The Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio, is the setting for world championship action this Saturday night, with Ilunga Makabu defending his WBC cruiserweight title in a rematch against Thabiso Mchunu on a show promoted by Don King, live on FITE TV PPV in the UK and USA.
The carat on offer for the winner of Makabu vs Mchunu here could well be a glamour match against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, with the WBC approving a fight between the Mexican four-weight world titlist and the current 200lb champion in November.
Firstly though, these two renew old rivalries, with the duo first meeting way back in May 2015. On Mchunu’s home patch in South Africa, Makabu (28-2, 25 KOs) was behind on two cards before pulling out an eleventh round knockout win, and that handed the Congolese a shot at the vacant WBC title.
In front of a partisan Liverpool crowd, Makabu looked on course to be new champion, but Tony Bellew had other ideas, coming off the canvas to win via knockout in round three.
Nine straight wins have followed for the 34-year-old, and he finally got his hands on the green and gold strap in January 2020, outscoring Michal Cieslak for the vacant title in January 2020.
Makabu has defended once, in December of the same year, stopping recent Richard Riakporhe victim, Olanrewaju Durodola in seven in Kinshasa.
Mchunu (23-5, 13 KOs) is on a run of four wins on the spin, and the South African native challenges for the world title for a second time, after suffering a ninth round knockout defeat to Oleksandr Usyk in December 2012.
The back end of 2019 saw one of the 33-year-old’s best wins, a decision success over Denis Lebedev, and ‘The Rock’ was last out in March last year, widely outscoring previously unbeaten Evgeny Tishchenko over twelve to defend his WBC Silver title.
Prediction: This is an interesting sequel, with both making improvements since their original meeting. With the heavier hands though, I think Makabu can retain, again by late stoppage.
Bryan defends WBA heavyweight title against Guidry
The second world title attraction is a loose term. The WBA ‘regular’ title makes another unwelcome appearance, and current holder, Trevor Bryan defends his hardware against little-known Louisianan, Jonathan Guidry.
After waiting for a shot at Manuel Charr, Bryan (21-0, 15 KOs) won the vacant WBA belt against Bermane Stiverne last time out, after King’s promotional company didn’t secure him a travel visa and he was subsequently stripped of his title.
The 32-year-old New Yorker scored an eleventh round stoppage win, and looks to build on that against Guidry (17-0-2, 10 KOs) here, with a potential fight with number one contender, Daniel Dubois in the offing.
Also 32, ’The King’ has never been past eight rounds, and that was in his last fight against trial horse, Rodney Moore, who took a faded Roy Jones Jr ten rounds in 2016, losing every session.
Prediction: Quite how Guidry receives this shot is anyone’s guess, and I expect his unbeaten record to go here, with Bryan sewing up the win before halfway.
At cruiserweight, Jayson Woods (11-1-1, 5 KOs) can halt the experienced Shawn Miller (18-6-1, 7 KOs).
Johnnie Langston (9-3, 3 KOs) should take a points win over Nick Kisner (22-5-1, 6 KOs) in their NABA cruiserweight title clash, and Cody Wilson (10-3, 7 KOs) can do the same in his NABA welterweight title contest with Tre’Sean Wiggins (12-5-3, 6 KOs).
In the last of the NABA title fights, Michael Moore (18-3, 8 KOs) should see off Anthony Lenk (17-7, 7 KOs) on points in their middleweight bout.