Paradoxical to the predictions and expectations of many, Namibia’s newly crowned triple world champion Julius ‘Blue Machine’ Indongo might not face American boxing sensation Terence Crawford in his next world championship bout, as the 34-year-old Namibian has been mandated by the IBF to fight Russia’s Sergey Lipinets.
After Indongo’s resounding victory against Scotsman Ricky Burns on Saturday, the international boxing fraternity was on fire with talks immediately centered around a possible unification fight between Indongo, who holds the WBA, IBF and IBO world titles, and America’s Crawford, who holds the WBC and WBO belts.
Should an Indongo vs Crawford unification fight ever take place, it will be one of the biggest battles in boxing history as the eventual winner of that bout will become the undisputed world champion, holding the world’s four major titles – WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF.
But with recent developments that fight somewhat appears to be a dream far-fetched after the International Boxing Federation (IBF) this week made it crystal clear that Indongo must make a mandatory defence against Russian contender Sergey Lipinets.
Not just by popular demand but when viewed from an economical standpoint, a fight against Crawford would have been the biggest monetary fight for Indongo, but unfortunately the IBF does not allow step-aside deals and a unification match with Crawford or any other voluntary defence will not be sanctioned by the organisation until Indongo satisfies the mandatory defence order.
In fact, the IBF have put it clearly in black and white that Indongo will have to face Lipinets or vacate his IBF world title. If he does vacate, then Lipinets will fight for the vacant IBF title against the highest ranked available contender who accepts the opportunity.
Approached to shed light on the latest development, Namibia’s leading boxing promoter Nestor Tobias, who is also Indongo’s handler, confirmed that the IBF have notified them about a mandatory defence against Russia’s Lipinets but said they are yet to respond to the notice as they are busy behind the scene pondering their options and putting their house in order.
“We are aware of the mandatory defence notice from the IBF but we are the title holders, so we also have a say in this and in due course I will communicate our position on the matter and subsequently Indongo’s next opponent. So the nation must stay put for now as we will definitely communicate the way forward for our champion,” said Tobias.
An IBF statement carried by international boxing website Boxingscene.com, reads as follows: “Indongo is obligated to hold his next fight against Lipinets. Both parties were notified to start negotiations, and then everything will depend on the promotional process, which may take 3 to 4 or even 5 months. Also, we do not exclude the possibility of a purse bid. Indongo will not be able to hold a unification bout, he has a mandatory and was ordered to carry out a mandatory defence. As for Crawford, he has a fight against Olympic gold medal winner Felix Diaz on May 20th in New York City.”