Against Badou Jack we saw Ilunga Makabu fall apart in the later round, but we have seen Makabu frequently threw his name into the hat to face Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, as soon as the Mexican signaled his intention to go up to cruiserweight and fight a champion at the weight. In fact, the fight between Makabu and Canelo for the belt was even approved by the WBC back in November 2021. By that logic, a fight with Badou Jack, who emphatically won the championship off Makabu last night by KO, could be in the future opponent for the Mexican P4P star.
Canelo’s quest for G.O.A.T status by taking on insane challenges is admirable but not without pitfalls. Canelo simply isn’t a natural fit at any weight beyond super middleweight. (I admit to reading too much into size difference for the first AJ Usyk fight but Usyk proved himself to be a one-of-a-kind freak of nature.)
Even before the Dmitry Bivol loss, Canelo initially struggled to deal with Sergey Kovalev’s physicality, who in the early stage of the fights had success in keeping him at an arm’s length with the jab/straight right combination.
Could Badou Jack Beat Canelo?
Badou Jack could take advantage of Kovalev’s early template to success, as he was able to back Makabu up on a regular basis. Much was made of Badou Jack not being a natural fit at cruiserweight himself before Sunday’s fight. However, he looked like a physically stronger man compared to Makabu in the ring.
Also, the knockout came from the reflex of Makabu to take steps back under the pressure of his left forearm of Jack, which set up the unraveling blow with the right hook. The fatal reaction of Makabu shows that Jack was able to establish dominance through the way he imposed his own size on the contest. It is also a testament to how Jack had worn down Makabu throughout the contest.
So for me, Badou Jack can lay a dent in Canelo because he has found a more comfortable home in moving up the weight divisions than the legendary Mexican. What amazed me was the power that he displayed in yesterday’s co-main event. Yes, a counter-argument can be made that Makabu is not on the defensive level as Canelo as a fighter.
But if the career-cruiserweight is dismantled, after reeling back from the bulldozing heft of Jack, Canelo will need to conjure up the niftiest of game plans to mitigate the impact of Jack’s power up at the 200-pound weight limit division. Despite my prediction of how it will go down, I’d still be craving for Canelo to give it a try, as it would make for a riveting battle.
By Harry Duffy