Ilunga Makabu Defeats Thabiso Mchunu By Tight Split Decision!
After more than a year on the sidelines, WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu (29-2, 25 KO’s) returned to the ring in less than dominant form. He was able to secure the win however, by narrowly outpointing Thabiso Mchunu (23-6, 13 KO’s) to win their main event dustup by way of SD. The bout, which was promoted by ninety year old Don King, aired live from the Packard Music Hall located in Warren, Ohio.
While Makabu was no doubt happy with the overall outcome of the night’s action, the match had to be something of a letdown. This is because, for a hot second, the Congo native was the leading candidate to take on undisputed super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. When this news got to the fans however, there was a substantial kickback. While no one from team Alvarez admitted this, it’s widely believed that the potential prizefight was quickly vetoed. Since the initial suggestion, little else has been said about his potential prizefight.
The loss will be especially bitter for Mchunu who had already lost to Makabu back on May 16, 2015. Like any proud competitor, he certainly was out to even the score. During their previous fight, the South African was soundly out-boxing Makabu when he was caught and stopped in the eleventh. It appeared that he stood an excellent chance of out-boxing the WBC champion in this instance, but the judges put a stop to that!
FLASH VERSUS SUBSTANCE
The bout opened with a standard feel-out round that saw the champ taking the initiative by coming forward. Even though he was the far more aggressive man, Makabu often looked off balance when delivering his offense. Conversely, the challenger Mchunu did well moving on his feet and caused his southpaw foe to miss with a good amount of his punches. Offensively speaking, Mchunu was content to counterpunch and focus a consistent jab to the body.
As the bout wore on, little changed about this overall script; although by the fourth and fifth rounds, Mchunu appeared to be the fresher fighter. Makabu was still more aggressive and throwing far more shots, but his offense was notably more sloppy and ineffective. Up until the ninth round, the flow of each period closely mirrored the previous one. By the ninth however, there was a subtle role shift. Makabu was still coming forward a good amount of the time. However, now it was Mchunu who was routinely marching forward and putting the champ on his back foot.
DEATH BY THE JUDGES
Barreling into the final round, neither man had really taken undeniable control of the fight. Really, it came down to what you like as a fight fan. Would the judges reward the near-constant, yet frequently inaccurate offense of the champion, or the smooth footwork and sharp counters by Mchunu? Despite the prizefight seemingly being up in the air, nothing about the tempo of the final round changed.
Due to this, the two men closed the show boxing in rather laidback fashion. After the final bell, before the cards were read, the champ went over to pay his respect to Mchunu. Yet, he was shoved for his trouble. The crowd booed the unsportsmanlike behavior. When the scorecards were read however, the champion received a beneficial split decision win to the tune of 115-113 Makabu, 115-113 Mchunu and 116-112 Makabu. During his post-fight interview, Makabu forcefully called out Canelo Alvarez. Now, we’ll have to see what’s next for the WBC cruiserweight champion.
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By: Bakari Simpson