Light heavyweight Isaac Chilemba dropped a unanimous decision to Sergey Kovalev tonight in the latter's hometown of Ekaterinburg, Russia. Kovalev, who the Transnational Boxing Rankings rate as the number 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, holds three world championship straps. He is the number one contender for the linear light heavyweight championship.
Chilemba proved to be a tough opponent for Kovalev. He used constant movement to avoid Kovalev's vicious right hand. Kovalev said after the fight, "Target moves every time. His style is very uncomfortable for me." Chilemba jabbed effective and landed the right to the body without receiving a counter on numerous occasions.
Kovalev controlled center ring, and though he was outboxed for the majority of each round, a few powerful shots erased all of Chilemba's work nearly every time. Kovalev's power was the difference.
The Russian star possesses a thunderous jab and a scary right hand. Chilemba tip toed on a tightrope for the first six rounds until he fell in the seventh. Kovalev finally caught up with the crafty defensive fighter and landed a hellacious combination. A right punctuated the punishment. Chilemba fought with all of his heart to stay upright, but he stumbled backward and fell to the canvas.
Isaac rose, but his legs weren't sturdy. It seemed that, for the first time in his career, Isaac could be stopped. But he managed through and refused to run in the eighth. He landed a left hook and jabbed to win the first two minutes and 30 seconds of the eighth, but Kovalev won the round with another frightening combination. Somehow, Chilemba managed to remain on his feat.
Isaac fought well the rest of the way, but the outcome was no longer in doubt. Chilemba's jab and defense were world class. The man from Malawi can sometimes rely too much on those attributes, but he utilized the right to the body and left hooks to the head against Kovalev. Kovalev was simply too powerful and too aggressive. When the two traded, Kovalev's advantage in power was evident.
Roy Jones Jr. said of Isaac, "Chilemba is a puzzle you have to figure out. You might beat him, but you'll have to work for it." Kovalev won with scores of 118-109, 117-110, 116-111, but he had to work for it. The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the fight 117-110 for Chilemba.
Kovalev improves to 30-0-1 with 26 KOs. He faces Andre Ward in November in what is considered to be a superfight.
Chilemba became only the second fighter to go the full 12 rounds against Kovalev. Bernard Hopkins is the only other boxer to take Kovalev even past eight rounds, Isaac's record is now 24-4-2 with 10 KOs