THREE PUNCH COMBO — On the undercard of Gassiev-Lebedev (more about that later) Julius Indongo scored a stunning upset with a one punch knockout of Eduard Troyanovsky less than one minute into their 12-round super lightweight title fight on Saturday. With one looping left hand, Indongo announced his presence in an emphatic manner and is now in line for some much bigger fights in the near future.
Indongo was very lightly regarded and relatively unknown going into his title opportunity on Saturday. Though undefeated at 20-0 entering the contest, Indongo had beaten nobody of note in his seven years as a pro or for that matter ever fought outside of his native Namibia. He is a tall southpaw and noted as a slick defensive fighter with little power. The prevailing thought was that although his style could possibly give Troyanovsky trouble, Troyanovsky’s power and pressure would ultimately be too much for him. But one looping left hand from Indongo with surprising power sent the prevailing thought going into this bout out the door.
Indongo is a very intriguing new player at super lightweight. As stated earlier, he is a tall southpaw and possesses an awkward style that could pose problems for the top fighters in the division. He does have an amateur background, having represented Namibia in the 2008 Olympics and has shown a decent skill set. He works well behind the jab and knows how to use the ring with his quick feet. The big question surrounding Indongo is his chin and obviously we did not learn anything about the chin in the Troyanovsky bout.
One opponent who may be interested in facing Indongo is Ruslan Provodnikov. Provodnikov was ringside Saturday night and may see this as an opportunity to not only win a belt but jump right back into contention for bigger fights at super lightweight. It would be a very interesting matchup of contrasting styles and an important crossroads fight in both their respective careers with the winner set to be in line for much bigger fights down the line.
With one punch, Julius Indongo announced his arrival as a player at super lightweight. He is a fighter to keep an eye on and we will no doubt be seeing him in bigger fights in the not so distant future.
Menard-Beltran and Lipinets-Zappavigna
There is a lot of boxing action this coming weekend. With all the big fights, it was inevitable that some other fights may not be getting the attention they deserve. The co-feature on the Terence Crawford-John Molina card features Mason Menard taking a big step up in class when he faces Raymundo Beltran, a former title contender. The Jermall Charlo-Julian Williams undercard features another prospect in Sergey Lipinets who is also taking a step up in competition when he faces Leonardo Zappavigna for a top ranking in the IBF at super lightweight. These are two fights not to miss this busy upcoming weekend.
Mason Menard is an exciting prospect who has enjoyed a breakout year. With spectacular televised knockout wins of Eudy Bernardo and Bahodir Mamadjonov, Menard has created a lot of buzz. Beltran is a solid experienced fighter who will no doubt test Menard. Beltran is a boxer-puncher who has shown a willingness to exchange with his opponents. This fight will in all likelihood steal the show in Omaha.
Much like Mason Menard, super lightweight Sergey Lipinets has created some buzz for himself in 2016 with a pair of knockout wins against tough veterans. Lipinets is a heavy handed, high pressure fighter who makes for entertaining fights. His defense needs to be tuned-up some, but his vulnerability in this area makes him exciting to watch. His opponent, Leonardo Zappavigna, is himself an aggressive fighter who likes to mix it up. Defensively challenged, he is more than willing to absorb punches to get in his own shots. This fight has “brawl” written all over it and should be a high contact exciting fight to watch. There is an excellent chance we see a late contender for Fight of the Year.
Golden Age of Cruiserweights
The cruiserweight division in boxing has historically been one of the sport’s weaker divisions. Cruiserweight falls in between two more lucrative divisions in light heavyweight and heavyweight. Thus, the division was often used as a quick stepping stone or simply ignored by top fighters who could have fought as cruiserweights.
However, the sport is changing. Heavyweights are getting bigger and bigger. In the past, the difference in weight between fighting as a cruiserweight and heavyweight was inconsequential. A 190 pound cruiserweight could put on a few pounds and compete with 220 pound heavyweights. Now with heavyweights often topping 250 pounds, the weight disparity is much greater and is encouraging more fighters to compete at cruiserweight with fighters their own size.
With more top fighters willing to compete at cruiserweight, the division is seeing talent and depth that is hasn’t seen since the days of Evander Holyfield. Cruiserweight is now easily one of the five strongest divisions and seemingly getting stronger year after year. The list of talented fighters is growing and we are starting to see some tantalizing good fights taking place.
This past year, we saw the emergence of Oleksandr Usyk at cruiserweight. Usyk is a special talent who possesses rarely seen skills in this sport. On Saturday, Murat Gassiev announced his arrival as an elite fighter by defeating Denis Lebedev by split decision in a tremendous fight. Gassiev is a power punching pressure fighter and a future match with Usyk would be one of the most anticipated fights in boxing.
The division possesses some serious depth at the moment which will only lead to more very good fights down the road. Former long-time champion Marco Huck is still fighting at a high level. Also, former belt holders Lebedev and Krzysztof Glowacki are high-level fighters who can make for some interesting matches. Undefeated power punchers Mairis Briedis and Yunier Dorticus are garnering attention from hardcore fans and may soon find themselves in some big fights. Veterans Steve Cunningham, Maksim Vlasov, and Beibut Shumenov are still viable contenders who can make for some interesting matchups.
The cruiserweight division can no longer be considered a wasteland. The division is flush with talent and depth. In 2016, we saw some very good fights at cruiserweight as well as the possible emergence of a superstar in Usyk. The division should produce some excellent fights for years to come.
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