Sergey Kovalev vs Isaac Chilemba
BY KID HERSH
HBO World Championship Boxing from Ekaterinburg, Russia, featuring Sergey Kovalev (29-0-1, 26KO's) vs Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10KO's) on a rare Monday night broadcast.
Chilemba is supposed to be a tuneup for Kovalev's upcoming fight this fall against Andre Ward in a superfight that the fans have been waiting for. In the first round Chilemba was creating distance on Kovalev fairly well by using his jab early on in the round. Kovalev was not really pressing hard until near the end of the first when he was pursuing his man and looking to unload the right hand. A left hook before the bell sounded to end the round looked like it may have buckled the legs of Chilemba. In the second round Chilemba focused his attack more on the body as Kovalev was still looking to unload his right hand but cannot seem to land it flush. In the third round Kovalev seemed to give up on trying to land the right hand to the chin and instead started to attack Chilemba's body, which was open because he was protecting his chin from the Krushers power. Chilemba would start to have success in the fourth round as he got his jab pumping and even landed a beauty of a right hand with thirty seconds left in the round that was flush to the tip of the chin. it snapped Kovalev's head and you could tell Chilemba got some respect from it. Respect that he didn't have to start the fight. The fifth round showed even a bit more success for Chilemba as Kovalev could not land his right hand still. He managed to land a couple of left hooks but it started to feel like it was Chilemba's type of fight and not Kovalev's as he followed the South African around the ring and was not unloading shots as he typically does while pursuing. The difference is that normally his opponent is just trying to get away from him but Chilemba is actually boxing his man here and creating distance, not just running. The sixth round saw Chilemba gaining even more momentum, landing a beautiful left hook a little over a minute into the round that snapped Kovalev's head violently. It did not hurt Kovalev but it was in my eyes the best punch of the fight. In the seventh round Chilemba was still using his jab expertly until at the end of the round Kovalev landed a left hook to the body (high on the rib cage) that hurt Chilemba. He made the cardinal sin of backing up with his hands down and Kovalev blasted him with a right hand. This is the first right hand that I have seen land flush for the Kovalev in the fight thus far and it snapped Chilemba's chin, sending him the canvas. He was hurt, but he managed to make it through the remainder of the round by clinching. The eighth round was another big one for Kovalev as he controlled the majority of the round with Chilemba looking to go back to boxing and creating distance. Kovalev hurt Chilemba again in the final thirty seconds of the round from a stiff jab up top after going back to the body right before. The ninth round was an odd one in my book as Kovalev seemed to either take his foot off the gas or was frustrated but hiding it well. He did not throw much of any punches at all despite having the momentum going from the previous two rounds in hurting Chilemba. It would almost appear as if Kovalev took his foot off the gas but it is hard to say. In any case he continued the momentum and putting rounds in the bank, perhaps hurting Chilemba again at the end of the tenth round. The fight wouuld end up going the distance with Chilemba opting to stand and trade with Kovalev in the twelfth and final round. Great showing for Chilemba here as he gained a lot of respect despite losing the clear decision. Kovalev showed some problems that I think Andre Ward will take advantage of - such as creating distance and eliminating the right hand of Kovalev to blunt his output.