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Ricky Burns fights Julius Indongo on April 15

By Scott Gilfoid: As I already predicted, WBA World light welterweight champion Ricky Burns will be fighting a unification match against IBF 140lb champion Julius Indongo on April 15 at the SSE Hydro, in Glasgow, Scotland. The news was officially announced today, but it’s been widely known for weeks that this would be the next fight for the 33-year-old Burns.

While some boxing fans are jumping up and down with glee that Burns is facing a talented fighter in Indongo (21-0, 11 KOs), I’m not that excited. Indongo’s 1st round knockout win over former IBF light welterweight champion Eduard Troyanovsky last month on December 3, it wasn’t an indication of the actual talent level of Indongo.

It was more of a case of it showing the lack of talent of Troyanovsky as a fighter, because it was clear to me from day one that the Russian fighter wouldn’t last long as the IBF champion.

The fact that Burns and his promoter Eddie Hearn really wanted the fight Indongo fight tells you all you need to know about the talent level of the fighter from Namibia. If Indongo was the real thing, I don’t think for a second Hearn would make that fight for Burns. It would be a lot of feet dragging like we’re seeing with Hearn’s fighter IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook in him being ordered to fight Errol Spence Jr. Hearn does not seem to be chomping at the bit to make the fight between Brook and Spence like he’d done in the past when the IBF ranked Kevin Bizier and Jo Jo Dan at No.1.

Indongo looks very, very flawed to me, and nothing like a fighter with a 21-0 record. Indongo had major problems beating journeyman Kaizer Mabuza (26-15-3, 16 Kos) in 2014 and Inbrahim Class (15-4, 5 Kos) in 2015. Did Indongo just have off nights when he fought Mabuza or Class or is he simply a guy with limited talent? I think Indongo would not be a champion today if he had to fight Barthelemy, Crawford or Viktor Postol for the IBF title instead of the beatable Troyanovsky.

It’s impossible to know how good Indongo is from his last fight against Troyanovsky, because the match was over so quickly. Indongo landed a single left hand to the head of Troyanonvksy that knocked him out. From my perspective, Indongo has looked very average in the fights that I’ve seen from him against other guys like Kaizer Mabuza and Ibrahim Class.

Indongo was sloppy, easy to hit, and not the knockout artist that some boxing fans think he is. With a knockout percentage of 52, Indongo is not a knockout artist. I mean, Indongo can hurt you if he lands his left hand square, but he rarely lands his left hand flush like he did against Troyanovsky. Indongo often misses with his left, or when he does land it, he’s too close to his opponent and fails to get maximum power on the shot.

Sky pundit Paulie Malignaggi sees the Burns-Inongo fight as a good way for Burns to picks up another title, and then uses the additional belt as a lure to get Adrien Broner to fight him. I don’t think it’s necessary for Burns to have the IBF title in his possession for him to get the Broner fight.

I don’t see Broner as having a lot of good options for fights in the 140lb division. Burns is one of the few, and he’s going to get the Broner fight regardless. The guy that won’t get a fight against Broner is Terence Crawford, and that’s the fight that the boxing world wants to see. Broner vs. Burns is smalltime compared to Broner-Crawford.

Unfortunately, the fans will likely never see that fight take place due to Broner being with Al Haymon and Crawford being with Top Rank. Bob Arum of Top Rank would likely make the fight between Crawford and Broner in a second if it was available to him, but I don’t think Haymon will make that fight. It’s not a good match-up for Broner.

Malignaggi said this to about Burns vs. Indongo leading to a Broner fight for the Scottish fighter:

“If Burns gets the two belts by beating Indongo, it makes it a lot easier to get bigger names,” said Malignaggi. “I’m sure Adrien Broner would jump at the opportunity to pick up two belts in one night and I think a lot of big names would take that opportunity.”

Like I said, Burns doesn’t need Indongo’s IBF title in order for him to get the fight against the 27-year-old Broner (32-2, 24 KOs). He’ll get the fight anyway. Heck, Burns would get a fight against Broner even if he had no titles. There are a lot of guys that Broner can’t or likely won’t ever agree to fight for one reason or another, but Burns isn’t one of them. He’s perfect for Broner. Burns is 33, clearly past his best, and has no punching power to speak of.

You can argue that the only reason that Burns is a world champion right now instead of one of the many contenders in the division is due to the World Boxing Association letting him fight Michele Di Rocco for their vacant WBA light welterweight title last year in 2016 rather than one of the talented 140lb contenders in the division. The WBA ranked Di Rocco at No.1. Even if I had just started watching boxing, I would have seen immediately from watching some of Di Rocco’s past fights that the guy had no business being ranked #1 by the WBA.

The move by the WBA to rank Di Rocco as their top contender made it EASY for Burns to win the vacant WBA title. Without that move, I don’t think Burns would have ever won another world title for the remainder of his career. The WBA made a controversial move in putting Di Rocco as their top contender rather than one of the talents in the division like Rances Barthelemy or Frankie Gomez. If Burns had to fight either of those guys instead of Di Rocco, I think he would have been whipped badly.

Likewise, if the WBA had ranked Antonio Orozco or Adrian Granados at No.1, Burns would have lost to both of those guys as well in my opinion. It was just a miracle that the WBA ranked a beatable guy that Burns was capable of defeating. Before Burns won the WBA 140lb strap last May against Di Rocco, he was seen as an over-the-hill fighter from his poor performances against Raymundo Beltran, Terence Crawford, Dejan Zlaticanin, and Omar Figueroa Jr.

I don’t think Burns was necessarily over-the-hill, but rather him finally facing quality opposition after years of fighting mediocre guys to win titles and defend them. Let’s be honest; Burns really didn’t beat any truly good fighters other than Roman Martinez in my view. Before Burns picked up the vacant WBA light welterweight against Di Rocco in 2016, Burns’ best wins were against Roman Martinez, Michael Katsidis, Kevin Mitchell, Paulus Moses, Jose Gonzalez and Andreas Evensen.

The only good fighter of that bunch is Martinez, and even that guy was always flawed. He was whipped badly by Mikey Garcia and Vasyl Lomachenko. I thought Orlando Salido was royally robbed in his two fights against Martinez. The scoring of those fights was just dreadful in my view. Martinez clearly lost to Salido, and he lost badly in the second fight between them. Salido gave Martinez such a pounding, I was surprised the referee didn’t halt the fight, because Martinez taking terrible punishment to the head. Not surprisingly, Martinez looked like a shadow of his former self in his next fight after the second Salido fight when he faces Lomachenko.

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