Don King celebrated his 92nd birthday a few weeks late in Miami by promoting a fight card featuring big men landing big punches.
In the main event, Noel Mikaelyan of Armenia (26-2, 11 KOs) denied Illunga Junior Makabu of The Congo (29-3, 25 KOs) his goal to win back the WBC World Cruiserweight title he lost to Badou Jack.
In a stunning outcome, Mikaelyan scored a second-round TKO victory over Makabu to become the new WBC World Cruiserweight Champion. Referee Gene Del Biano waved off the fight at the one-minute mark of round three.
🆕👑 Noel Mikaelian is your NEW WBC World Cruiserweight Champ, stopping Ilunga Makabu in the third round.
— FITE (@FiteTV) November 5, 2023
Mikaelyan was the aggressor from the opening bell. Makabu was taken down by a right hand in the second round and ate several more right hands from the German-born Armenian. Makabu did his best to survive, fighting off the ropes.
Del Bianco asked the ringside physician to check Makabu before the third round. He only held Mikaelyan off for two more minutes. A hard right hook did the damage, followed by a flurry of punches as Makabu fell to the canvas. He struggled to get up, and Del Bianco called it a night for the former champion.
Noel Mikaelyan: “I didn't want to leave any doubts”
Mikaelyan had lost two disputed decisions, one to Marius Briedis in 2018 and an even closer loss to Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in 2017. He wasn't going to let his opportunity slip through his hands this time.
“I’m very happy about the fight. I didn’t expect the knockout so early, but I knew my hand would be raised at the end of the night,” said Mikaelyan. “This time, I didn’t want to leave any doubts, nothing.”
Mikaelyan said he had a great camp with trainer Pedro Diaz. “I'm the first German to win a title in America since Max Schmeling,” said Mikaelyan. Schemling was the first German and European heavyweight world champion after defeating Jack Sharkey at Yankee Stadium in 1930.
“I wasn’t nervous, I didn’t expect it so quick,” said the smiling Mikaelyan. He declined to call anyone out, saying he planned to celebrate his win. “Thank you to Don King for making this happen. Only in America!” said Mikaelyan.
Jack was named the WBC’s champion in recess as he pursues a title in his fourth division in the WBC’s bridgerweight division.
Jonathan Guidry Makes It An Early Night
In the co-main event, heavyweight Jonathan Guidry of New Orleans wore the LSU colors of purple and gold to the ring. Guidry efficiently handled Jesus Escalera of Colombia (19-1, 19 KOs) with ease for a knockout win.
It was a hard right hand over the top, causing Escalera to lose his equilibrium and take a knee to avoid more incoming fire. He didn’t rise in time to beat the count for a round 2 TKO win to Guidry at two minutes into the round. Guidry must have been in a hurry to see the LSU vs. Alabama football game in progress.
Cassius Chaney Takes Down Trevor Bryan in 7
Heavyweight “Charming” Cassius Chaney of Baltimore (23-1, 16 KOs) got his own eye-popping knockout, stopping Trevor Bryan of Albany, New York (22-2, 15 KOs) in the performance of his career for a seventh-round KO win.
Chaney was the aggressor from the opening bell, and his hard right hook couldn’t miss. He scored the fight’s first knockdown on a short counter right in the second round, dropping Bryan on his backside. He nearly ended the fight here but lacked time to work with.
Chaney rocked Bryan again in the following round and damaged or broke Bryan’s nose, leaving it bloody. Chaney kept up the pace with good conditioning thanks to his background as an NCAA basketball player at New Haven University.
Chaney continued to control the fight until his big chance came in round seven. He backed Bryan up against the ropes, and a final roundhouse right hand ended the bout.
Over in Miami on the Don King Boxing undercard👑
Cassius Chaney landed a crisp right hand in the 7th round that slept Trevor Bryan. 😱😱
— FITE (@FiteTV) November 5, 2023
Bryan remained on the canvas for more than five minutes as a neck brace was applied, and he was taken out of the ring on a stretcher. “I hope he makes a speedy recovery. Trevor’s a good guy. I hope you get home to your family safe, 100%,” said Chaney after the bout.
Chaney wins the vacant WBA North American heavyweight title.
On the undercard, lightweight Isaiah “The Icon” Riquelmy of Brandon, Florida (6-1, 4 KOs) wins a unanimous decision over Rondale Hubbert of Duluth, Minnesota (15-26-3, 9 KOs) over six rounds by scores of 60-54.
Corey Caad of San Antonio (5-4, 2 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Isiah Hart of Las Vegas (6-5-1, 4 KOs) in the super middleweight division.
It was a third-round TKO win for Alexander Castro of Colombia (13-1, 11 KOs) with a hard body shot to Hector Bobatilla of Mexico (9-17-1, 4 KOs) at super welterweight.
As part of the card, a ceremonial ten count was sounded for the late Colonel Bob Sheridan, who called many of Don King Promotions’ most famous bouts. Don King’s 92nd birthday was also honored with a video retrospective. “To the people, I’m most humbly grateful,” said King, who said he wants to be a “peace ambassador.”