The Big Question: Burns v Di Rocco, Bellew v Makabu - who wins?

Boxing Monthly
27/05/2016 10:02am

This weekend sees two world title fights take place in the UK. Tomorrow night Ricky Burns bids to become Scotland's first ever three-weight world champion when he takes on Italy's Michele Di Rocco for the WBA World super-lightweight title in Glasgow. Twenty-four hours later and attention turns to Goodison Park, the home of Tony Bellew's beloved Everton Football Club. The British cruiserweight aims to win his first ever world title when he squares off against the dangerous and hard hitting Ilunga Makabu for the WBC World cruiserweight title. The Boxing Monthly online team gave us their thoughts on how they see both fights going.

This weekend's 'world' title action involving Tony Bellew and Ricky Burns is hard to call.

The bookmakers, who aren't often wrong, make Burns a marginal favourite versus Michele Di Rocco and Bellew a slight outsider versus Ilunga Makabu. I've got a hunch that they may have miscalculated though - I can see home support roaring Bellew to a narrow and hard-fought victory, possibly by late stoppage or points, while I fear that Burns is past his best and Di Rocco may nick a close points decision. – Luke G. Williams.

It’s been a while since Burns truly shone. Despite that, he has always been in good shape and has a wealth of experience at international level. It’s also worth pointing out that losses to the likes of Crawford, Zlaticcian and Figueroa Jr. are hardly something to be ashamed of, all being very tough operators at the elite level.

The same can’t really be said for Di Rocco who, whilst boasting an impressive record at first glance, has never really gone beyond European level. Di Rocco might have that extra gear but he hasn't displayed it yet, but in front of a partisan Scottish crowd, I just see Burns scoring a wide points victory.

This is a very tough fight to call. Bellew has home advantage, and Matchroom is very good at matching its fighters. Makabu has looked sensational at times, coming up the hard way away from the limelight. Perhaps this can be the moment he arrives.

Bellew has an obvious height advantage and underrated technical skill. His victory over Masternak showed that he does belong at the upper echelons of the division. If Bellew can keep Makabu off him with a jab and use his size advantage, then he can certainly win a points victory. Unfortunately, however, I expect Makabu to find a way in during the second period of the fight and pick up a late stoppage victory. – James Oddy.

Thanks to the actions of Adrien Broner, Burns is fighting for the proper WBA belt and he'll not get a better chance to become a three-weight champ. It's by no means a foregone conclusion though, even in Scotland. I think it will go to points and I think it will be close: IF Burns can rally with the help of the home crowd then he's done well - but I fear the Italian is being slightly overlooked - he's no mug!

Makabu is no walkover (some questioned the real reason Cleverly pulled out of their scheduled clash) and Bellew will have to be on top form. The fight being at home and Bellew knowing this is probably last-chance saloon means that I see him overcoming some rocky moments (pardon the pun) and claiming the titles on points - but he'll know he's been in battle. – Colin Harris.

After Ricky Burns recent run of results (three wins in his last seven), I think it’s fair to say that he’s a very lucky man to be getting a shot at a vacant world title, especially on home soil.

Like Bellew he’s up against someone with a good pedigree who wouldn’t have had much experience fighting in an atmosphere like the one he’ll experience in Glasgow tomorrow night. Di Rocco’s record is solid if not spectacular and I expect him to give Ricky Burns problems, but I think this will be a case of Ricky having seen it all before, he’s boxed at a much higher level than Di Rocco and will do enough to win a comfortable decision.

Burns by decision.

Bellew has always flattered to deceive when stepping up to highest level, every title he has won has been vacant and the feeling when this fight was announced was that this fight was another step too far for Bellew.

Makabu is a dangerous man, a southpaw with some serious power and a winning run spanning since losing his debut fight, Bellew has his hands full. I think what balances this out is the fight being at Goodison Park, Makabu would’ve never fought in front of anything like he’ll experience on Sunday, Bellew in turn will thrive off the atmosphere, couple that with Makabu’s inactivity and the pick is for Bellew to nick it on a majority decision

Bellew by decision. – Callum Rudge.

When looking at the odds for this fight I was actually quite surprised how close they were as, to me, everything points to a unanimous decision win for Burns.

Di Rocco is a decent European level operator but no more than that in my opinion so unless Burns is an absolute spent bullet he should have more than enough to see off the Italian and of course the fantastic crowd will provide any tonic if necessary.

As for the cruisers home advantage shouldn't come in to play as Makabu has fought on the road throughout his whole career and Bellew cannot afford to let his emotions get the better of him.

The theory of Bellew boxing and moving for 12 rounds to take a points win has been put across by a few people on social media this week and whilst it's certainly feasible I remain unconvinced he has the necessary boxing IQ to do this.

Makabu's victory over Mchunu was highly impressive and because the KO came in the second half of the contest his stamina can't be questioned, and his power is without doubt for real during the whole 12 rounds.

The early stages will probably be rather cagey with Bellew looking to avoid Makabu's booming left hand but I don't think he can stay out the way for the whole fight and at some point Makabu will land enough shots to prevail by stoppage. – Marcus Bellinger.

Makabu is understandably the favourite but I believe Bellew is capable of rising to the occasion. Dave Coldwell will likely arm Bellew with a sensible game plan, even so the Evertonian will have to endure some rocky patches against the Congolese puncher. I can see Bellew doing enough to claim a close, possibly controversial, decision.

Burns will never have a better opportunity to become the first Scotsman to win world titles at three different weights. Former Olympian Di Rocco may not be a member of 'Murderers Row', but he's technically sound, with a good jab and decent work-rate. If Burns can win the battle of the jabs, he'll likely win the fight. – John A. MacDonald.

Ricky Burns has been presented with a golden opportunity to make a bit of history but this isn't a foregone conclusion.

Ricky's performances of late have improved, particularly his showing against Omar Figueroa last year, and he needs to take that display and bring it to The Hydro tomorrow night. He needs a fast start with constant pressure forcing the Italian on to the back foot and on the ropes so Ricky can wail away to the body. In now way can he let Di Rocco get into his own rhythm because if he does I think Ricky's confidence, which has been an issue, will dip and it will be another hard night at the office. However, Burns knows what's on the line here and the deafening crowd will play their part to help Burns gain a tight decision.

Tony Bellew isn't doing things the easy way to win a world title. Travels to Canada to take on Adonis Stevenson for the WBC light heavyweight title and now takes on one of the most feared cruiserweights in the world. Given Makabu's background and where he's fought in the past I don't see the Goodison Park crowd fazing him.

If Bellew gets into a dog fight with this guy then he loses but I think his trainer Dave Coldwell will have it drummed into him to do everything smart and stay out of harm's way to try and box to a points win.

I think Bellew is going to get nailed with some shots that will make his fans look the other way, and I do think he will get dropped but I do believe, whether this is my heart ruling my head, that he will get enough rounds in the bank early and do enough down the stretch in between the scares to gain a tight split decision victory. - Shaun Brown.