Boxing fans on Sunday evening at Goodison Park will witness what has been billed as the ‘Real Life Rocky Story’. A WBC title fight between Tony Bellew and Ilunga Makabu. A fight Makabu’s trainer Johnney Roye believes is going to be explosive; “Both their records would suggest this is the kind of fight you can’t afford to blink” he insists.
Much has been made of Makabu’s punching power. A 19-1 record (his only defeat registered on his debut) is impressive enough. Throw in the fact that 18 of those victories have come by way of stoppage would suggest that Makabu’s power is legitimate.
Roye however, believes that his fighter’s knockout record overshadows his boxing ability, “He doesn’t load up, especially in sparring and on pad work. He’s not loading up looking for power. He’s a very good boxer. The fact that he’s not loading up makes the shot get their quicker, he’s harder to read.”
Representing the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Makabu has never fought in the United Kingdom until now. Based primarily in South Africa for the majority of his fights, the recent the link up with MGM Manchester’s Johnney Roye may at first seem surprising. However, the newly formed training arrangement is due to an African connection that was established in early 2013 and has remained in place ever since.
Working the corner of Matty Clarkson for his fight against Tshepang Mohale in Johannesburg, Roye arrived a few weeks ahead of the fight and got to know the local fighters. Since that trip he has trained a number of African fighters who have relocated to his gym.
“There’s not that many big promoters, there’s good promoters, but there’s not that many. So there’s a surplus of requirements, that’s the reason why people such as myself can offer some boxers advantages that other promoters can’t offer them, because they can only do so much. There are so many good fighters just looking for an opportunity” Johnney explains.
It was through his fighter Michael Ramabeletsa that contact with Makabu was originally made. Makabu first came to the gym just over three months ago to view the facilities on offer, have a chat and a few training sessions. “We got on well, had a good connection and that’s just grown in training.”
As for the first training camp, Johnney couldn’t be happier. “Camp has been fantastic, everything I’ve asked he’s done. I can’t fault him. In camp he’s been a pleasant student. He’s improving, just adding to what he’s already got. It was a short camp for us, so we weren’t trying to re-invent the wheel. We were just trying to make what he does more dynamic”.
Tune in to Sky Sports 1 on Sunday evening to witness what is sure to be a classic encounter.by