Ilunga Makabu Has To Make Do With Tough Split Decision Win Over Mchunu But Vows To “Knock Out Canelo Next”

By James Slater - 01/30/2022 - Comments

Ilunga Makabu is still the WBC cruiserweight champion, this courtesy of a tough, close decision win over Thabiso Mchunu in their rematch. The fight of course took place on Don King’s card last night – King emerging from exile for the first time in some months – and Makabu was fighting for more than just his title. The Canelo sweepstakes very much a thing for him, Makabu knew he had to defeat Mchunu (again, last night’s fight a rematch of a 2015 battle which Makabu won by 11th round KO) to remain in the frame.

Now 29-2(25) Makabu prevailed by scores of 116-112 and 115-113, with the third judge seeing it Mchunu’s way at 115-113. Mchunu is now 23-6(13) and he may not get another shot at a world title.

But for Makabu, it will be Canelo next – at least this is what the 34 year old said post-fight.

“Today, I didn’t come for the knockout,” Makabu said. “I just came to show that I can box. I am going to box and knock Canelo out in my next fight, baby. My next fight is with Saul Canelo – I’m going to box and knock you out.”

But will the fight happen? Canelo is currently mulling over his options: a two-fight deal from Eddie Hearn, Dmitry Bivol and then GGG, and an offer of a Jermall Charlo fight from PBC and Showtime. Is Canelo still interested in going for a cruiserweight belt? Will Canelo have liked what he saw from Makabu last night, in as much as will he feel Makabu is there for the taking, for his taking?

If he doesn’t get the Canelo fight, Makabu could, in theory, land a unification fight or two at 200 pounds. Fights with Mairis Briedis and/or Lawrence Okolie would certainly be interesting, for Makabu and for us fans. But Canelo will be the man who decides Makabu’s immediate future, whether he likes it or not. That mega-payday may or may not be close for Makabu.

But basing things on his at times laboured performance last night, does Makabu have a good shot at defeating Canelo if he does land the fight?