WBC & WBO Jr. Welterweight Champion
with Trainer Brian McIntyre and
Top Rank President Todd duBoef /
IBF & WBA Jr. Welterweight Champion
with co-promoter and manager Nestor Tobias
and Matchroom Boxing’s Frank Smith
TODD duBOEF: It is going to be an exciting night on Saturday. This will be our third event going live on ESPN and what a way to start with Pacquiao, Lomachenko and now the title unification of Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo. We are going to be in Lincoln, Nebraska this time as Lady Gaga is in Omaha. We are looking forward to Lincoln, as that’s where the Cornhuskers are. This is an incredible thing to be able to do. A lot of time people talk about seeing good fights – guys fight guys that are accomplished – then there’s other guys that want the challenges. Julius Indongo and his promoter, Matchroom Boxing, have come up in a meteoric rise in the past 18 months and Julius has performed great. Terence Crawford has exploded onto the boxing scene – going to Glasgow, Scotland and winning the lightweight title and coming back to Omaha in his first defense against Gamboa and winning in sensational fashion. This will be Terence’s ninth consecutive world title fight over two weight divisions. It is unique in that is a highly-anticipated unification. Only the second time in the four-belt era that two world champions have fought each other to unify the titles with the winner emerging as the division’s undisputed world champion.
FRANK SMITH: It is great to be here in Omaha with Top Rank and we are really looking forward to this fight – it is great when fighters want to take challenges. Julius has traveled all around the world – going to Russia where he won by first round knockout and then taking on Ricky Burns in Scotland in front of a huge crowd. Julius has been spending the last few days in Omaha – I know he is very calm and very relaxed and really looking forward to the challenge. It’s great to be involved in a fight like this with all the belts on the line, which doesn’t happen very often. I know Julius is very confident to go back home with all of the belts in hand. Terence Crawford is a great fighter and has shown it on many occasions and Julius is very calm and relaxed and looking forward to showing what he does and he has no concerns with the traveling. He’ll go anywhere to take on a challenge.
NESTOR TOBIAS: We are really excited. Julius has trained very hard for this fight. He is very focused and very comfortable in Omaha. We spent some time before we came to Omaha training at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club.
JULIUS INDONGO: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I know Crawford is a very good and tough fighter and this is a big event. On Saturday night I will give everything I have and my focus and my game plan and everything is in position. Just waiting for the weigh-in. I try and not say too much before the fight, which is something that I am used to. I prefer to do it in the ring when my opponent is standing in front of me so I can do my work. I have been in boxing for a long time and not many people know me. I believe this is the time for me to show the world that a boxer from Africa from Namibia can beat a guy fighting in his home in front of his people. This is the best way to do it. I am confident in my styles and techniques that I have learned from years ago. On Saturday night it is going to be boxing – I am not sure if there is going to be a knockout but I know I can do that if I have to. I can say now that I have trained hard and my trainer is always there.
TODD duBOEF: I also want to thank the organizations for accommodating this match because there was everyone trying that had fighters that had mandatories working behind the scenes to help put this unification together. We are all appreciative of everybody working together to help bring this match with the participants with all four titles of the organizations. We are very appreciative of them assisting Matchroom and Top Rank.
JULIUS INDONGO: Yes I would like to also thank the organizations and Top Rank and Matchroom for pushing this fight and helping the negotiations to make this fight happen – for making it all possible.
You have two titles now, but what is your view of the possibility of having all four titles?
JULIUS INDONGO: My view of this is that I have not focused much on that since I have been busy in the gym. I have not focused on anything but making sure of my performance on Saturday night. My focus has been in the gym to make sure my game will be the best ever. No one will ever forget about this fight. The organizations were involved in making this fight happen and I appreciate that but I won’t think much about having four titles until the fight is over.
How will it feel walking out of the ring with four belts?
JULIUS INDONGO: It’s going to mean a lot to me – it will mean all of the hard work and determination got that achievement and it will create more opportunity for me. I will travel the world with the four titles. I will take them back to Africa – to my country. I am going to be very, very happy.
How hard was it to get the organizations to go along with this?
TODD duBOEF: It was very difficult. We had to work hand in hand with Matchroom because obviously Matchroom and Indongo had two belts and Top Rank and Crawford had two belts and there were mandatories and everything that was coming into play. There were people that we had to appeal to and we said, “Hey, this is a rare opportunity that we are able to do this. Let’s try and work together and have a positive solution for the sport of boxing and I think we delicately managed it.
How long do you think the winner will be able to hold onto those titles?
TODD duBOEF: I think we should ask that question to the winner, not before we have a winner. (A), we don’t know who is going to win – Indongo thinks he is going to win and Crawford thinks he is going to win. Then at that point we will have to see what the order is, who has the mandatory, what order of fights and if all of the organizations can get together and if they can great and if they can’t it will be up to the fighter to make the decisions. And up to the promoters. I think it is premature to discuss that right now.
How has your life changed since you won the two titles?
JULIUS INDONGO: The thing that has really changed is – I do still live in my town in Namibia – and I try to stay focused and try do the right thing in the public. When someone becomes known to the whole country, most importantly I try not to roll with the wrong friends. I try and stay home and go to church after work and I do my training program twice a day. That’s the only way that I could say it can be done.
Do you live in the same place?
JULIUS INDONGO: Yes, that is where I am staying and where I train. All of the people are very friendly. We don’t have too much of a division within the people of everyone in the country, especially in the city. There is nothing that can distract me wherever I stay or whatever I do – everyone will know in Namibia.
How much better is Crawford than Ricky Burns or Troyanovsky?
JULIUS INDONGO: I cannot really say much on that because when I fought Troyanovsky and Ricky Burns they were both easier fights than I fought in the last fight, that I fought from home. The two world title fights that I challenged in were the best training that I have trained. I had never been as focused with the best game plan so it made it the easiest fights for me. They were both easier than we ever thought they would be because of the focus on them and the game plan.
Why were you able to focus more for those two fights?
JULIUS INDONGO: The other fights were happening at home and we used to be too much like let a lot of people in the camp – we used to share invitations – for the two last fights anyway. The fight was for the championship so there was something that we needed to achieve and change and to improve our image (if we want) to be known in the world. We had to have focus only on me and the potential and that’s the only way the world was going to get to see me. The promotion had known what was happening with me and letting everyone else know. So now everyone was going to see something new again, I know. I have no doubt. I know. All I can say is just only if maybe knockout come it may be late. But waking up, the day of fight, be skillful and focused – everything is in position. The crowd or the fans, or Terence’s home crowd won’t intimidate me – that is nothing, I cannot afford it, so I travel the same way – it is always the same.
Since you won in the hometowns of the last two titles fights how much confidence does that give you?
JULIUS INDONGO: Actually they are different conditions I don’t particularly mind because it is already past. My focus is that it is a blessing from God to keep me and not to let me wander in a sense, and to ask for a provision for myself, my president and my commander in the office that wherever I travel I will be representing all of Namibia. It’s like I have the whole country of Namibia on my shoulders issued by my president so I have to rely on the game plan and that is the confidence that I rely. So if I am stepping there I know that my country and Africa is on my shoulders and when the team travels from Namibia to the fight I can only focus on the fight so it motivated me a lot. So I have to focus only on this fight.
Where did you train for this fight?
JULIUS INDONGO: When I saw Crawford requested to fight the winner of the fight between me Troyanovsky, which is when I started training for this fight because we don’t have any power and the only way to rely on the big guns when they are requested for it. So when they gave us the offer we had to go for it so that’s when I started training. I trained at home in Namibia – where I have always been training. (He came to the States early and trained in Freddie Roach’s gym in Hollywood).
What have you noticed in the viewership of the fights on ESPN?
TODD duBOEF: One thing I am looking forward to on Saturday is Kurt Warner just finished his [Hall of Fame induction] speech so we won’t have to deal with that on Saturday. This is all part of a long term game plan of making these fighters come alive to the sports fan. Obviously there has been an incredible amount of promotion before the Pacquiao fight and mirrored with an incredible amount of promotion for the Lomachenko fight on August 5th and ESPN will be flipping the switch this weekend, taking the weigh-in live and doing all of the same consistent promotion and this is wonderful for the people that are interested in boxing. Everything has been terrific and to get two of the top guys in front of people that are watching the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball are able to see the highest level of fights is just a positive step for the sport.
Has there been a change in demographic of who is watching the fights?
TODD duBOEF: I don’t think there has been a change in demographic I think the perception of the boxing demographic in the United States has been unfortunately tight-capped – an older demographic. We are looking at these numbers and obviously 18-49 is the number that everybody wants and even with Kurt Warner and the rest of the Hall of Fame going on we went straight up against UFC that night and beat them in both 18-49 and 18-34 which are the most important demos. And I think additionally, for ESPN that week, we were the second highest rated 18-49 program with the Lomachenko broadcast and in fact over 50% of our audience was 18-49 where baseball was about 32%. We think that the story that it is an old sport and old people don’t care about it, which was largely spun out by UFC years ago and I think to a certain point there was some truth to it – older demos were on premium channels – the fact is this is very positive, young, multi-cultural through the roof and we are excited to put this on this broad platform.
Is it easy to focus and do what you need to do in your homeland?
JULIUS INDONGO: I don’t think I have an issue with the fans or the population because it is already something I am aware of. All I have is to train and just be focused on Crawford and my game plan and do good on my preparation.
Indongo has come so far – a year ago no one knew who he was and now he is on this huge platform…
TODD duBOEF: This is not an outlier – this is boxing. This is what happens with boxing. This is no different than Azumah Nelson coming over on 10 days notice and suddenly getting in the ring and making a name for himself in the United States. People can change the tide very quickly in the sport of boxing and that happens because of their performances and we have to recognize that his is a global sport. This is not the Premier League or the NFL or the NBA and we are relatively isolated to a small pool. Indongo is a very talented fighter who has probably worked his whole childhood figuring out how to master a trade. And that’s Julius Indongo and what he did was, the door of opportunity opens and he steps through it, and that is the story of boxing. There are countless stories like that and I think this is not a miraculous one but really goes back to what makes boxing so special. People that take advantage of those opportunities and suddenly a diamond in the rough is discovered.
What do you have to say about this activity – this is your 4th fight in just over a year?
JULIUS INDONGO: It really means a lot not only to me but also to my promotion where I train. When I began they weren’t planning to produce such an event or any opportunity like this or even that matches I had back home. It is something big and something huge and something useful and it is an appreciation for what Top Rank and Matchroom has put together and I appreciate these opportunities.
TODD duBOEF: We have given Terence all of the accolades about how great of a fighter he is, which we all know, but I didn’t know he was an internet sensation now. You have to talk about the Internet sensation! I thought this was the Brian McIntyre internet sensation in the last fight from “Camp Life,” but at the press conference tomorrow you’ve got to show me your McGregor Challenge.
TERENCE CRAWFORD: It means a lot to me being it will be the first time that all four belts will be on the line at one time in the division’s history and it has only been done twice in boxing. I’m just ready for the moment and fight time this weekend.
Prior to Indongo’s 1st round KO in Russia, had your team ever heard of him?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: No, we never heard of Indongo and we never saw him fight other than the fight he had in Russia.
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Well, we wanted the Troyanovsky fight but he decided to go with Indongo so when we heard that he got knocked out, we looked at the replay and looked at the fight – that’s when we first took notice of who Indongo really was.
When he fought Ricky Burns who you are familiar with having beaten for the lightweight title, did you think you could make it happen or was it something Top Rank brought to you?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: We wanted the Ricky Burns fight at 140 as well but they didn’t want to take the fight so they wanted to take the fight with Indongo and perhaps later on in the year we could do the fight between me and Ricky Burns again but Indongo beat Ricky Burns, that’s when we took notice and said well he’s the guy with the other two titles so let’s see if we can make a fight with him and unify.
What do you feel about him traveling anywhere to anyone’s hometown to fight for titles?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: It shows a lot about his character and his confidence and his ability in the ring. Him being a two-time world champion in that short amount of time shows that he has a lot of confidence but at the same time he is a little older so he’s at the end of his career coming along so he doesn’t have a lot of choices for what he wants to do. He can’t wait around.
What do you think of Indongo as a fighter?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Indongo is a good fighter. He is a good boxer – he’s got good legs and he seems like he can punch. He doesn’t let his opponent get on the inside and do a lot of damage to him
TODD duBOEF: Do you find any similarities between him and Postol?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: The only comparison I see is the height. They have two different styles. Postol was more straight up and down. Indongo is a little more elusive. I think Postol was a little more technical. Indongo can get a little wild at times.
Do you think Postol is better than Indongo?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I can’t say that because I haven’t been in the ring with Indongo but I have been in the ring with Postol. You can see from the outside but once you get in the ring with somebody it can be a totally difference look so after the fight I can tell you.
What do you think about fighting on ESPN broadening you fan base?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: It can broaden the fan base it will give more people the opportunity to see who Terence Crawford really is. To display my talent and my skills to more people – I am just ready for Saturday to come so I can show more people who Terence Crawford really is.
BRIAN McINTYRE: I am just ready for us to get out there so Terence can show what he’s been working on in camp. I want him to unify and make history and the 140-pound division. We can also silence all of the critics that have been saying that his resume is not as good as some fighters. Not only me but also the whole entire team is excited. I know he is excited to, to get out there and show ESPN what everybody has been hearing – that he is a great boxer and a damn good puncher and how he can switch from both sides. So I am excited. I’m excited for the kid and I’m excited for his family. I am excited for everybody.
The winner will have all four belts, which is historic. Will that fighter also be considered pound-for-pound champion?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Of course, I think I have been doing a lot in the sport of boxing and I have had my name mentioned in the top three. I will be looking forward to being the top one, or maybe two after this fight. It just depends on how people look at it. In my eyes I think I am top two already, so.
Has it bee frustrating to you that you haven’t gotten credit that you deserve?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I try to not think about that. I can’t worry about what the person thinks about me or says about me. At the end of the day I’m the one that has to go in there and take the punches. A lot of people criticize me for who I am fighting because maybe I am not their favorite fighter or maybe I am doing better than their favorite fighter, or there is a fighter that they want to see me fight and the fight doesn’t happen or it does happen then I beat them. Then they say ‘oh the only reason Terence won was because he is short’ or ‘he won because he was basic’ – there is always going to be an excuse with those types of people.
TODD duBOEF: We are in a sport that gets dissected constantly by people that are haters, people that have agendas and at the end of the day when you have a kid like Terence Crawford who is brilliant in the ring, we just let the people decide what it is. We are going to be sold out in Lincoln, Nebraska and we just did 10,000 people in New York – we are not going to chase the game of people and bloggers and things like that that want to be hating because you will never win that game.
How many will Pinnacle hold?
TODD duBOEF: It is going to hold just over 10,000.
What are your thoughts fighting in Lincoln?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I am excited about it being that it’s our state capital and where the Nebraska football team plays. It is a nice arena and I always wanted to fight in there. They brought me down there to watch a couple of games and I was always imagining it would be a nice arena to fight in. Everyone around there always welcomed me with open arms telling me ‘you need to come fight here, you need to come fight here.’ So I am excited that I was able to make that happen. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Omaha.
TODD duBOEF: Just imagine, between a 45-minute drive you’ve got Lady GaGa in Omaha and Terence Crawford in Lincoln – not a bad entertainment night in a small area. Brian are you going to the fight or Lady GaGa?
BRYAN McINTYRE: Well I am going to go to GaGa as soon as we knock this dude off. I know her personally.
CARL MORETTI: Terence is probably boxing’s most active champion at this moment. His last defense was three months ago against Felix Diaz and he fought in December before that and June before that. So if you look just before he won the lightweight title it may be eight title defenses in 27 months. I don’t think you can find a more active champion that has gotten better in the ring defending his title more than Crawford.
How important is it to be active?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: It is very important. I am trying to get my name out there and trying to get the recognition that I deserve. I’m still young and in my prime.
What does it mean if Terence is able to knock out Indongo on Saturday night.
BRIAN McINTYRE: That would be lovely – to do it in good fashion like that, you can’t ask for nothing better. You know if you look for a knockout it’s not there.
If you win you have all of the belts – would you rather stay there or move up?
I am at 140 now and come Saturday that is my main focus is Julius Indongo. We’ll see how the fight goes and after that double back around and see what the next move will be.
How is it when you have quick turnaround to training camp? Is it easier?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Training camp is never easy. It’s always hard but at the same time, I just had a fight and getting back into the gym and back in the groove of everything. It’s tougher when you have a long period of time off because this time I was somewhat in shape.
It seems like you were having fun in camp. Is that normal?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: We like to have some fun in training camp. Training camp is always hard work but have fun, hard work, have fun, hard work – if you don’t love what you are doing then you need to get a difference job. We are dancing every single training camp that we had and play around – that is the different types of things that we do. In “Camp Life” it might be the first time that people actually got to see that outer Terence Crawford.
Is that important to you to get that out?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: It’s important for my brand but at the same time it is just I. I am not into publicizing my every move – make a video and say ‘oh this is what I do for a living,’ I just go with the flow.
If you consider yourself Number 2 pound for pound, who do you say is Number 1?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Andre Ward.
Where were you when you first saw McGregor do his warm-up?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I was coming from the gym and everyone was watching a video and I asked what it was, then I said I am going to try that. A couple of days passed then I got everyone together to do the McGregor Challenge.
What’s the best response you’ve gotten since that video went up?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I’ve been getting all kinds of response – I have been getting hate response, prejudice response, I’ve been getting a lot of positive response. People are telling me McGregor will beat me up. I just laugh – we are just having fun with it.