Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu and Thabiso Mchunu are ready to do it again.
Both boxers made weight ahead of their scheduled 12-round rematch for Makabu’s WBC cruiserweight title. The bout headlines a Don King-promoted and independently distributed Pay-Per-View event Saturday evening from W.D. Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio.
Makabu (28-2, 25KOs) checked in at a fit and trim 197 pounds for the second defense of the WBC cruiserweight title he won two years ago—almost to the day—in a twelve-round decision over Michal Cieslak in January 2020. Mchunu (23-5, 13KOs) weighed 198 ½ pounds for his second shot at a major title.
The bout comes nearly seven years after their first meeting, which saw Makabu rally from behind to score an eleventh-round stoppage win in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The Congolese puncher lost his next fight, trading knockdowns with Tony Bellew only to fall last in a third-round knockout defeat in their May 2016 vacant WBC cruiserweight title fight in Liverpool, England.
Makabu has since won nine in a row heading into Saturday’s bout, which marks his U.S. debut.
Mchunu also went on to fight for a major title since his first fight with Makabu, suffering a ninth-round stoppage to then-unbeaten WBO cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs) in December 2016. Mchunu would lose two of his next four following the title shot before turning things around as he has won four in a row. The squat contender from Cato Ridge, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa picked up impressive back-to-back victories over former WBA cruiserweight titlist Denis Lebedev and 2016 Olympic Gold medalist Evgeny Tishchenko.
The evening’s co-feature pits WBA “World” heavyweight titlist Trevor Bryan (21-0, 15KOs) versus late replacement Jonathan Guidry (17-0-2, 10KOs) in a scheduled 12-round bout.
Bryan weighed a career heaviest 268 pounds for the first defense of his secondary heavyweight title. Guidry checked in at 246 ½ pounds, nearly 17 pounds lighter than his previous fight five months ago though still in less than stellar physical condition.
Bryan weighed 267 ½ pounds for his vacant WBA title win over faded former WBC titlist Bermane Stiverne last January 29 in Hollywood, Florida. Stiverne accepted the fight on very short notice in place of Manuel Charr, who was unable to enter the U.S. due to a failure to secure a P-1 travel visa in time. The same dilemma plagued efforts to reschedule the bout for this weekend, leading to Guidry landing assignment after magically appearing in the most recent WBA heavyweight rankings earlier this month.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox