Tuesday, December 05, 2023  |



Noel Mikaelian stops Ilunga Makabu in three rounds, wins vacant WBC cruiserweight title

Fighters Network

Noel Mikaelian made the most of the opportunity in fighting for his first world title belt.

Mikaelian dropped Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu twice en route to a third round knockout victory Saturday night at the Casino Jai Alai in Miami, Florida. Mikaelian, who improved to 27-2, 12 knockouts, won the vacant WBC cruiserweight title.

The 33-year-old Mikaelian dropped Makabu once during the second round. Makabu, who is ranked No. 5 by The Ring, beat the count, but continued to receive a lot of punishment. 

Past the midway point of the third round, Mikaelian countered Makabu with a right hand, followed by a barrage of punches that dropped him to the canvas. Makubu beat the count, but referee Gene Del Bianco waved the fight off at 1:00.

“I didn’t expect the knockout so early, but I knew my hand would be raised (in victory) at the end of the night,” said Mikaelian, who is of Armenian descent, grew up in Germany and now lives and trains in Miami. “I’m so happy. I waited two years. I was so close to winning that belt and, this time, I didn’t want to leave any doubts.

“I had a great camp. I’m the first German to win a world championship on American soil in 90 years, since Max Schmelling.”

Mikaelian has now won his last four fights since a controversial unanimous decision loss to Mairis Briedis in November 2018, a fight ringside media and boxing experts thought Mikaelian did enough to win. Mikaelian’s other defeat was a split decision loss to Poland’s Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in May 2017.

Makabu, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo and now resides in Johannesburg, South Africa, falls to 29-4, 25 KOs. He lost the WBC title in his previous fight on February 26, losing by knockout to Badou Jack.

Ironically, the Makabu-Mikaelian fight was scheduled to take place at the same venue in Miami on January 21, but the fight fell through. Makabu then made the title defense against Jack.

In the co-feature, heavyweight Jonathan Guidry of Dulac, Louisiana, knocked out Jesus Escalera in the second round. Guidry goes to 20-1-2, 12 KOs. 

A right cross dropped Escalera to the canvas in the second round. Escalera remained on the canvas as he was counted out at 2:00. 

Escalera, who was born in Puerto Rico and resides in Riverview, Florida, falls to 19-1, 19 KOs. Most of Escalera’s fights were in Colombia against mediocre opposition. 

Fringe heavyweight contender Cassius Chaney scored a one-punch knockout victory over Trevor Bryan. 

Chaney, who resides in New London, Connecticut, improved to 23-1, 16 KOs. 

The 36-year-old Chaney dropped Bryan in the second round. Bryan beat the count, but looked overwhelmed as Chaney was the aggressor.

Late in the seventh round, Chaney pinned Bryan against the ropes, unleashing a right cross to the head, dropping Bryan face-first to the canvas. Referee Luis Pabon immediately stopped at 2:03.

Bryan, who grew up in Albany, New York, falls to 22-2, 15 KOs. 

The card, which streamed live on Fite.tv, was promoted by Don King in conjunction with his 92nd birthday celebration. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]