By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Top Rank Promotions will continue their relationship with ESPN by broadcasting a junior welterweight unification bout between one of their top stars, Terence Crawford, taking on fellow junior welterweight title holder Julius Indongo. This bout will take place at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Another bout to be televised will be in the light heavyweight division and will be between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Craig Baker. The undercard will feature many familiar names, including Mike Alvarado, Bryant Jennings, Dillian Whyte, Shakur Stevenson, and Nicholas Walters. Don’t be surprised if some of these names make their way to the main broadcast.
The following is a preview of both televised bouts.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk (13-0) vs. Craig Baker (17-1); Light Heavyweights
Oleksandr Gvozdyk is another Ukranian prospect with a high ceiling and a deep amateur background, though he doesn’t have the amateur accolades of fellow Ukranian Vasyl Lomachenko.
Gvozdyk won the bronze medal for the Ukraine in the 2012 Summer Olympics. He also competed in the World Series of Boxing before turning pro and was undefeated there. He’s thirty years old and three years younger than his opponent, Craig baker. Gvozdyk also stands at 6’2” and has a long reach of 76”.
Baker competed in the 2008 US National Amateur Championships and the 2008 National Golden Gloves but did not place. His amateur background pales in comparison to Gvozdyk.
Gvozdyk turned pro in 2014 and already has an impressive list of defeated opponents. He has defeated the likes of Nadjib Mohammedi, Tommy Karpency, Isaac Chilemba, and Yunieski Gonzalez. He’s currently riding a seven fight stoppage streak.
Baker’s only notable victory was against Umberto Savigne. The one time he took a step up in competition he got knocked out by Edwin Rodriguez. Fourteen of his seventeen wins have come against opponents with records of .500 or worse.
Gvozdyk has the edge in speed, defense, amateur background, and even power. Baker has thirteen knockouts in comparison to Gvozdyk’s eleven stoppages, but Baker’s stoppage victories have come against subpar competition.
It’s doubtful this fight will be competitive. Gvozdyk should won handedly.
Terence Crawford (31-0) vs. Julius Indongo (22-0); WBO/WBC/IBF and WBA Junior Welterweight Titles
It’s rare to see all four major world titles up for grabs in one unification bout, but this anomaly will occur on Saturday night and should be applauded.
Both boxers are undefeated but Crawford is the heavy favorite.
Crawford will be giving up about two and a half inches in height and one and a half inches in reach. However, Crawford is five years younger than Indongo and appears to be the quicker boxer with the harder punch.
Crawford has twenty two stoppages on his resume and five of his past six fights resulted in a stoppage victory. Indongo only has eleven stoppage wins, but three of his past four fights resulted in a KO/TKO.
Crawford has been fairly busy recently. He fought once in 2017 and three times in 2016. Indongo has matched his activity and also fought three times in 2016 and once in 2017.
Crawford’s list of defeated opponents shows he is deserving of his pound for pound ranking. He has defeated the likes of Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Henry Lundy, Dierry Jean, Thomas Dulorme, Raymundo Beltran, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ricky Burns, and Andrey Klimov.
Indongo fought mainly in Africa early on in his career and has not faced the level of opposition that Crawford has faced. He has recently defeated the likes of Ricky Burns and Eduard Troyanovsky, but has not defeated any notable opponents before those wins.
The one edge that Indongo might arguably have is amateur experience. He competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics and Crawford failed to make the Olympic team of the United States. However, Crawford is a former National PAL Champion.
Indongo’s height and reach may give Crawford some issues early on. He was able to surprise many when he defeated Eduard Troyanovsky and he had little problems defeating Ricky Burns. However, Terence Crawford is an elite level boxer and he has enough experience to solve the height and reach of Indongo.
Crawford should win by a comfortable decision.