By Jake Donovan
There was nearly a fight a day before the big fight, but Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford and Julius Indongo managed to survive Friday’s weigh-in session without any blood shed or scale issues.
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
The pair of unbeaten super lightweight titlists made weight for their highly anticipated unification clash, which goes down Saturday live on ESPN from Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Crawford—who hails from relatively nearby Omaha—came in right at the 140-pound divisional limit, while Indongo weighed 139 lbs. for his third straight road title fight and his first in the United States.
An intense stare down came of their post weigh-in photo opp, followed by some brief shoving and jawing before the boxers were separated by Top Rank VP of Operations Carl Moretti.
Hopefully as much drama can be found in their main event, a rare occasion where all four major belts (WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO) will be at stake.
Crawford is the recognized lineal super lightweight champion by virtue of his 12-round whitewash of Viktor Postol last July. Still, belts seem to matter to most in the fight game, and all of the major hardware at stake will end any dispute as to who’s the man at 140 pounds.
At least through Saturday evening.
While he made weight on the first try, Crawford (31-0, 22KOs) was bone dry on the scale in a scene reminiscent of his eventual 12-round win over Raymundo Beltran in Nov. ’14. That bout turned out to be his last at lightweight after establishing himself as the World (lineal) champion, moving up to the 140-pound division where he has collected two belts as he enters his sixth title defense of at least one strap at this weight.
Win, lose or draw, it will likely be his last as a move to the more lucrative welterweight division is likely in his future.
Indongo (22-0, 11KOs) appeared fine at the scales and—despite his massively long frame—figures to hang around for a while at super lightweight.
Having previously fought exclusively in Namibia, the 34-year old southpaw came up aces in his first title fight, scoring a stunning one-punch 1st round knockout of Eduard Troyanovsky last December. He followed up the feat with a 12-round over Ricky Burns in their unification battle this past April his opponent’s hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.
The win came some three years after Crawford won his first title over Burns in Scotland, scoring a 12-round win to earn a lightweight strap in their March ’14 clash. He has since fought four times in Omaha and will headline his fifth Nebraska-based title fight in Saturday’s clash. The event takes place less than an hour from his hometown, marking the third straight time Indongo enters hostile territory in a world title fight.
In the televised co-feature, Oleksandr Gvozdyk (13-0, 11KOs) takes on a stay-busy affair while in pursuit of a light heavyweight title. The unbeaten top-rated contender faces Craig Baker in a scheduled 10-round battle that figures to end much earlier.
Gvozdyk weighed 174.4 lbs. for his second fight of 2017, this one coming on the heels of a crushing 3rd round stoppage of durable contender Yunieski Gonzalez this past April in a bout that marked his HBO debut.
Baker weighed 174.6 lbs. for his first fight since June ’16, although the 14-month layoff at least trails a career-best win as he scored an upset knockout of Steve Lovett in his last ring appearance. His lone loss came versus former Top 10 contender Edwin Rodriguez, suffering a 3rd round knockout in their May ’15 clash which aired on NBC.
In undercard action, Shakur Stevenson (2-0 1KOs), 126.2 lbs. faces David Michel Paz, 125.6 lbs., in a scheduled six-round battle.
The event marks the ESPN-televised debut for the 20-year old Stevenson, who captured a Silver medal for the 2016 U.S. Olympic boxing team during their run in Rio last summer. The feat was the best run by a U.S. Olympic male boxer since Andre Ward (who serves along with James Prince as Stevenson’s co-manager and whom will also serve on the ESPN telecast as a ringside analyst) captured a Gold medal in the 2004 Athens Games.
On the non-televised undercard (which will stream live on TopRank.tv and ESPN3.com), heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte makes his U.S. debut in a scheduled eight-round battle with club fighter Malcolm Tann. The once-beaten Brit tipped the scales at a career heaviest 260 pounds, while Tann checked in at 238 lbs.
Also in heavyweight action, two-time title challenger Bryant Jennings returns for the first time since his Dec. ’15 knockout loss to Luis Ortiz. The Philly-bred boxer—now signed with Top Rank with the intention of one day challenging unbeaten titlist Joseph Parker—weighed a ripped and ready 230.8 lbs. as he faces Daniel Martz, who registered at 255.4 lbs.
Former super lightweight interim titlist Mike Alvarado continues his (ill-advised?) comeback as the Denver-area boxer faces Sydney Siqueira in a scheduled eight-round welterweight scrap. Alvarado checked in at a career-high 148 lbs, while Siqueira weighed 145.4 lbs.
Terence Crawford, 140 lbs. vs. Julius Indongo, 139 lbs.—12 rds, super lightweight
Oleksandr Gvozdyk, 174.4 lbs. vs. Craig Baker, 174.6 lbs.—10 rds, light heavyweight
Shakur Stevenson, 126.2 lbs. vs. David Michel Paz, 125.6 lbs.—6 rds, featherweight
Michael Reed, 141 lbs. vs. Robert Frankel, 139 lbs.—10 rds, super lightweight
Mike Alvarado, 148 lbs. vs. Sydney Siqueira, 145.4 lbs.—8 rds, welterweight
Bryant Jennings, 230.8 lbs. vs. Daniel Martz, 255.4 lbs.—8 rds, heavyweight
Dillan Whyte, 260 lbs. vs. Malcolm Tann, 238 lbs.—8 rds, heavyweight
Kevin Ventura, 133.2 lbs. vs. Baltazar Ramirez, 133 lbs.—6 rds, super featherweight
Steve Nelson, 175 lbs. vs. Cesar Ruiz, 175 lbs.—6 rds, light heavyweight