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Thabiso Mchunu pushing for Makabu fight, won’t step aside for Canelo

Mchunu has held the “Silver” title since 2019 and won a final eliminator in March

Lebedev vs Mchunu WBC Silver cruiserweight title bout in Krasnoyarsk Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images

Eddy Reynoso caused quite the stir at the WBC convention earlier this month when he requested and received clearance to pit Canelo Alvarez against cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu. The WBC fell over themselves to accommodate, as Mauricio Sulaiman is a cretin whose favoritism knows no bounds, but there remains an issue: mandatory challenger Thabiso Mchunu. His trainer, Sean Smith, tells South Africa’s Sowetan LIVE that Mchunu has a “signed” defense in place and won’t take step-aside money to let the Canelo fight proceed.

Asked if they would take a step-aside fee should the Canelo camp approach them, Smith said: “We won’t take step-aside money; we want to fight Ilunga and win the WBC title. Canelo wants to fight Makabu in May – between that Makabu must settle the score with Thabiso. We are in the gym but obviously Thabiso needs to know exactly what is happening.”

Smith added: “This is a surprise to me but I’m sure he will continue to make history. Makabu has a mandatory defence signed with Mchunu. I will make immediate communication... they recorded a January date for the fight but their promoter said that he won’t be ready for January 8. I will immediately address this issue.”

We’re still six months away from the proposed May date and Makabu (28-2, 25 KO) hasn’t fought since last December; there’s theoretically still plenty of time to squeeze in the Mchunu (23-5, 13 KO) fight. “The Rock” has been Makabu’s top contender since outclassing Olympic gold medalist Evgeny Tischenko in March.

On top of that, Makabu hasn’t actually faced a single mandatory since beating Michal Cieslak for the belt in January 2020, and as far as I’m aware, the WBC doesn’t have the WBO’s policy of automatically installing a lower-weight champion as the top contender. If they followed any of their own rules, Makabu-Mchunu would be next.

But they’re garbage, so it won’t be.