August 19th will be a day to be remembered for boxing. When Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo step into the ring to face each other Saturday night, it will be for all the marbles. They will both be competing to accomplish a feat that is a rarity in this sweet science that we behold. At stake for the two combatants is the opportunity to be called the undisputed Super Lightweight champion of the world.
Although it is arguable whom the last undisputed champion was (O'Neil Bell who held IBF, WBA and WBC Cruiserweight titles or Jermain Taylor who held IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO Middleweight belts), the fact that we have not had an undisputed champion in any of boxing's 17 divisions in over 10 years perhaps points to issues that have contributed to the plight of the popularity of the sport domestically. For a few years, boxing fans were denied the opportunity to see many title unification bouts because of politics between stakeholders (promoters, TV networks, belt organizations) involved. But the sport has seen a reinvigorated spirit this year thanks to highly publicized unification bouts such as Keith Thurman versus Danny Garcia, the rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev and now this fight between Crawford and Indongo.
Terence Crawford will enter the fight as the huge favorite as many boxing pundits have him within their top 5 pound for pound lists. He easily beat what was considered the division's boogey man in Viktor Postol to add the WBC title to the WBA strap he already held. In his most recent outing, he dispatched of the highly avoided Feliz Diaz. The sky is the limit for Crawford, as many expect him to move up to the heralded Welterweight division if he successfully captures the IBF and WBA belts from Indongo. Crawford is so talented that he has made his championship campaigns at Lightweight and Super Lightweight look like a cakewalk, which have left some clamoring for him to make the jump to 147 pounds already. However, becoming a rare undisputed champion is well worth the delay for the man also known as "Bud".
Julius Indongo probably could not have fathomed being in this position just a year ago. He is still relatively unknown in boxing but has been a sensational overnight success story. The champion from Namibia was expected to be an easy victory for Eduard Troyanovsky when they faced each other last year. But Indongo surprised the boxing world by knocking out his opponent in 40 seconds to capture the IBF title. He then went on to show another facet of his game by soundly outboxing former 2-divisision titlist Ricky Burns in his own backyard. Indongo hopes to repeat this feat against Crawford, as the pair will be fighting in Crawford's home state of Nebraska. This bout may be more important for Indongo who has hopes of boosting the sport of boxing back in his home country of Namibia. He is already a success story, but pulling off an upset of this magnitude against Crawford would put his name in the same conversation of the likes of great past African champions such as Ike Quartey, Dick Tiger and Azumah Nelson.
2017 has been great for the sport and this bout only adds to the sensational year that has been. The fight being aired on ESPN can only help in fueling the much-needed boost the sport has seen recently. And hopefully, this is not the last of the major organizations working together and putting aside their awful mandatory defense orders to bring undisputed champions back to this illustrious sport.