An unexpected world title fight is set to take place on the undercard of the highly anticipated Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury fight on February 26th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The WBC cruiserweight world champion Ilunga Makabu will defend his title against former two-division world champion Badou Jack in the co-feature of the event.
It’s an exciting time for boxing fans as another high-stakes fight card has been announced, this time taking place in Saudi Arabia. The co-feature of the upcoming show, which is set for February 26th, will see former two-division world champion Badou Jack challenge Ilunga Makabu for the WBC cruiserweight title. This blockbuster event will be available on ESPN+ PPV for $49.99 and will begin at 2:00 PM ET, although that time slot may not be ideal for a pay-per-view event.
Badou Jack (27-3-3, 16 KOs) will take on Makabu (29-2, 25 KOs), who is the WBC cruiserweight champion. The surprise fight has sparked a lot of controversy, as Badou is not ranked among the top-15 contenders in the WBC, but still somehow managed to secure a shot at the title. Some believe that the 39-year-old is getting this opportunity because of his past performances, but others question why more talented and younger fighters, such as Richard Riakporhe, Sergey Kovalev, Chris Billam-Smith, Ryan Rozicki, or Yuniel Dorticos, who are all ranked higher than Badou, aren't getting a shot at the title.
Badou was once a dominant force in the ring, having defeated fighters such as Anthony Dirrell, Nathan Cleverly, Rogelio Medina, George Groves, and Lucian Bute. However, after a brutal war with WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson in May 2018, Badou has not been the same fighter. He absorbed a lot of punishment from the powerful southpaw Stevenson and fought to a 12-round draw. Although Badou rallied in the championship rounds, the devastating punches he took in that fight may have taken a toll on him. In the years following the Stevenson fight, Badou has not lived up to expectations, losing to Marcus Browne and Jean Pascal in his next two fights.
The fight against Makabu is set to be a part of the undercard of the highly anticipated Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury bout, which is set to take place in Saudi Arabia. Makabu, who has made two successful defenses of his title against Olanrewaju Durodola and Thabiso Mchunu, is no stranger to high-pressure situations. He previously fought Tony Bellew in 2016 for the vacant WBC cruiserweight world title, where he knocked Bellew down in the first round but ultimately lost in the third. Makabu has since earned a second world title shot and won it in 2020, defeating Michal Cieslak in Kinshasa.
Badou Jack, on the other hand, is no stranger to big-stage fights. He previously won the WBC super-middleweight title when he beat Anthony Dirrell in 2015 and was signed with Mayweather Promotions at the time, which allowed him to fight on several of Floyd Mayweather's undercards, including a bout on the undercard of Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor in Las Vegas in 2017. In 2020, he made his debut in the cruiserweight division and won against Blake McKernan on the undercard of Mike Tyson's return exhibition fight with Roy Jones Jr. in LA. And in 2022, he fought Michel Rivera on the undercard of the Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua rematch in Saudi Arabia.
This latest undercard is set to be another showcase for Badou Jack as he goes after the WBC cruiserweight title, which will be his first major title fight in several years.