Top cruiserweight contender Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu is predicting a triumphant world title victory this summer when the Congolese puncher faces Tony Bellew for the vacant WBC title.
The 28 year-old was due to meet Grigory Drozd on April 8 until the Russian pulled out injured, leaving the World Boxing Council with no choice but to declare the green belt vacant.
Makabu being number one was naturally ready to take on any of the next ranked challengers and UK promoter Eddie Hearn was the first to make an acceptable offer to the southpaw for a clash with Bellew.
The fight is already being pencilled in for June 4, potentially at Everton FC’s Goodison Park Stadium in Liverpool, and Makabu is fully confident that the encounter will end with his arm raised and the coveted strap firmly wrapped around him.
“For me, Tony Bellew is an easy fight, but I respect him like all my opponents, “ Makabu exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I am not disappointed to not fight Grigory Drozd as this is boxing and now we face Bellow so it’s not a problem.”
Asked about being seen as an early favourite despite the fight taking place at a soccer arena in Bellew’s home city, Makabu added: “I’m feeling like this is just like all my other fights because I always do it. I go everywhere all over the world to win, like South Africa, Monaco and Luxembourg. Now we go to the UK and it doesn’t matter to me.
“Everybody knows why I am the favourite in this fight as they know my knockout record. Tony Bellew is a good fighter, that’s why he is ranked at number six in a WBC rankings and has been EBU champion, but I know I can win this fight and become a champion myself.”
Bellew will realise his dream of fighting at the ground where he supports his local team passionately from the stands and where ‘The Bomber’ recently filmed scenes for a fictitious fight with actor Michael B. Jordan for the hit movie ‘Creed’ last year.
The Briton played ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan, a world champion defending his title at Everton FC, who eventually came out on top in front of his adoring fans. Bellew will hope to repeat that feat in reality over the summer, although Makabu clearly has other ideas on the matter.
“I never saw the movie ‘Creed’ so I didn’t see Bellew in it. The whole thing means nothing at all because that is a movie and now we are in real life.
“We will see what happens when the first bell rings and it will be no Rocky story for him,” Makabu added.