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But Makabu, aged 34, was brutally knocked out in the third round after being hit by Bellew’s lethal left hook. It was Makabu’s last career defeat, winning nine since then, beating Poland’s Michal Cieslak, 32, for the vacant WBC belt in January 2020.
The 31-year-old Canelo won belts from Light Middleweight to Light Heavyweight. His heaviest career win was for the WBO title at 79.3kg after beating Sergey Kovalev in November 2019.
But Canelo soon moved back to Super Middleweight and gave up his newly won WBO Light Heavyweight belt. The Mexican superstar is now the undisputed Super Middleweight champion in just 11 months and four fights.
Wins over Callum Smith, 31, Avni Yildirim, 30, Billy Joe Saunders, 32, and most recently Caleb Plant, 29, made him win and retain the belt. Talk quickly turned to what could happen next for Canelo, who is currently a free agent.
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His coach and manager Eddy Reynoso named Artur Beterbiev, 36, Dmitry Bivol, 30, Jermall Charlo, 31, and David Benavidez, 24, as potential options for Canelo’s challenger. Promoter Eddie Hearn revealed Bellew had personally warned him about Makabu’s powers. “I think it’s a dangerous fight,” Hearn told iFL TV.
“I spoke to Tony Bellew – who could look very good in a few months if this happens – and he said Makabu is a great hitter and very strong,” continued Hearn.
“I like the fight against Makabu. I think it’s a dangerous fight. I think it’s an exciting fight and as I said, Saul and Eddy are interested in making history. They had no interest in having a normal, boring fight. Every fight must have meaning.”