Makabu wants to win world title for SA

Ilunga Makabu shows off championship belts he has earned in his professional career.
Ilunga Makabu shows off championship belts he has earned in his professional career.
Image: Supplied

Ilunga Makabu can't wait to thank President Cyril Ramaphosa for what SA has done for him and his successful boxing career.

The Congolese kicked off his blossoming career here in 2008. He had arrived in Johannesburg alone, a year earlier at the age of 20, seeking to start afresh in the city. He knew no one but was fortunately taken in by the late legendary boxing trainer Nick Durandt.

Makabu is confident of winning the vacant WBC cruiserweight belt against Michal Cieslak of Poland in the second edition of the "Rumble in the Jungle" in Congo tonight.

Makabu, from Kananga, the capital of Kasai Province in the Central African country, is now trained by Durandt's son Damien. The 32-year-old has stayed loyal the Durandt stable over the years.

His fight tonight was supposed to be the "Rumble in the Jungle 2", according to American promoter Don King.

But the man behind the historic original "Rumble in the Jungle" heavyweight fight which Muhammad Ali won by an eighth-round stoppage of George Foreman in that country 45 years ago, will not be in charge tonight.

Instead, some influential people in Congo will call the shots, with the assistance of Makabu's French manager Tarik Saadi.

Said Makabu yesterday: "I will never and never forget what South Africa did for me as a person and as a boxer.

"I will do anything and everything in my power to win this title. I failed to win it against Tony Bellew in the UK in 2016, but I will make up for it this time and win it at home in front of my president [Felix Tshisekedi], my parents and fellow countrymen. But I will dedicate my victory to South Africa for what it did for me.

"I hope to meet President Ramaphosa and say 'thank you' before I embark on a tour around the African continent, because I am in this fight for our continent."

Makabu is excited that this time around a Congolese boxer is involved in the "Rumble in the Jungle".

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