Ilunga “Junior” Makabu’s trainer Damien Durandt does not think issues with promoter Don King were a problem for his fighter’s preparations for the bout against Michal Cieslak for the vacant WBC World Cruiserweight Title.
The fight was scheduled for January 25 but Makabu’s international promoter King had an issue with it as he was not involved in the organizing of the fight. This led to the promoter’s legal team sending a letter stating that they would not allow for the bout to take place.
The issue has now been resolved and Makabu will face Cieslak in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Friday (January 31).
“The Don King issue was not a distraction for Junior whatsoever. Our main focus was what was ahead and that’s Michal Cieslak. We put our focus into that. We didn’t allow it to disturb us,” Durandt told 10 Count.
“We let Junior’s manager Tarik Saadi handle that with Don King with his team and everything was rectified and sorted. I told Junior his biggest focus needs to be on the fight and what’s ahead of us and what we need to work on.”
This is the second time Makabu attempts to win the WBC strap after losing to Tony Bellew in 2016.
“Yes this is Junior’s second opportunity at the WBC World title. Some fighters don’t even get the opportunity to even fight for it once so he understands how lucky he is. But he has also put in the hard work to get to where he is,” said Durandt.
“Everyone forgets that Junior travelled twice to Russia and knocked out (Dmitry) Kudryashov in his home country. Came back and beat (Aleksei) Papin in his home country. So Junior is well-deserving of the place where he is at now to fight for the WBC World Title. He said to me he will never let it slip a second time and he shouldn’t have let it slip the first time. So he will do anything and everything to make sure that he is world champion. He will put it all in the ring to make sure that he is crowned the WBC World Champion. It’s a dream of his, it’s always been a dream of his since the very early days of his career. He wants to achieve this. For me I don’t think anything will stop him from achieving this.”
With the fight being in the DRC, Makabu is expected to have considerable home crowd support on fight night.
“Yes it’s an advantage for Junior to fight in Kinshasa but I think you’ve seen over all the years Junior has travelled for his fights. It has never fazed him. It could be in Russia, it could be in Germany, France or wherever the fight may be Junior performs. So yes it is an advantage. I think he wants to make his people feel proud. It’s the first world title in 45 years to be staged in Kinshasa and he’s one of their own,” the trainer said.