Ilunga Makabu knocks down, majority decisions Aleksei Papin to win WBC silver title in Russia
Ilunga Makabu knocked down previously unbeaten Russian prospect Aleksei Papin on his way to winning the WBC silver cruiserweight title in the chief support for the Sergey Kovalev-Anthony Yarde world title fight in Chelyabinsk.
In a big punching matchup for the WBC silver 200lbs title, Papin, who had racked up 10 KOs from his 11 pro outings, faced off against another banger in former world title challenger Makabu.
The 31-year-old Papin was seen as one of Russia’s best up-and-coming prospects going into his 12th professional bout, while Makabu made his name in the division as a fearful puncher, registering 24 of 25 wins early against two defeats by the same method.
Result: Junior Ilunga Makabu gives Aleksei Papin his first professional defeat as he beats him in Russia by MD. It was a close fight with Makabu scoring a knockdown against Papin. Scores on the night were 113-113, 115-113 & 115-113. #MakabuPapin#KovalevYardepic.twitter.com/TQ1lnchlKJ
— Punchoutboxing (@Punchoutboxing5) August 24, 2019
When the action got going, Mukabu’s neat work to the body and head inside and shoulder movement to avoid returning blows from Papin seemed to be the difference. The Russan seemed to struggle to find an answer to Mukabu’s constant pushing and tidy punches, although he did land some telling right hand shots, knocking Papin across the ring on the bell to end the first.
Makabu, also 31, was warned for low blows in the early rounds, but that in no way helped Papin’s cause, the less experienced man seemed to be running out of ideas against a technician like Makabu.
Makabu found a furious rhythm in the seventh round, pummeling away at Papin, only for him to turn it around and hammer Makabu, which dragged the crowd up onto their feet to cry out in support of their man. From that moment the fight opened up, with the two landing vicious power punches.
After a coming together in the eighth, Papin hit the deck, but it was ruled a slip by the referee, but nonetheless the African began to open up, landing some beautiful uppercuts in the latter half of the round.
Papin was afforded a break in the ninth when Makabu’s tape came loose, and the two resumed their close-quarters action in the middle of the ring after the restart. The fight surprisingly reached the championship rounds.
In the tenth, Makabu furiously followed Papin around the ring, hammer away with his left hook, sometimes with three in a row to try and wear his man down and wobbling the Russian with a straight right hand late on. Papin trudged back to his corner breathing heavily at the end of the round.
In the eleventh, Makabu laid on an onslaught and looked to have Papin out on his feet, and the home man only stayed upright by leaning and grabbing hold of his opponent, but nonetheless staggered back to his corner wearing a hint of dejection in his gaze. Makabu could smell blood.
🇷🇺 First Dmitry Kudryashov, now Aleksei Papin. Credit to Ilunga Makabu, travelling to beat two fearsome Russian cruiserweights in their back yards within the space of ten weeks. Three years on from his defeat to Tony Bellew, he’s back in position to fight for the WBC title again.
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) August 24, 2019
In the final round Makabu stalked and landed at a much slower rate but a lot harder, and eventually got to his man in the final minute, knocking down Papin, who incredibly insisted it was a slip, but the referee had already begun his count Papin responded well by pinning Makabu in the corner and hammering away in the final seconds but it was too little, too late, and by the time the bell sounded to end a war of a fight, almost all knew the fate of the Russian.
The judges scored 114-114, 115-113, 115-113 for a majority decision win for Makabu, who must be eager to land another title shot with the WBC silver strap, having lost to Englishman Tony Bellew in Liverpool in 2016.