Who is Ilunga Makabu ?

Junior Ilunga Makabu (born 8 November 1987) is a Congolese professional boxer, who has held the WBC cruiserweight title since January 2020, and also challenged once for the same title in 2016.

As of September 2021, he is ranked as the World's second best active cruiserweight by BoxRec,[1] the The Ring magazine[2] and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.[3] He is the older brother of heavyweight boxer Martin Bakole.[4]


Early career

His professional career began on 20 June 2008, when he lost four round bouts fighting (by technical knockout in the first round) with the South African boxer Khayeni Hlungwane. The fight was held at the Carousel Hotel & Casino in Temba in the province of North-West. On September 13, 2008 his achieved his first victory, defeating by technical knockout in the first round the representative of Zimbabwe Elvis Moyo. On 19 November 2011 he faced Brazilian Pedro Otas. A twelve-round fight was organized at Monte Casino in Johannesburg, starring Michael Buffer. The dominant Makabu ended the duel by technical knockout in the eleventh round.

WBC Silver Cruiserweight champion

Makabu vs. Kudryashov

Makabu was scheduled to fight Dmitry Kudryashov for the vacant WBC Silver cruiserweight title on June 16, 2019, at the KRK Uralets in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The two fighters had a combined 46 knockouts in 47 total fights, which led many media outlets to predict that the fight would end in a finish.[5][6] Makabu won the fight by a fifth-round technical knockout. Although Kudryashov wasn't knocked down, the stream of undefended punches near the end of the fifth round forced the referee to step in and stop the bout.[7]

Makabu vs. Papin

On July 12, 2019, rumors surfaced that Makabu would defend his WBC Silver title against the undefeated Alexei Papin, who was the #14 ranked IBF cruiserweight contender.[8] On July 30, the WBC confirmed that the fight would take place on the Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde undercard, on August 24, 2019, at the Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, Russia.[9] Makabu won the fight by majority decision, with two judges scoring the fight 115-113 in his favor, while the third judge scored it as a 113-113 draw. Papin flagged in the mid-rounds, and was nearly finished in the eight round and twelfth rounds.[10]

WBC Cruiserweight champion

Makabu vs. Cieślak
Makabu was scheduled to face the undefeated Michał Cieślak for the vacant WBC cruiserweight title on January 31, 2020, at the Temporary Arena in Kinshasa, Congo. Cieślak was originally scheduled to fight Nuri Seferi on December 20, 2019, before he withdrew from that bout to face Makabu for the WBC title on January 18, 2020. However, due to some disagreements between Makabu and the WBC, the fight was postponed to January 31.[11] Cieślak faced further problems on the day before the fight, as both he and his promoters were robbed at the hotel they were staying at in Kinshasa.[12]

Cieślak had a great start to the fight and appeared close to finishing Makabu in the third round, only for the round to end a full minute early. Makabu rebounded in the fourth round, knocking Cieślak down with two heavy blows, one of which was a blatant uncalled rabbit punch. Cieślak returned the favor in the fifth round, as Makabu was ruled to be in a state of knockdown after he touched the canvas with his glove. Makabu was awarded the unanimous decision after twelve rounds, with scores of 114-112, 115-111 and 116-111.[13]

Makabu vs. Durodola

Makabu was scheduled to make the first defense of his WBC Cruiserweight title against the reigning African cruiserweight champion Olanrewaju Durodola at the Studio Mama Angebi in Kinshasa, Congo.[14] He won the fight by a come-from-behind seventh-round knockout. Makabu appeared to be down on the scorecards after the first six rounds were fought, but rallied back to knock Durodola down with a pair of left hooks with a minute to go in the seventh round. Although Durodola managed to beat the eight-count, the referee nonetheless decided to wave off the fight.[15]

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