Julius Indongo's blitz to the 140-pound title scene was so quick that questions remained of whether or not he can box as well as he can punch.
The unbeaten southpaw from Namibia offered an emphatic "Yes!", once again winning big on the road as he dominated Ricky Burns over 12 rounds in their super lightweight title unification bout Saturday evening at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland.
Scores were 120-108, 118-110 and a far too kind 116-112, as Indongo unified the IBF and WBA 140-pound titles with the win.
The bout was never competitive and midway through became a question of whether or not Burns would even be around to hear the final bell. Action was a bit slow out the gate, but Indongo soon settled in and put his height and reach advantage to good use. Age-wise he actually came in as the older fighter by two months, but was made to look a youthful 34, sticking out his long jab and straight left hands and then immediately sliding out of harm's way on the occasions that Burns - who turned 34 on Thursday - threatened with return fire.
Indongo had grown increasingly stronger with each passing frame, including a dominant surge in the final minute of round four where he left Burns to look as if he were stuck in the mud as he dazzled the local favorite with blistering combinations. He added to his lead in round five and raced out the gate in the following round, well aware of his surroundings in not wanting to leave anything to chance.
It wasn't until the 6th round when it could even be considered whether Burns even deserved to win a round (Jose Torres' 116-112 card be damned), but it was certainly his best of the night to that point. He wouldn't have another moment to compare until midway through round nine, where a three-punch combo along the ropes sent the partisan crowd into a frenzy. Indongo remained calm under pressure, immediately seizing control and dialing up the pressure down the stretch.
A strong surge by the visiting titlsit in round 10 included a right hook to the temple that left Burns buzzed, although he somehow managed to remain on his feet. In surviving the final six minutes, the three-division titlist managed to preserve his career-long run of having never been stopped in a prizefight, but not even the most corrupt of judges could save his title reign by that point.
Indongo improves to 22-0 (11KOs) with the win, scoring his second consecutive title victory in hostile territory. The rangy lefthanded boxer burst onto the title scene with a stunning one-punch 1st round knockout of Eduard Troyanovsky last December in Moscow, Russia. He barely batted an eyelash when it came time to accepting terms for a unification clash with Burns, even if it meant fighting in front of a sold-out crowd in his opponent's hometown.
"I’m very happy. It’s a big day for boxing in Namibia," a joyful Indongo humbly stated afterward.
As for Burns, it's likely the end of the road as far as his days go as a champion or even a credible contender. He was in the right place at the right time when a super lightweight belt became available ahead of his clash with Michelle Di Rocco last May, scoring an 8th round knockout to become a three-division titlist, having previously reigned at super featherweight and lightweight.
The latter reign ended with a points loss to unbeaten Terence Crawford in this very arena in March '14. Crawford has since gone on to earn World (lineal) championship status at lightweight and now at super lightweight, as the unbeaten fighting pride of Omaha, Nebraska tuned in as a very interested observer. Many in the boxing world were hesitant in pondering a Crawford-Burns rematch, although that is no longer a concern.
Burns falls to 41-6-1 (14KOs) with the loss. While he didn't exactly offer a retirement speech, he fully conceded the disadvantages to which he couldn't overcome.
"He had a massive height and reach advantage," Burns admitted after the contest. "I just couldn’t get inside. No excuses."
As for whether Crawford will factor into the future, that remains to be seen. He first faces Felix Diaz in an optional title defense on May 20 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Even if he wins and wishes to pursue a full divisional unification clash, Indongo could first be forced into facing mandatory challenger Sergey Lipinets, who doesn't have any intention of stepping aside or waiting any longer than necessary for his shot at the best.
Saturday's bout aired live on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and on A Wealth of Entertainment (AWE) TV in the United States.