Winner will face Makabu title fight

Mchunu faces Tishchenko in the 'final eliminator'

Thabiso Mchunu defeating Daniel Venter during their ABU Cruiserweight Title at Emperors Palace in Ekurhuleni.
Thabiso Mchunu defeating Daniel Venter during their ABU Cruiserweight Title at Emperors Palace in Ekurhuleni.
Image: Antonio Muchave

Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu must consider himself one of the few lucky boxers in the country. Having lost in his first bid to earn the rights to challenge for the then vacant WBC cruiserweight title after being knocked out in the 11th round by Ilunga “Junior” Makabu in their elimination fight in 2015, Mchunu is right up there in the contention to challenge for that iconic green and gold belt.

Mchunu has been mandated by the Mexico-based organisation to face Evgeny Tishchenko in what the WBC referred to as the “final eliminator” on March 27 with the winner getting rights to challenge Makabu. Mchunu is rated at No1, while the Russian is yet to convince the WBC’s ratings committee. His name does not appear in the top 40 list of the contenders for the WBC cruiserweight title.

Mchunu, who fought his way back and even won the WBC silver belt, is now rated at No1 for Makabu’s title. The WBC’s championship committee has mandated Mchunu and Tishchenko to battle it out for the rights to challenge Makabu. The winner on March 27 will earn the right to challenge Makabu – the Congolese – who is trained in SA by Damien Durandt.

On paper, the upcoming fight between Mchunu and Tishchenko is a mismatch that should not have been sanctioned and that is based on everything – longevity, fight records and quality opponents and fights. Mchunu, 32, has been around since 2007 and has fought against top names in the business and that include “Fast” Eddie Chambers, Olanrewaju Duradola, Makabu, Oleksandr Usyk, Thomas Oosthuizen and Denis Lebedev.

Mchunu has been involved in almost 20 championship fights and has boxed 185 rounds with 20 wins, 13 knockouts and five losses. He’s been stopped three times. Tishchenko, 29, is an accomplished amateur who has since won all his eight fights in the professional ranks.

Tishchenko won gold medals at the 2016 Olympics, 2015 World Championships, and 2015 and 2017 European Championship. He also won silver at the 2013 World Championships. The boxer has a degree in physical education and he works as a police officer in Saint Petersburg. Tishchenko’s last fight was in March at the same venue for his upcoming fight. One thing is certain and that the Russians will not stage this fight for Mchunu to win. They want his top ratings for their boxer.

Mchunu’s trainer Sean Smith said the Russians would not invest in Tishchenko if they don’t think he has the potential to become something.

“Look at his achievements in the amateurs, you will see why the Russians have so much faith in him. I am not looking beyond this fight; I want us to take care of this situation then think about the next move. I want to get a WBC belt in my career as a trainer. We are very excited and grateful to get the opportunity to be involved in the elimination fight. We are going over there to win,” Smith said.

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