Ilunga Makabu’s manager Tarik Saadi has been highly gracious in defeat following Tony Bellew’s devastating third round win at Everton FC’s Goodison Park stadium over the weekend.
Makabu, 28, was knocked out cold by a crushing left hook from Bellew on the back of numerous solid straight rights to hand his British opponent the vacant WBC cruiserweight title to the delight of the home crowd.
Despite his instant joy, Bellew quashed celebrations until it was obvious Makabu had fully recovered and the pair enjoyed a classy embrace to end their rivalry full of completely mutual respect and new-found friendship.
Saadi is set to oversee the rebuilding of Makabu following only a second career loss – but was grateful to all concerned as the Congan received much love from the Liverpool crowd and Bellew following some needle beforehand.
“First of all, I’d like to thank God for having protected these two big boxers on Sunday evening and can tell you that Junior is okay,” Saadi exclusively told World Boxing News.
“Now, I wish to thank Eddie Hearn and Matchroom as well as the whole team involved in the preparations for their professionalism in arranging a magnificent evening at Goodison Park.
“Together, they have written an enormous page of history for professional boxing in England, and in Liverpool particularly, with Tony finalized the work to win the championship.
“I would like to express to Tony Bellew my sincere congratulations to him on this victory and wish him all the best for future. He was the strongest in the boxing ring on the night.
“I hope that he now defends his title successfully against Drozd or Breidis because, for me, he is the one that I shall support if those forces meet.
“I am also anxious to thank his Mom, his wife and her circle of acquaintances for their kindness towards Junior and to our whole Team Makabu. Tony showed us all that he has a big heart. He also showed that a champion can have that big heart with good people around him as Tony is very well surrounded.
“Again, many congratulations, because in all of this sport I like it better when there is a story to a victory and this was certainly a story to tell,” he added.
A well-earned rest is on the cards for Makabu in the immediate future, although the southpaw can certainly come again on recent form and have an impact on the division at some point further down the line.