Three months after promising to deliver a hometown fight for his most recent signee, Hall of Fame promoter Don King has now taken steps to block such an event.
A cease and desist letter from Don King Productions (DKP)_has been issued to the World Boxing Council (WBC), whom the Florida based promotional company claims has sanctioned a title fight involving Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu without its knowledge or consent.
The bout in question is a WBC “Silver” title fight between Makabu (26-2, 24KOs) and Poland’s Michal Cieslak (19-0, 13KOs), which is due to take place January 25 in Makabu’s birth country of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fight is listed on the WBC’s website, though with little other details provided—other than apparently not involving King in any capacity.
DKP signed Makabu to a promotional agreement last September. The announcement at the time came complete with the promise of having the cruiserweight serve as its centerpiece attraction in creating a 21st Century version of ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’, homage to the King-promoted superfight which saw the late Muhammad Ali recapture the heavyweight crown in an upset knockout of then-unbeaten George Foreman in 1974.
According to a notice sent by The Lewis Law Firm, Inc. to the WBC, it suggests that efforts have been made to stage such an event without the promoter’s involvement or consent.
“This firm serves as legal counsel to Mr. Don King, President and Don King Productions, Inc. (collectively "DKP"),” attorney Cornelius ‘Carl’ Lewis stated in a letter to the WBC and its president Mauricio Sulaiman on January 4, of which a copy has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “It has come to DKP’s attention that the World Boxing Council (“WBC”) is sanctioning an unauthorized bout between DKP’s fighter, Ilunga “Junior” Makabu (“Makabu”) and Michal Cieslak (“Cieslak”) (hereinafter, “Makabu v. Cieslak bout” or “the bout”) scheduled to take place on or about January 18, 2020 or January 25, 2020 in The Democratic Republic of The Congo, without DKP’s knowledge, consent, approval or permission.
“DKP is Makabu’s exclusive, world-wide promoter for any and all of Makabu’s professional boxing matches throughout the World and no one, other than DKP, is authorized to engage Makabu’s services.”
Makabu claimed the WBC’s Silver title with a knockout win over Dmitry Kudryashov last June on the road in Russia. The feat was followed up with a quick return, also in Russia where he scored a 12-round majority decision win over previously unbeaten Aleksi Pepin last August in chief support to Sergey Kovalev’s hometown headlining knockout win over Anthony Yarde.
The win over Pepin was the most recent enjoyed by Makabu, having since signed with King and—as is the case with any DKP fighter in modern day—now doomed to spend more time fighting in a courtroom than a boxing ring.
Should this bout move forward in some capacity, it will feature Cieslak in his toughest test to date. The 30-year old Polish contender has not fought since a 2nd round knockout of Olanrewaju Durodola last June, though he remains directly behind Makabu as the top two contenders for the vacant WBC cruiserweight title, with Latvia’s Mairis Briedis (26-1, 19KOs) as the sanctioning body’s “Diamond” champ.
For now, it appears that the next fight for either boxer will not involve the other if King and his legal team have final say.
“Demand is made upon the WBC to cancel the Makabu v. Cieslak bout and to make such cancellation public by noticing said cancellation on the WBC’s website,” demanded Lewis. “Since the WBC sanctioned this bout without DKP’s knowledge, DKP must conclude that the WBC communicated with others to arrange this bout so demand is made upon the WBC to immediately notify the person or persons the WBC communicated with in arranging this bout and inform them that the WBC is not sanctioning the Makabu v. Cieslak bout and that the bout is immediately cancelled.
“DKP further demands the WBC and others immediately cease and desist any and all actions or communications of any kind with Makabu. DKP has not and does not consent to Makabu’s participation in the Makabu v. Cieslak bout or any bout and has not and does not grant permission for anyone to engage Makabu’s services.”
Sulaiman was not in a position to comment to BoxingScene.com on the development. Makabu’s manager, Tarik Saadi did not respond to a message seeking comment as this goes to publish.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox