Ilunga Junior Makabu to face Noel Mikaelyan on Jan. 21 in Miami

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Ilunga Junior Makabu will defend his WBC title against Noel Mikaelyan on Saturday, Jan. 21, headlining a Don King-promoted card at Casino Miami Jai-Alai.

King has titled the card, “Let Freedom Ring! Clash of the Champions!” because he always has to name it something goofy and couldn’t settle on one thing.

Makabu (29-2, 25 KO) is a genuinely exciting fighter, never dull to watch, and the 35-year-old southpaw has held the WBC cruiserweight belt since beating Michael Cieslak for the vacant strap in Jan. 2020. He’s made two defenses, beating Olanrewaju Durodola and in Dec. 2020 and Thabiso Mchunu in Jan. 2022. The latter was a controversial split decision on a King card in Warren, Ohio.

Mikaelyan (26-2, 11 KO) is a 32-year-old Armenian-born German and a legitimate contender. Many felt he should have been given the nod in both of his losses, a 2017 split decision in Poland against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and a 2018 decision in Chicago against Mairis Briedis in the World Boxing Super Series.

Mikaelyan has won three in a row, two in Latvia and one at the Miami airport Hilton. Makabu’s last loss came back in 2016 at Goodison Park, where he was stopped in three by Tony Bellew in an action-packed fight.

In short, no matter what you may think of Don King promoting cards at a jai-alai court in Miami — it’s where he had the Bryan vs Dubois card this past June — this is a good fight on paper, two legitimate top 10 guys at cruiserweight who could make for a very fun bout.

Expect pay-per-view for this. At the moment, nothing is officially set for Jan. 21, but it seems the most likely date for Ryan Garcia vs Mercito Gesta on DAZN, too, what with Showtime making Jermell Charlo vs Tim Tszyu official for Jan. 28.

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