WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu and his promoter Don King are now waiting to see if Canelo Alvarez chooses them for his next fight on May 7th.
Canelo, 31, and his trainer Eddy Reynoso have yet to reveal whether they’ll be taking the challenge to move up to cruiserweight for the chance to fight for a fifth division world title.
Reynoso previously attended the WBC convention and asked the sanctioning body for permission for Canelo to move up to cruiserweight to challenge the 34-year-old Makabu next.
What we don’t know at this time is if Reynoso and Canelo are still focused on fighting Makabu or if they’ve set their sights on a battle against the better-known Jermall Charlo.
If Canelo does choose to face Makabu on May 7th, will boxing fans be interested in watching this fight? While it’s great that Canelo wants to cement his legacy by capturing division titles, he’s doing it against opposition that fans aren’t interested in seeing him fight.
For example, when Canelo captured his fourth division world title in 2019, he chose Sergey Kovalev.
There was no demand for that fight from boxing fans, as Kovalev was 36 at the time and had been beaten in recent years by Eleider Alvarez and Andre Ward.
Makabu (29-2, 25 KOs) cleared his last hurdle blocking his way to a Canelo fight last Saturday night with a 12 round split decision victory over challenger Thabiso Mchunu at the Packard Music Hall, Warren.
Should Canelo fight Makabu?
“On Saturday, Junior Makabu defeated Thabiso Mchunu to retain his [WBC] cruiserweight title. Why does that matter? Because now Makabu can enter his name into the Canelo Alvarez sweepstakes [for May 7th],” said Chris Mannix to JABS on DAZN Boxing Show.
“In November, Canelo’s trainer Eddy Reynoso petitioned the WBC to make Canelo the mandatory for Makabu’s belt. After the [Mchunu] fight, Makabu said he was ready to fight Canelo next. Are you interested in Canelo vs. Makabu?”
In Canelo’s case, he can literally fight ANYBODY and boxing fans will be interested in watching him. We saw that when Canelo fought Avni Yildirim last year in a stay-busy fight.
No one was asking Canelo to fight the inactive contender Yildirim, as the Turkish fighter was coming off a two-year layoff and a loss to Anthony Dirrell, yet boxing fans still intently watched the fight.
It stands to reason that Canelo will get away with fighting Makabu next if he chooses to, and his loyal fans will still watch the Mexican star’s fight in high numbers regardless of his opponent being an obscure one.
“I’m not interested in that name or that fight, Junior Makabu per se, but I am interested in the history that it would bring,” said Sergio Mora in expressing approval of Canelo facing the WBC champion next.
“Canelo is going to be a five-division world champion, the first Mexican to do that. He cleaned out 168 to become the first 168-lb champion to collect all the belts in the four-belt era, and he’s Canelo Alvarez.
“He’s chasing the greatest Mexican fighter ever, Julio Cesar Chavez, which 15 years ago you couldn’t even mention anyone’s name alongside Chavez.
“Now, I think he [Canelo] can surpass him. So all these things, and he’s going to be one of the greatest to lace them up. For that reason, I am interested in Makabu, simply because of history and the fact that he’s going down in the history books,” said Mora.
I don’t think for a second that Canelo can surpass Julio Cesar Chavez by beating Makabu. for Canelo to surpass Chavez, he’s got to beat David Benavidez, Jermall Charlo, Artur Beterbiev, and Dmitry Bivol.
What Canelo is failing to realize is that for him to create a lasting legacy, he must face opposition that has a chance of beating him. In the last four years, Canelo has had too many fights in which his opponents had no chance of winning.
Makabu has little chance of beating Canelo
“I made the mistake of watching that entire card, and not only did I have to sit through Trevor Bryan, but I also had to watch Mchunu and Makabu,” said Mannix.
“Putting aside the fact that I don’t think Makabu won, nothing I saw in that fight made me think that Makabu would have any chance against Canelo Alvarez.
“He [Makabu] will be the naturally bigger fight. I guess you can call him the bigger puncher, but he looked out of shape, he looked slow and didn’t look like he had anything near the skills needed to beat Canelo Alvarez,” Mannix.
Makabu looked glacially slow in his win over Mchunu, and he was beaten to the punch the entire night by the challenger. Afterward, many boxing fans felt that Makabu has lost the fight, making him a poor option for Canelo to face in his next fight.
That being said, Canelo wasn’t deterred from fighting Callum Smith, Yildirim, Billy Joe Saunders, or Caleb Plant despite those fighters coming off poor performances as well. Maybe Canelo won’t care that Makabu looked dreadful against Mchunu?
If the idea is for Canelo to pad his resume with a fifth division title, he won’t care that Makabu’s win last Saturday night was a controversial one.
“So after watching that, any intrigue that I had in watching Canelo move up to cruiserweight is gone, vanished. I don’t want to see Canelo against Makabu. I don’t think it’s going to be a competitive fight.
“So if your Canelo and you want to get that new weight class, I get it, but I just don’t see what the challenge is in a fight like that against an opponent like that,” said Mannix.
Should Canelo fight Bivol or Charlo next?
“I think Canelo should zero in for a fight against [WBA light heavyweight champion] Dmitry Bivol for a 175-lb title or defending his four 168-lb belts against Jermall Charlo,” continued Mannix.
“Those seem to be the frontrunners for a Canelo fight. I would like to see him fight those two and NOT Junior Makabu,” said Mannix.
“Everybody is with you, Mannix, as far as the fight interest level and the popularity of the opponent,” said Mora.
“Of course, we want to see him against [Jermall] Charlo and [David] Benavidez, Bivol, and maybe even a Joe Smith because they’re champions. They’re unbeaten, and they’re the ones that demand attention.
“But as far as history goes, this is the only way, the only reason I’m bringing this up. History, man. Five-weight world champion. The first person to ever do that was Thomas Hearns.
“You’re going to be in a small group of people and history. That’s all I want it for. I mean, Makabu, he’s forgettable, but there are a lot of champions that have fought for multiple division world championships.
“You don’t remember the opponents. You just remember what they did, and they picked up that belt. That’s it,” said Mora in expressing approval of Canelo selecting weak champions to add to his resume superficially.
“Okay, but we would still have to watch him [Canelo] fight Makabu when there are much better fights out there for him to take,” said Mannix.
“I get it but look at Avni Yildirim. It was a stay-busy fight; people didn’t mind that. A quick knockout, and move on to the next one. It’s the same one here,” said Mora.
“Mosley-Mora,” said Mannix in reminding former WBA junior middleweight champion Mora of his fight 2010 fight against Shane Mosley.