Ilunga Makabu vs. Thabiso Mchunu 2
W.D. Packard Music Hall, in Ohio, USA – 29 January 2022
WBC Cruiserweight Champion Ilunga Makabu (29-2, 25 KOs) of Johannesburg successfully defended his title for the second time and earned a shot at four-division world champion Canelo Alvarez by earning a split-decision over WBC Silver Cruiserweight titleholder Thabiso Mchunu (23-6, 13 KOs) of KwaZulu-Natal.
Judges Steve Weisfeld and Jamie Garayua scored the closely contested bout 115-113 and 116-112 respectively for Makabu, while Nathan Palmer saw it 115-113 for Mchunu.
“Today I didn’t come for the knockout,” said Makabu, who won the vacant WBC belt by registering a unanimous decision over Michal Cieslak almost exactly two years ago on Jan. 31, 2020. “I just came to show that I can box. I am going to box and knock Canelo out in my next fight, baby.”
In his United States debut, the 34-year-old Makabu pressed the action against his compatriot and successfully followed his team’s game plan from the opening bell to run his unbeaten streak to 10.
“We were leading the fight comfortably,” said Makubu’s trainer, Damien Durandt. “Junior (Makabu) boxed beautifully. We knew what Mchunu was about. He brought in some elements that surprised us. I told Junior not to look for the knockout. If it comes, we will take it. All I wanted from round one was points. He said to me, ‘I got you baby.’ “
Mchunu, who captured the WBC Silver title with a unanimous decision over Denis Lebedev on Dec. 21, 2019, saw his four-bout winning streak come to a disappointing end despite effectively counterpunching across 12 rounds.
“I landed a lot of my punches, but the judges saw it the other way, said the 33-year-old who fought in the U.S. for the sixth time. “He (Makabu) didn’t really hurt me.”
Despite residing less than 300 miles away from each other, the two evenly matched South African cruiserweight champions traveled more than 8,000 miles to Warren, Ohio, to headline Don King’s return to his home state. In addition to living in the same country, Makabu and Mchunu are only one year apart in age, both fight as southpaws, are only one inch apart in height.
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