It was repeat and not revenge in the main event at the Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio, as Ilunga Makabu kept hold of his WBC cruiserweight title with a split decision win over Thabiso Mchunu.
The pair had met way back in 2014, when Makabu came from behind to score an eleventh round knockout win in his opponent’s South African back yard. Since then, Makabu claimed the vacant WBC belt in January 2020, and defended for the first time in December of the same year, stopping Olanrewaju Durodola in seven. Mchunu was on a four fight winning streak, and came in as a previous holder of the WBC Silver title.
Mchunu began off the jab to dissuade Makabu from landing heavy shots in the opener, but Makabu landed his left hand with regularity in the second, although Mchunu did have success on the counter. The champion had another successful round in the third, but back came Mchunu in round four, with his in-fighting and close work giving him the edge. Mchunu was warming to his task, and he stunned Makabu in the fifth, and he was getting the better of the contest with his boxing and and punch-picking. The second half of the fight though belonged to Makabu, as he picked up the pace and sensed the urgency, upping his output and establishing his jab, which he utilised up to the championship rounds. Mchunu did land a countering left hand in the penultimate round that again seemed to trouble Makabu, and it was a relatively quiet final frame as the contest went to the cards.
With one card each at 115-113 to each fighter, a 116-112 verdict for Makabu was enough for him to retain his belt for a second time.
Victory for Makabu could well land him a dream ticket to fight Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, who is keen to add another world title in another weight class. Makabu vowed to knock out the Mexican in his post-fight interview.
In the chief support, the WBA ‘Regular’ heavyweight title remained with Trevor Bryan, as he took a split decision win against Jonathan Guidry. Bryan was due to face Manuel Charr, but yet more issues got in the way, and Charr was unable to obtain a visa. Guidry stepped in at less than a months’ notice, and gave a decent account of himself in defeat. Bryan took over from the halfway mark, and dropped Guidry with an accumulation of punches in the final round. Scores of 118-109 and 116-111 gave Bryan the win, meaning a 115-112 card for Guidry wasn’t a factor. Daniel Dubois could well be the next opponent for Bryan.
My boy #TrevorBryan pic.twitter.com/RENn0DkVs4
— puma (@Puma213) January 30, 2022
< Also at heavyweight, Dacarree Scott took a ten round split decision win against Ahmed Hefny. Scott moved to 7-0 with the win, and scores of 96-94 and 97-93 for the Georgia native overruled a 96-94 verdict for Hefny.
Johnny Langston claimed the vacant NABA cruiserweight title with a fifth round stoppage win against Nick Kisner, and Michael Moore took the vacant NABA belt at middleweight with a ten round decision win against Anthony Lenk. The third vacant NABA title clash went the way of Tre’Sean Wiggins, who stopped Cody Wilson in three rounds.