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Ilunga Makabu vs. Badou Jack on February 26th on ESPN+ PPV in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Image: Ilunga Makabu vs. Badou Jack on February 26th on ESPN+ PPV in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

By Craig Daly: Former two-division world champion Badou Jack will challenge Ilunga Makabu for his WBC cruiserweight title on February 26th on ESPN+ PPV in the co-feature in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The fight card goes for $49.99 on PPV and will begin at 2:00 p.m. ET, which isn’t the ideal time for a pay-per-view event, but oh well, they’ll hope for the best.

It’s unclear why the 39-year-old Badou (27-3-3, 16 KOs) is getting a title shot against the 35-year-old Makabu (29-2, 25 KOs), as he’s not beaten anyone of note for many years, and there are arguably far more talented & younger contenders in the World Boxing Council’s top 15 rankings that are more deserving of a fight for the WBC cruiserweight belt.

The WBC shockingly has Badou ranked #3, ahead of these contenders:

Richard Riakporhe
Sergey Kovalev
Chris BIllam-Smith
Ryan Rozicki
Yuniel Dorticos

It’s fair to say that Badou would lose to every one of those fighters, even against the way past his best 39-year-old Kovalev,  who is still a dangerous puncher even at his ripe age.

Given how poor Badou looked in his last fight against Richard ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ Rivera last August in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, he doesn’t deserve a title shot.

Badou won a highly questionable 10 round split decision over Rivera by the scores 96-94, 96-94 for Jack, and 96-94 for Richard. This writer had Rivera winning 8-2.

The 14-year pro Badou was an excellent fighter during the prime of his career, beating the likes of Anthony Dirrell, Nathan Cleverly, Rogelio Medina, George Groves, and Lucian Bute.

However, Badou hasn’t looked the same since his brutal war with WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson in May 2018. Badou absorbed a lot of punishment from the powerful southpaw Stevenson, fighting to a 12 round draw.

Although Badou took the huge left-hand shots from Stevenson and rallied in the championship rounds to salvage a draw, the devastating punches that he was hit with in that fight might have taken something out of him.

That fight was the last impressive performance from Badou. From that point on, Badou has looked average, losing to Marcus Browne and Jean Pascal in his next two fights.

Following those losses, Badou’s management has backed him away from fighting quality opposition, choosing to match him against these lesser fighters:

Richard Rivera
Hany Antiyo
Samuel Crossed
Dervin Colina
Blake McKernan

Makabu is a mediocre champion who captured his WBC cruiserweight title three years ago, beating Michał Cieślak by a 12 round unanimous decision.

Since then, Makabu has milked his WBC belt, successfully defending it against 42-year-old Olanrewaju Durodola and Thabiso Mchunu. Those guys aren’t the best of the best of contenders in the WBC’s rankings.


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