because he’s already won.

KOs of the Week

Dmitry Bivol TKO4 Samuel Clarkson (175) | April 14 — Oxon Hill, Maryland

Charles Huerta KO3 Ivan Delgado (135) | April 14 — Los Angeles, California

Masayuki Ito TKO9 Lorenzo Villanueva (130) | April 13 — Tokyo, Japan

Fighter of the Week

Julius Indongo (22–0, 11 KOs)

Photo credit: Rueters


From this past week

World title bouts

Julius Indongo UD12 Ricky Burns (WBA/IBF 140 unification) | 120–108, 118–110, 116–112 | Indongo becomes the unified WBA and IBF junior welterweight title holder


In order of weight class

Cassius Chaney UD6 Juan Goode (200+) | 59–55, 59–55, 59–55

Hasim Rahman Jr. (pro debut) TKO1 Ralph Alexander (200+)

Sullivan Barrera TKO5 Paul Parker (175)

Dmitry Bivol TKO4 Samuel Clarkson (175)

Vaughn Alexander UD10 Andres Calixto (160) | 99–90, 99–90, 100–89

Zakaria Attou SD12 Maxime Beaussire (154) | 116–113, 115–113, 113–115

Jonathan Navarro KO5 Joan Jose Valenzuela (154)

Malik Hawkins RTD2 Carlos Soto (147)

Robbie Barrett MD10 Scott Cardle (135) | 115–113, 114–112, 114–114

Manny Robles Jr. UD6 Jose Antonio Martinez (130) | 60–54, 60–54, 59–55

Masayuki Ito TKO9 Lorenzo Villanueva (130)

Glenn Dezurn UD10 Leroy Davila (122) | 78–74, 78–74, 78–74

Charlie Edwards UD12 Iain Butcher (115) | 120–108, 120–109, 120–108

Imminent Conflicts

This week’s boxing schedule (click on city for that event’s BoxRec)

Television (U.S.)

Thursday, April 20th

ESPN2 (11:00 PM ET / 8 PT) | Turning Stone Resort & Casino — Verona, New York

Michael Perez vs. Marcelino Lopez (140)

Rashidi Ellis vs. John Karl Sosa (147)

Friday, April 21st

UniMas (11:00 PM ET / 8 PT) | Osceola Heritage Park — Kissimmee, Florida

Christopher Diaz vs. Jose Estrella (126)

Jean Carlos Rivera vs. Jesus Pacheco (126)

Teofimo Lopez Jr. vs. TBA (135)

Saturday, April 22nd

Showtime Extreme (7:00 PM ET / 4 PT) | Barclays Center — Brooklyn, New York

Amanda Serrano vs. Dahiana Santana (WBO 118)

Jonathan Alonso vs. Jose Miguel Borrego (140)

Showtime (9:00 PM ET / 6 PT) | Barclays Center — Brooklyn, New York

Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter (147)

Jermell Charlo vs. Charles Hatley (WBC 154)

Top Rank pay-per-view (9:00 PM ET / 6 PT) | Stub Hub Center — Carson, California

Oscar Valdez vs. Miguel Marriaga (WBO 126)

Gilberto Ramirez vs. Max Bursak (WBO 168)

Jessie Magdaleno vs. Adeilson Dos Santos (WBO 122)

Shakur Stevenson vs. Edgar Brito (126)


In order of weight class

Thursday, April 20th

Vyacheslav Shabranskyy vs. TBA (175) | Verona, New York

Eddie Gomez vs. Dennis Dauti (147) | Verona, New York

Friday, April 21st

Jorge Sebastian Heiland vs. Mateo Damian Veron (168) | Buenos Aires, Argentina

Jon Fernandez vs. Ismael Garcia (130) | Bilbao, Spain

Billel Dib vs. Yuandale Evans (130) | Miami, Oklahoma

Jeyvier Cintron (pro debut) vs. TBA (118) | Kissimmee, Florida

Testuya Hisada vs. Kenichi Horikawa (108) | Osaka, Japan

Saturday, April 22nd

Krzysztof Zimnoch vs. Michael Grant (200+) | Legionowo, Poland

Johann Duhaupas vs. David Gogishvili (200+) | Pori, Finland

Tom Shwarz vs. Adnan Redzovic (200+) | Erfurt, Germany

Daniel Dubois vs. Blaise Mendouo (200+) | Leicester, England

Robin Krasniqi vs. Arthur Abraham (168) | Erfurt, Germany

Rocky Fielding vs. John Ryder (168) | Liverpool, England

Tommy Langford vs. Avtandil Khurtsidze (160) | Leicester, England

Martin Murray vs. Gabriel Rosado (160) | Liverpool, England

Sam Soliman vs. Balazs Horvath (160) | Flemington, Australia

Alexander Besputin vs. Breidis Prescott (147) | Carson, California

Francisco Santana vs. Mahonry Montes (147) | Carson, California

Richardson Hitchens vs. Alexander Picot (147) | Brooklyn, New York

Tyrone Nurse vs. Joe Hughes (140) | Leicester, England

Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (pro debut) vs. Victor Vazquez (135) | Carson, California

Alessandro Riguccini vs. Jesus Antonio Rios (135) | Rosarito, Mexico

Zolani Tete vs. Arthur Villanueva (118) | Leicester, England

Sunday, April 23rd

Kevin Lerena vs. Sergio Ramirez (200) | Kempton Park, South Africa

Shota Hayashi vs. Kosuke Saka (126) | Kariya, Japan

Marlon Tapales vs. Shohei Omori (WBO 118) | Osaka, Japan

Kazuto Ioka vs. Noknoi CP Freshmart (WBA 112) | Osaka, Japan