Ilunga Makabu Grabs Split Decision Win Over Thabiso Mchunu
By: Hans Themistode
Ilunga Makabu was initially taken aback when it was revealed that current super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez would challenge him for his WBC cruiserweight crown.
Although it was unexpected, Makabu welcomed a possible showdown against the pound-for-pound star with opened arms. However, before Makabu could officially entertain their high-stakes bout, Makabu first needed to take care of business against Thabiso Mchunu.
Seven years prior, Makabu emphatically stopped Mchunu in the penultimate round. This time, nonetheless, Makabu found his foe much more durable.
In front of a fairly sparse crowd at the Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio, Makabu strutted to the ring confidently. Though the two touched gloves before letting their hands fly, there was absolutely no love lost once the opening bell rang.
In the opening frame, Makabu attempted to take the center of the ring. He swung massive right hands that more times than not, hit nothing but air. Mchunu remained on the back foot and patiently waited for his man to make mistakes. His patience would pay off in the second, as Mchunu landed a stinging right hand in the period that forced Makabu to take a step back.
Despite getting visibly stunned, Makabu gathered himself and began moving forward. He continually attempted to cut off the ring to force Mchunu to exchange heavy leather. Still, regardless of his aggressive game plan, Mchunu refused to engage in a firefight. With his world title opportunity standing directly in front of him, Mchunu began working the body of the champion in an effort to slow him down.
Mchunu’s persistent attack to the midsection began paying off during the midway point of the sixth period. Though Makabu continued to come forward, his movement became visibly labored.
As the action began slowing to a crawl, Mchunu picked up his aggression at the tail of their bout. While he appeared to be the fresher fighter, his bid to become a world champion ended without his hand raised.
Although Nathan Palmer ultimately scored the bout in favor of Mchunu, 115-113, he was overruled by Jamie Garayua who had it 116-112 in favor of Makabu, as well as Steve Weisfeld who scored it 115-113 for Makabu as well.
Malik Scott Gives His Thoughts On Canelo Alvarez Vs. Ilunga Makabu: “He’s Food For Canelo”
By: Hans Themistode
Most of the boxing world was left shellshocked when it was announced that Canelo Alvarez would move up from 168 pounds to the cruiserweight division to take on WBC belt holder Ilunga Makabu.
Although the Mexican star once captured a world title at 175 pounds against Sergey Kovalev in 2019, he admitted soon after that fighting as a light heavyweight for a protracted period of time would be too much of an ask of his body. Still, despite those words, Alvarez will look to reign as a cruiserweight champion in the first half of 2022.
While Mauricio Sulaiman, President of the WBC sanctioning body, has allowed Alvarez to skip the line and challenge Makabu for his world title, the Mexican product could be forced to change course as Makabu is set to take on Thabiso Mchunu on January 29th.
Should Makabu take care of business, he’ll walk into a showdown against Alvarez as the considerably bigger man. Still, despite dwarfing the pound-for-pound star, newly retired fighter turned trainer Malik Scott, believes Makabu is essentially going to be a walk in the park.
“Canelo is just too technically sound for him,” said Scott during an interview with ESNEWS. “He’s never fought anyone as surgical as Canelo, especially when it comes to going to the body. I think stylistically, he’s food for Canelo.”
Alvarez, 31, is still basking in his recent undisputed glory. After stripping away the super middleweight titles of Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, Alvarez became the first fighter to hold all four world titles at 168 pounds following his 11th round stoppage victory over Caleb Plant just over a month ago.
Although many expected Alvarez to either campaign at 168 pounds or make a permanent move to the light heavyweight division, he instead opted for history. Should Alvarez capture a cruiserweight world title, he’ll become the first five-division champion of Mexican descent.
By all accounts, Scott isn’t discrediting the overall skills of Makabu. In fact, considering his penchant for knockouts and a title reign that’s on the verge of reaching three years, and the newly turned head trainer tips his cap in Makabu’s direction as a form of respect. However, while Scott is fully aware that Alvarez will face arguably the biggest puncher of his career, Scott doesn’t believe Alvarez will need any help from the judges if and when the two lock horns.
“He’s a good fighter and very suitable and deserves this shot but that guy was chosen for a reason. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Canelo stopped him.”
Ilunga Makabu: “I Can Punch, Let’s See If Canelo Can Take It”
By: Hans Themistode
Canelo Alvarez has continued to look far and wide for what he considers challenges.
After capturing the final piece of the 168-pound puzzle against Caleb Plant roughly two weeks ago to become the division’s first undisputed world champion, the Mexican star was filled with joy. However, shortly after, a gaping hole remerged.
While Alvarez had no shortage of big fights to choose from, both he, and head trainer Eddy Reynoso, opted to move away from taking on the likes of WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, two-time super middleweight belt holder David Benavidez, and unified light heavyweight titlist Artur Beterbiev. Instead, team Alvarez appears more interested in making history.
During the World Boxing Councils’ recent convention, Reynoso requested that Alvarez be allowed to move up from 168 pounds to take on current cruiserweight belt holder, Ilunga Makabu.
“As the representative of Canelo,” said Reynoso during the WBC convention. “I am here to ask the World Boxing Council, the next fight for Canelo will be cruiserweight champion [Ilunga] Makabu for May or June.”
Although initially taken aback, Mauricio Sulaiman, President of the sanctioning body, formally agreed to allow their contest to take place next.
“This is a very big surprise,” said Sulaiman. “But the WBC has approved unanimously for Saul Canelo Alvarez to fight for the cruiserweight championship of the world.”
Now, with the pair seemingly on a collision, Makabu gave his feelings on the ambitions of Alvarez.
“I can say he’s crazy because he wants to challenge a dangerous man,” said Makabu during an interview with Fight Hub TV.
Makabu, 34, rose to prominence in January of 2020. Since suffering a surprising third-round stoppage defeat at the hands of Tony Bellew in 2016, the South African resident reeled off nine straight wins, seven of which came via stoppage.
Following his unanimous decision victory over Michal Cieslak, Makabu wrapped the vacant WBC crown around his waist. He would then go on to stop Olanrewaju Durodola 11 months later.
Though Makabu is firmly of the belief that he’s the best fighter in the cruiserweight division, Alvarez’s willingness to step into his domain was astonishing. Once a showdown between the pair was presented to him, Makabu admits that he began going through numerous emotions.
“My first emotion is, I’m facing the best fighter on the planet,” explained Makabu. “Secondly, I say why did he choose me? I understand that he didn’t choose me but the time choose me because right now I am a champion.”
If Alvarez successfully rips away Makabu’s WBC crown, he’ll become the first five-division world champion of Mexican descent. Admittedly, Makabu applauds Alvarez for his aspirations. Also, while the 34-year-old never anticipated a showdown between them, he reveals that he’s watched several of Alvarez’s fights.
Throughout the career of the Mexican star, not only has he been lauded for his boxing ability but also, for his granite level chin. With that said, Makabu is anxious to find out just how durable Alvarez is in the ring.
“I can box, I can punch. Let’s see if Canelo can take it.”