Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu has a very clear vision for the year ahead.

The reigning WBC cruiserweight champion aims to make a statement in his U.S. debut, coming in the form of a rematch with Thabiso Mchunu more than six years after their first meeting. The bout—which headlines a Pay-Per-View Show from W.D. Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio (Saturday,, $49.95)—will mark the second title defense for Makabu (28-2, 25KOs), who made headlines following the 59th annual WBC convention last November.

Makabu found himself as the unexpected target of pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-1-2, 39KOs), whose head trainer Eddy Reynoso requested permission for his charge to next challenge for the cruiserweight title. It remains to be seen whether Alvarez takes that leap or remains put at super middleweight where he is the undisputed champion.

Either way, Makabu is using it as motivation both for Saturday evening and for what he hopes to be his next assignment.

“My 2022 is simple,” Makabu told “On Saturday night, I’m going to knock out Thabiso Mchunu again. Then I’m going to knock out Canelo.”

It’s a bold claim by Makabu, though he remains more convinced of beating Alvarez than he is of the possibility of their fight coming to fruition. Guadalajara’s Alvarez has won titles in four weight divisions—junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight. An eleventh-round knockout of Caleb Plant last November saw Alvarez emerge as the first-ever undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history and also the first ever Latino to earn undisputed championship status at any weight in the three- or four-belt era.

There is still plenty of road ahead in the career of the 31-year-old Alvarez, who aims to make more history by winning a fifth divisional title. No Mexican fighter has ever accomplished such a feat, which prompted Reynoso to make the spur-of-the-moment request without even first checking with his fighter. Alvarez was fine with the decision, one that Makabu hopes he follows through in his next fight or two.

“He wants to fight the best,” Makabu said of Alvarez. “He wants to try to make history and he loves the green (WBC) belt. I hold that title and I will still hold it even after we fight.”

Of course, Makabu still has to defend his title on Saturday to get to that point.

The first fight with Mchunu (23-5, 13KOs) saw Makabu trail on two of the three scorecards before ending matters in an instant with a sensational eleventh-round knockout. A left uppercut and overhand left sent Mchunu crashing to the canvas in their memorable May 2015 encounter.

“This is the perfect opportunity for me to make myself known to the American boxing fans,” insists Makabu. “I am fighting someone whose style I know very well. I am the world champion this time and I am going to do even better in this fight. I won’t have to come back, I will outbox and outfight Mchunu and knock him out once again.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox