This is an abridged transcript of an interview that Namibian boxing Champion Julius Indongo conducted in Omaha, Nebraska, this week ahead of his unification fight against America’s Terence Crawford this weekend.
TODD duBOEF: It is going to be an exciting night on Saturday. This will be our third event going live on ESPN and what a way to start with Pacquiao, Lomachenko and now the title unification of Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo. We are going to be in Lincoln, Nebraska this time as Lady Gaga is in Omaha. We are looking forward to Lincoln, as that’s where the Cornhuskers are. This is an incredible thing to be able to do. A lot of time people talk about seeing good fights – guys fight guys that are accomplished – then there’s other guys that want the challenges.
NESTOR TOBIAS: We are really excited. Julius has trained very hard for this fight. He is very focused and very comfortable in Omaha. We spent some time before we came to Omaha training at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club.
JULIUS INDONGO: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I know Crawford is a very good and tough fighter and this is a big event. On Saturday night I will give everything I have and my focus and my game plan and everything is in position. Just waiting for the weigh-in. I try and not say too much before the fight, which is something that I am used to. I prefer to do it in the ring when my opponent is standing in front of me so I can do my work. I have been in boxing for a long time and not many people know me. I believe this is the time for me to show the world that a boxer from Africa from Namibia can beat a guy fighting in his home in front of his people. This is the best way to do it. I am confident in my styles and techniques that I have learned from years ago. On Saturday night it is going to be boxing – I am not sure if there is going to be a knockout but I know I can do that if I have to. I can say now that I have trained hard and my trainer is always there.
TODD duBOEF: I also want to thank the organizations for accommodating this match because there was everyone trying that had fighters that had mandatories working behind the scenes to help put this unification together. We are all appreciative of everybody working together to help bring this match with the participants with all four titles of the organizations. We are very appreciative of them assisting Matchroom and Top Rank.
JULIUS INDONGO: Yes I would like to also thank the organizations and Top Rank and Matchroom for pushing this fight and helping the negotiations to make this fight happen – for making it all possible.
Question: You have two titles now, but what is your view of the possibility of having all four titles?
JULIUS INDONGO: My view of this is that I have not focused much on that since I have been busy in the gym. I have not focused on anything but making sure of my performance on Saturday night. My focus has been in the gym to make sure my game will be the best ever. No one will ever forget about this fight. The organizations were involved in making this fight happen and I appreciate that but I won’t think much about having four titles until the fight is over.
Question: How will it feel walking out of the ring with four belts?
JULIUS INDONGO: It’s going to mean a lot to me – it will mean all of the hard work and determination got that achievement and it will create more opportunity for me. I will travel the world with the four titles. I will take them back to Africa – to my country. I am going to be very, very happy.
Questions: How has your life changed since you won the two titles?
JULIUS INDONGO: The thing that has really changed is – I do still live in my town in Namibia – and I try to stay focused and try to do the right thing in the public. When someone becomes known to the whole country, most importantly I try not to roll with the wrong friends. I try and stay home and go to church after work and I do my training program twice a day. That’s the only way that I could say it can be done.
Question: Do you live in the same place?
JULIUS INDONGO: Yes, that is where I am staying and where I train. All of the people are very friendly. We don’t have too much of a division within the people of everyone in the country, especially in the city. There is nothing that can distract me wherever I stay or whatever I do – everyone will know in Namibia.
Question: How much better is Crawford than Ricky Burns or Troyanovsky?
JULIUS INDONGO: I cannot really say much on that because when I fought Troyanovsky and Ricky Burns they were both easier fights than I fought in the last fight, that I fought from home. The two world title fights that I challenged in were the best training that I have trained. I had never been as focused with the best game plan so it made it the easiest fights for me. They were both easier than we ever thought they would be because of the focus on them and the game plan.
Question: Why were you able to focus more for those two fights?
JULIUS INDONGO: The other fights were happening at home and we used to be too much like let a lot of people in the camp – we used to share invitations – for the two last fights anyway. The fight was for the championship so there was something that we needed to achieve and change and to improve our image (if we want) to be known in the world. We had to have focus only on me and the potential and that’s the only way the world was going to get to see me. The promotion had known what was happening with me and letting everyone else know. So now everyone was going to see something new again, I know. I have no doubt. I know. All I can say is just only if maybe knockout come it may be late. But waking up, the day of fight, be skilful and focused – everything is in position. The crowd or the fans, or Terence’s home crowd won’t intimidate me – that is nothing, I cannot afford it, so I travel the same way – it is always the same.
Question: Since you won in the hometowns of the last two titles fights how much confidence does that give you?
JULIUS INDONGO: Actually they are different conditions I don’t particularly mind because it is already past. My focus is that it is a blessing from God to keep me and not to let me wander in a sense, and to ask for a provision for myself, my president and my commander in the office that wherever I travel I will be representing all of Namibia. It’s like I have the whole country of Namibia on my shoulders issued by my president so I have to rely on the game plan and that is the confidence that I rely. So if I am stepping there I know that my country and Africa is on my shoulders and when the team travels from Namibia to the fight I can only focus on the fight so it motivated me a lot. So I have to focus only on this fight.
Question: Where did you train for this fight?
JULIUS INDONGO: When I saw Crawford requested to fight the winner of the fight between me Troyanovsky, which is when I started training for this fight because we don’t have any power and the only way to rely on the big guns when they are requested for it. So when they gave us the offer we had to go for it so that’s when I started training. I trained at home in Namibia – where I have always been training. (He came to the States early and trained in Freddie Roach’s gym in Hollywood).
Question: Has there been a change in demographic of who is watching the fights?
TODD duBOEF: I don’t think there has been a change in demographic I think the perception of the boxing demographic in the United States has been unfortunately tight-capped – an older demographic. We are looking at these numbers and obviously 18-49 is the number that everybody wants and even with Kurt Warner and the rest of the Hall of Fame going on we went straight up against UFC that night and beat them in both 18-49 and 18-34 which are the most important demos. And I think additionally, for ESPN that week, we were the second highest rated 18-49 program with the Lomachenko broadcast and in fact over 50% of our audience was 18-49 where baseball was about 32%. We think that the story that it is an old sport and old people don’t care about it, which was largely spun out by UFC years ago and I think to a certain point there was some truth to it – older demos were on premium channels – the fact is this is very positive, young, multi-cultural through the roof and we are excited to put this on this broad platform.
Question: Is it easy to focus and do what you need to do in your homeland?
JULIUS INDONGO: I don’t think I have an issue with the fans or the population because it is already something I am aware of. All I have is to train and just be focused on Crawford and my game plan and do good on my preparation.
Question: What do you have to say about this activity – this is your 4th fight in just over a year?
JULIUS INDONGO: It really means a lot not only to me but also to my promotion where I train. When I began they weren’t planning to produce such an event or any opportunity like this or even that matches I had back home. It is something big and something huge and something useful and it is an appreciation for what Top Rank and Matchroom has put together and I appreciate these opportunities.