Idongo set for unification bout vs. Crawford

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Unified junior welterweight world titleholder Julius Indongo fought the first 20 bouts of his boxing career in his native Namibia but has all of a sudden become a road warrior, and he isn’t about to let up.

Indongo’s first road trip came in December, when he traveled to Moscow and spectacularly knocked out hometown hero Eduard Troyanovsky in the first round to win a 140-pound world title. Then he traveled to Ricky Burn’s hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, and easily outpointed him to unify two belts on April 15.

Now Indongo is aiming to collect even more hardware on another road trip as he goes after the other two belts in the division against unified world champion Terence Crawford on Aug. 19 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, a short drive from Crawford’s hometown of Omaha.

The card will air live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and stream live on the ESPN app beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

“Me and my team went to New York City — a trip of 20 hours from Namibia — to watch Terence Crawford against Felix Diaz [on May 20],” Indongo said as the promotion for the recently finalized fight with Crawford kicked off this week. “I will tell you this — Crawford is a real champion. He had a big impressive win over Diaz. Crawford showed me real character in that fight.

“On Aug. 19, Crawford’s skill and power will bring out the best of me. I am ready and prepared to face him.”

Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, Indongo’s co-promoter, said Indongo, who was a 2008 Olympian, could have taken other fights but wanted the chance to unify the division even if it meant another fight in his opponent’s backyard.

“I’m delighted to get this fight over the line and help create one champion in the 140-pound division,” Hearn said. “There were plenty of offers for Julius but this was always the fight he wanted — the chance to become the undisputed champion. He has had back-to-back hugely impressive wins on the road and although he faces one of the pound-for-pound top fighters in world boxing, Julius is full of confidence ahead of this important fight for the sport.”

Crawford-Indongo will be only the fourth fight of the four-belt era in which all four major titles will be on the line in the same bout, and the winner will walk away as the undefeated, undisputed No. 1 fighter at 140 pounds. Then-middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins was involved in the previous three — when he put his three belts up against Oscar De La Hoya’s one and knocked him out to unify the 160-pound division in 2004, and twice in 2005, when he retained the four belts by outpointing Howard Eastman and then lost them by decision in his first fight with Jermain Taylor.

Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs), 29, the 2014 fighter of the year and the former lightweight world champion before moving up in weight in 2015, will be making his sixth title defense. He has taken notice of Indongo (22-0, 11 KOs), 34, who sat ringside for his one-sided 10th-round knockout of Diaz on a scouting mission as well as to talk with Crawford’s team about making the fight.

“Julius Indongo is a champion with a lot of confidence right now being that he went over to Russia and took the title from Eduard Troyanovsky and then went to Scotland and took Ricky Burns’ title,” said Crawford, who has also outpointed Burns, doing so in 2014 to win a lightweight world title. “Now he’s coming to the U.S. to challenge me. He’s a bigger threat now than at any other time because he has all the confidence in the world. A lot of people are going to see me fight on ESPN and I’m excited to perform for them.”

Said Brian McIntyre, Crawford’s trainer and co-manager: “I’m ready for Terence to solidify his name into boxing history and for me to show the world what I can do as his head trainer.”

In the co-feature, fast-rising light heavyweight contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk (13-0, 11 KOs), 30, a 2012 Ukrainian Olympic bronze medalist, will take on Craig Baker (17-1, 13 KOs), 33, of Baytown, Texas, in a scheduled 10-round fight.

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