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Ilunga Makabu to defend WBC cruiserweight title against Noel Gevor in January

Ilunga Makabu (right) battles Thabiso Mchunu during their January 2022 rematch.
Fighters Network

WBC cruiserweight titleholder IIunga Makabu will face Noel Gevor at the Casino Miami Jai-Alai in Florida on January 21, 2023. The fight will headline a Don King event dubbed “Let Freedom Ring! Clash of the Champions!”

The undercard will be announced in due course.

Makabu (29-2, 25 knockouts), who is rated No. 4 by The Ring at 200 pounds, worked his way up by scoring impressive wins over Eric Fields (KO 5), Glen Johnson (TKO 9) and Thabiso Mchunu (KO 11) to earn a shot at the vacant WBC title in May 2016. But although he dropped Tony Bellew in the opening round, Makabu let things slip and was stopped in the third.

The Congo-born lefty responded by winning seven fights, including two in Russia over Dmitry Kudryashov (TKO 5) and Alexsei Papin (MD 12), who is currently rated No. 6. Those triumphs saw him rewarded with a second title opportunity, and this time Makabu edged past Michal Cieslak (UD 12) to capture the WBC belt. The 35-year-old power-puncher defended against Olanrewaju Durodola (TKO 7) before controversially outpointing Mchunu (SD 12) in their rematch earlier this year.

Gevor (26-2, 11 KOs) turned professional in 2011. Over the next several years, he reeled off 22 consecutive wins, notably beating respected trio Tamas Lodi (TKO 7), Valery Brudov (UD 10) and Stephen Simmons (SD 12). He lost his unbeaten record to former two-time cruiserweight titleholder Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (SD 12) in 2017.

The Armenia-born German, who was the subject of a “New Faces” column on RingTV in 2015, got back in the win column before putting up a spirited effort in defeat to Mairis Briedis (UD 12) in Latvia. Since then, the 32-year-old has won three consecutive fights to move up the WBC ratings and earn this opportunity.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].