If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That is the view of Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn when it comes to unified junior welterweight titlist Julius Indongo.
Indongo easily outpointed Ricky Burns, who is promoted by Hearn, on Saturday in Burns' hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, to unify two of the 140-pound world titles and make himself a serious player in the weight class. Days after Indongo's victory, Hearn announced that he and Nestor Tobias, Indongo's promoter from MTC Nestor Sunshine Promotions, have teamed up and will jointly work on Indongo's next fight.
"I can confirm that we will be working with Matchroom to promote Indongo's next fight," Tobias said Thursday. "We are happy to continue our relationship with Matchroom and maybe beyond. Eddie is a trusted businessman who delivers on his promises and we share the same philosophy.
"There are some huge opportunities out there now for Julius and we feel that with Matchroom working alongside MTC, we can deliver those for him."
If Indongo (22-0, 11 KOs), a 34-year-old southpaw from Namibia, is looking for a bigger fight, it may come at the expense of one of his two belts. He owes a mandatory defense against Kazakhstan's Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10 KOs), and a purse bid is scheduled for April 27.
It would seem unlikely that Indongo and his team would set up that fight so quickly after he just beat Burns, which means he may vacate or be stripped of his IBF title if he declines to either make a deal to face Lipinets or participate in the purse bid process.
Hearn didn't specifically address the title situation, but it seemed clear that they will weigh other options besides Lipinets, who would not bring big money to the table for the fight.
One obvious possibility would be to wait to see what happens in the May 20 title fight between Terence Crawford, who holds the other two titles in the division and carries a high profile, and Felix Diaz. Indongo against Crawford later in the year would make sense.
Indongo could also fight again in the United Kingdom, perhaps against former lightweight titlist Anthony Crolla, a popular draw who is also with Hearn and could consider moving up in weight after losing his belt to Jorge Linares on March 25.
"I think everyone was impressed with Julius [against Burns], and he has now become one of the key players in the division," Hearn said. "I'm happy to link up with the team for his next fight, and we are already in discussions with a number of promoters regarding his next move."
Indongo was entirely unknown in December when he traveled to Eduard Troyanovsky's home country of Russia and stunningly knocked him out in the first round to claim a 140-pound belt, which he put on the line for the first time in the unification fight with Burns.