Ilunga “Junior” Makabu and Dmitry Kudryashov threw down on Sunday.
Both cruiserweights are known for heavy hands and tear-up fights, so Sunday’s meeting in Ekaterinburg, Russia, between Dmitry Kudryashov and Ilunga “Junior” Makabu figured to be a fun one that wouldn’t go the distance.
And it was, in fact, a fun one that didn’t go the distance.
Kudryashov, the underdog despite the home field advantage (or well, he should have been), and Makabu came out throwing in the opening round, not going nuts or getting wild in exchanges, but throwing the intention.
Makabu banged away a bit in the second, but Kudryashov clipped him with a little left hook counter that put Makabu on the back foot, Kudryashov driving him into the corner with aggression. Makabu stood his ground, threw back, and turned out, then came back bombing and drilled Kudryashov with a straight left that put the Russian on the canvas, with Makabu himself still looking a little wobbly throwing the punch.
Kudryashov got up and fought on, and staggered Makabu again with a counter shot, but Makabu cracked him with a swinging left just at the bell, knocking Kudryashov into the ropes but not down.
Sensing blood in the water, and because it’s just the way he fights, Makabu came out charging in the third, putting hard pressure on Kudryashov against the ropes. Kudryashov did his best to weather the storm and throw back some, too, but Makabu wouldn’t budge. Once Kudryashov got off the ropes and a bit of distance, it was back to two-way action, though Makabu still got the better of things, and ended the round much as he’d started it, bombing away at Kudryashov, who stuck in a right hand that backed Makabu up a bit just before the bell, with no time to capitalize.
A little over a minute into the fourth, Kudryashov landed a couple good shots, but again Makabu stood his ground, pumping his jab out to slow Kudryashov’s momentum and get the fight back on his terms. Kudrayshov’s face, already swelling and marking up and bleeding, was looking pretty bad by this point, and the referee instructed the doctor to take a look, but she said to let it continue. The rest of the round went by without a whole lot happening.
Early in the fifth, Kudryashov tried to make a big charge, again landing some nice shots, but once more with Makabu taking them pretty well, considering the legitimate power of the Russian. Makabu started boxing a bit more again, continuing to bust up the face of his opponent, and then started throwing power shots in combination. Kudryashov once again went to the ropes, and was clearly growing increasingly desperate. He got off the ropes, but Makabu just kept smacking him in the mush, and finally after another clean left backed a reeling Kudryashov to the ropes again, the referee stepped in to stop the assault.
With the win, Makabu improves to 25-2 (24 KO) and solidifies his spot in the cruiserweight division. The WBC title remains vacant, so his “silver” title actually has some meaning and might get him a title shot. Or maybe not. Kudryashov, game as always, falls to 23-3 (23 KO).