Los Angeles - Ilunga Makabu retained his World Boxing Council cruiserweight world title with a split-decision victory over Thabiso Mchunu in Warren, Ohio, on Sunday morning (SA Time).
Democratic Republic of Congo's Makabu beat the South African challenger for the second time, after stopping him in the 11th round back in 2015 in Durban.
This time it was a close, strategic bout with two judges scoring it in favor of Makabu, 115-113 and 116-112, and the third judge seeing it 115-113 for Mchunu.
"I already beat Thabiso the first time and did it again," said Makabu, who improved to 29-2 with 25 knockouts. "I didn't come for a knockout. I just came to box."
Mchunu, who fell to 23-6 with 13 knockouts, was angry at the result, shoving Makabu aside after the fight.
Makabu made the second defense of the title he won in 2020, and he could find himself making his next title defense against Mexican superstar Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in May.
Alvarez got WBC approval last year to fight Makabu, which would require a two-division leap from his current undisputed super middleweight championship but give him a shot at becoming a five-division champion.
But Alvarez (57-1-2 with 39 knockouts) has other options. He could put his super middleweight title on the line against middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, who would move up in weight.
Or Alvarez could take on light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol.
Nevertheless, Makabu made it clear he wants Alvarez.
"My next fight (is) with Saul CA-NE-LO -- I'm going to box and knock you out," he said.