Chilemba’s Chance or Sergey’s Cinch?

By Marc Livitz on April 29, 2016
Chilemba’s Chance or Sergey’s Cinch?
On Monday, July 11, Kovalev will face Isaac Chilemba in Sergey's homeland of Russia.

What if by some stroke of luck Chilemba catches lightning in a bottle in the form of a right cross out of nowhere?

As the initial third of 2016 winds down, there are two (give or take) big matches to be made which will undoubtedly fixate much of the boxing public. We’ll eagerly await, whether we pony up the dough to watch or not, the result of the showdown next weekend in Las Vegas between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Amir “King” Khan. Most expect Alvarez to triumph, either by stoppage or a convincing margin by the numbers. This could conceivably set up a titanic mega bout between Canelo and “GGG” Gennady Golovkin, perhaps sometime in the fall.

A few clicks higher on the poundage ladder brings us to the light heavyweight division, which of course now has its own subplots and twists as well. On one side is unbeaten American, Andre “S.O.G.” Ward, who recently dispatched Sullivan Barrera by a wide margin in Oakland last month. Ring rust didn’t seem to hinder Ward after sporadic appearances due to bouts of a different nature, most notably with his promoters and handlers. The second fight for which so many clamor is one between the aforementioned Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) and light heavyweight grand master, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev.

A few nights ago, Gennady Golovkin took longer to walk to the ring than break a sweat in easily pounding Dominic Wade en route to a second round knockout win in Los Angeles. During the HBO televised contest, viewers may have caught a glimpse of Kovalev in the crowd as well as learn that his next opponent had already been determined. On Monday, July 11, Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) will face Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba in Sergey’s homeland of Russia. The DIVS Palace of Competitive Sports in Ekaterinburg will play host to the event which will kick off the International Industry Trade Fair known as “INNOPROM-2016.”

It carries as its sponsor the Russian Copper Company, owned by Igor Altushkin, who at last check has a net worth of around $1.6 billion. Money really talks, drives as well as flies in a country which isn’t exactly known for its forthright distribution of wealth or equality. Somehow, the setup feels more like a mere exhibition of Kovalev’s sheer dominance of the division in addition to Mother Russia’s desire to show that she’s come a long way since “The Miracle on Ice.”

Love it or loathe it, Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs) is relishing the chance at crushing the “Krusher,” the evening’s main attraction. “You wouldn’t believe the joy I felt when I heard about this opportunity,” said Chilemba on an international media conference call Wednesday afternoon.

“I feel no pressure because it’s all on him. He’s the one fighting at home and he needs to show his people what he’s made of. I don’t care where the fight is. I’d fight him in his own house,” he said. Such brimming confidence is commonplace with the majority of fighters, especially the ones who’ve been given a shot at greatness.

Isaac felt in his heart that he’d done enough to best Eleider Alvarez last November in the final eliminator match for the WBC light heavyweight title, but it was not to be. He suffered a tough majority decision loss. Still, the South African fighter found solace in defeat and found it to be the key to securing a contest against one of the most dangerous fighters in all of boxing. One thing on his mind might possibly be what took place in Ekaterinburg in December of 2011. Sergey Kovalev found himself in the midst of a light heavyweight throwdown with another Russian, Roman Simakov.

For the most part, Kovalev was leagues ahead of Simakov in terms of boxing ability but most notably, power and the ability to inflict pain as well as lasting damage. After being thoroughly beaten for the lot of seven uneven rounds, Simakov kneeled upon the canvas in a surrendering fashion and was counted out. He had to be removed from the ring by medical staff as he fell unconscious. Three days later, he was dead. Chilemba doesn’t seem to be fazed a bit with the idea of facing Kovalev in the same locale as Simakov’s untimely end.

“Whatever happened at that time will not happen this time,” said the South African contender. “I think the pressure is on him because he knows what happened the last time he fought there. But for me, I don’t care what happened there last time. It doesn’t cross my mind at all.”

Strong words emanating from a strong willed fighter. Ultimately, will it matter? Could anything stand in the way of a mega fight when enough money is potentially on the table? There’s still oceans of cash to be made in the fall even if Canelo Alvarez was to suffer a shock defeat to Amir Khan. He’d be viewed as a tough warrior taking no easy paths back to ring in facing Golovkin, much like he did a few years ago when he was taken to school and back by Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in a bout which many knew would be a wash for Floyd. Canelo wasn’t ready and it showed, yet he came back and fought Alfredo Angulo and Erislandy Lara, respectively.

Similarly, what if by some stroke of luck Chilemba catches lightning in a bottle in the form of a right cross out of nowhere? Remember, for example when it happened to Lennox Lewis at the hands of Hasim Rahman just over fifteen years ago? Likewise, remember when Oscar De La Hoya stepped up to middleweight to take a shot at the undisputed champion of the time, Bernard Hopkins? Firstly, Oscar had to get past German Felix Strum. Most agree that Sturm handily won the contest and all agree that Oscar’s shape wasn’t that of a championship fighter. Sturm didn’t knock out De La Hoya, so Oscar was given the nod. We of course remember how his outing with Hopkins went.

Things happen and it’s what keeps the sport alive at times. Should Kovalev lose, would the defeat be enough to shut down the possibility of a super fight with either Andre Ward or even Adonis Stevenson? Only time will tell, so we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy.

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  1. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN 07:11am, 04/30/2016

    I must break you.

  2. Koolz 05:50pm, 04/29/2016

    I like the fight but I have to be honest here Kovalev will destroy him.
    Ko or TKO. 
    If Chilemba isn’t careful he could be out of there by the fourth round.
    I don’t really see this as a test of Kovalev he even though he is fighting in Russia again.

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