Junior Makabu More Attractive Opponent For Canelo Now?
Off his Saturday night WBC Cruiserweight title defense win, Ilunga “Junior” Makabu was very quick to “call out” his next potential opponent. And, in a bit of irony, as shaky as Makabu looked in getting his split decision victory over Thabiso Mchunu, that potential opponent- Canelo Alvarez- may be more interested in fighting him later this year.
First, the pair of southpaws fought at close quarters in the Don King Productions main event in Ohio throughout the bout. The challenger Mchunu seemingly got the better of the champion by scoring first with right jabs and left hooks. But, Makabuu, now 29-2, rallied late and did enough for the judges to win a split decision of 115 – 113 and 116 – 112 on two of the cards, while the Challenger Mchunu got the 115-113 nod on the 3rd scorecard.
Makabu, the native of the Congo, did seem to score more clearly, especially in the last couple of rounds the fight to help him pull it out. He was making the second defense of his WBC world title that he won decision over Michal Cieslak in January of 2020.
Then, came his post fight comments in the ring to broadcast analyst Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini,
“My next fight (is) with Saul CA-NE-LO — I’m going to box and knock you out. Viva Mexico!” he said.
Later Makabu made clear that he believes he’s done enough to warrant the huge bout with the four division world champ and future Hall of Famer, Alvarez.
“I didn’t come for a knockout. I just came to box… This is our time for Congo,” insisted Makabu. “We are number one in the world.”
For his part, Alvarez and his team made the request to fight Makabu in person at the WBC convention in Mexico City back in November. It would definitely be a huge challenge for Canelo to move up from where he’s regularly fought for the last year and a half at 168 lb. to over 190 lb.
For now, Canelo is expected to participate, as a celebrity player in the PGA Tour’s “AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am” golf tournament in Northern California this week. Alvarez, who is a quality golfer, also played last July in a televised celebrity competitive event in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
It’s believed that Canelo is more interested in fighting PBC fighter and WBC unbeaten Middleweight champ Jermall Charlo in Las Vegas on “Cinco de Mayo” weekend in May. However, as slow and flat-footed as Makabu looked most of his fight on Saturday night, he’d be an easy target for Alvarez’s skill and power punching.
So, the intrigue of Canelo going for a Cruiserweight title could build for later in 2022 after his May bout.