Shaun Brown looks ahead to this weekend’s WBC cruiserweight world title bout which features on the undercard of Jake Paul v Tommy Fury.
If the thought of a Jake Paul-Tommy Fury fight is of no interest to you then the chief support bout should definitely whet your appetite.
While the two main eventers will dominate the coverage, WBC Cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu (8/15) defends his title against former two-weight titlist Badou Jack (11/8), remarkably as part of the undercard.
British fight fans will remember both fighters after Makabu crumbled at the hands of Tony Bellew in 2016, while Jack battled Nathan Cleverly, George Groves and James DeGale, winning two and drawing the other.
Makabu is on the wrong side of 35 with the Congolese warrior turning 36 in November, and Jack, the Swedish-born American, is on the hard road to 40 as he prepares to hit that milestone later this year.
Given their age and the amount of miles on the clock, it’s fair to suggest that neither will prove too difficult to chase down, so we can expect to see some heavy engagement during the early exchanges (10/3 fight to be over between rounds 1 - 6).
The defending champion, Makabu, is unbeaten in ten fights since losing to Bellew at Goodison Park – going the scheduled 12-round distance three times in his last six outings.
Of Jack’s three professional defeats, only one came early when falling to Derek Edwards in the first round, long before the first of his world title successes.
A distance fight may seem like a safe bet (5/6 to go to the judges scorecards), but Jack is now moving 25-pounds up in weight to a division where Makabu is the natural 200-pounds fighter.
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Makabu has 25 wins inside the distance from the 29 he has racked up, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is the heavier handed of the two – let’s not forget he memorably dropped Bellew with a straight left down the pipe in the opening round of their bout.
The southpaw puts his shots together well at close quarters and creates a variety of openings with his trusted left hand.
Jack, who is prone to nasty cuts, is a hard man to shift though, and we will find out soon enough how he has adapted to his new bulk and, more importantly, how he copes with Makabu’s undoubted power.
In his seven world title fights, the former super-middleweight (168-pounds) and light-heavyweight (175-pounds) champion went the full distance time on each occasion.
Inferior opposition have been dealt with relatively comfortably in the past but it would be a major shock if Jack was to beat Makabu inside the distance (4/1 to do so).
The overhand right of Jack is a punch to watch; it’s one that has given him plenty of success in the past. The veteran is also one to target the body in an attempt to prise open opportunities, and there is every chance that will prove his tactic in what will be his first serious cruiserweight venture.
In amongst the Paul and Fury circus, this legitimate world title fight should serve as a real boxing treat for fans.
Jack will need to grind out a win against Makabu, who in turn may look to swivel heads with a performance that could still tempt Canelo Alvarez into a crack at becoming a world champion in a fifth weight division.
This promises fireworks!
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Even at 39 Jack is not an athlete to let himself go, and will arrive in the Middle East in pristine condition. Durability is key here for the challenger and a points’ win is a very real possibility. I just can’t get away from the obvious fact that Makabu is the real cruiserweight here though. As I mentioned earlier, he is heavier handed and likely to be the fresher fighter of the two. I fully expect Jack to hear the final bell at the end of the 12th, but I find it difficult to foresee anything other than Makabu retaining hold of his prized WBC strap.
By Decision or Technical Decision - (7/4)