Kovalev and Chilemba’s War of Words

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Kovalev and Chilemba’s War of Words

Sergey Kovalev vs. Isaac Chilemba will be televised in the U.S. Monday night on HBO.
Sergey Kovalev vs. Isaac Chilemba will be televised in the U.S. Monday night on HBO.

On Monday, June 11, at DIVS Sports Palace in Ekaterinburg, Russia, WBA Undisputed light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs), the knockout artist from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, by way of Kopeysk, Russia, defends his WBA/WBO/IBF titles against WBA #12 ranked Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs), from Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa, by way of Blantyre, Malawi.

It should be a good fight while it lasts, but the fight most fight fans want to see is between Kovalev and Andre Ward (since Adonis Stevenson appears to be out of the running). Kovalev-Ward has date, November 19. HBO Pay-Per-View will handle the telecast. And the spanking new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, is lined up and ready to go.

If “Krusher” crushes Chilemba, who has never been stopped, and Ward gets by Alexander Brand on August 5, we can expect the showdown in the fall.

Chilemba, meanwhile, appears to be seething.

He was unhappy when the date for Kovalev-Ward was announced. Chilemba knows he’s playing second fiddle. He’s ranked where he is ranked. He felt taken for granted, overlooked. He felt like a stepping stone…and Chilemba is no stepping stone. The former African Boxing Union super middleweight and light heavyweight champion has faced plenty of tough competition. But Kovalev is in a class all his own.

“Clearly they see me as a stepping stone and that’s total disrespect,” said Chilemba. “They are looking past me when we have not fought which means they see me as just a sparring partner. I am now going out there with more reason to beat this guy.

“I am going to teach him some manners and in the process make history by becoming the first African fighter to win three titles in one night.”

Speaking with Yuri Tarantin from Allboxing.ru, Kovalev said, “Nobody has ever knocked Chilemba out. I want become the first. Chilemba is a very awkward opponent. He likes to work as a counterpuncher. He does not like to get aggressive during the course of the fight and never steps into the fire. That makes him dangerous. I don’t want to overlook Chilemba, because I have to maintain that mental focus of properly dealing with him in order to earn the right to box with Andre Ward.”

The fight is in Russia, which gives Kovalev an additional edge. But Chilemba is a road warrior. He likes nothing better than to spoil homecomings.

“As a professional I have never fought at home in Malawi,” said Chilemba from his training camp. “I have fought mostly here in South Africa which is a foreign land for me. I have also fought in the UK, Canada and the US. That has made me who I am.

“I believe the pressure is on him. He is fighting at home. I love fighting in someone’s home. That is where I can prove to the world that I am not just a fighter in the ring but I am fighter in my spirit and my soul. He needs to show his home people what he is made of. I don’t care what Kovalev is made of. We know his weaknesses and we know his strengths.  I don’t care where we are fighting. I am happy to fight anyone, anywhere – in their backyard, in their own house. I don’t care. I can go to someone else’s hometown and defeat them in their backyard.”

If confidence alone won fights, Kovalev and Chilemba will both have their hands raised at the final bell.

“This is a new chapter for me,” Chilemba added. “This is turning a new page. We have been chasing this dream for a long time. I came up short three times. This is not an eliminator fight. I am going straight for three world tiles. In order to win this fight, I believe I needed to be here. I needed to train here. I have all of the spirit right here. This is where it all started. I have got everything I need at my fingertips.”

Sergey Kovalev vs. Isaac Chilemba will be televised in the United States at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT (same day tape-delayed) exclusively on HBO.

This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.


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