Sergey Kovalev vs. Isaac Chilemba tonight on HBO
By Patrick McHugh: IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) is a big favorite to defeat challenger Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs) in their fight tonight at the DIVS Ekaterinburg, Russia. Bovada has Kovalev at -10000, and Chilemba at +1600.
It’s going to take a miracle effort by Chilemba for him to pull off the upset against the bigger punching Kovalev. There’s a lot at stake for this fight tonight for both guys, especially Kovalev He’s got a fight scheduled against unbeaten Andre Ward on November 19 on HBO pay-per-view.
Kovalev must win tonight against Chilemba to get to that Ward fight, which will make him a lot of money. The Kovalev-Ward fight will be taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s that match-up the boxing world wants to see, as it’ll be the 33-year-old Kovalev’s first real test of his seven-year pro career.
It will also be Ward’s first tough test since his narrow win over Carl Froch in 2011. Ward has fought rarely since that fight and mostly against guys that didn’t have much of a chance against him going into the fight. Kovalev is a different story. He has a great chance of beating Ward due to his punching power and the fact that he’s been active through his entire career.
HBO World Championship Boxing will be televising the Kovalev-Chilemba fight on tape delay tonight at 10:15 ET/PT. It wouldn’t make sense for HBO to televise live as it happens, because few boxing fans would be home to watch it during the day. In hindsight, it was a bad decision for Kovalev and his promoters to have the fight staged on a Monday night. However, it’s possible that HBO didn’t have the available fight dates for them to make this fight.
“I am sure that Chilemba recognizes how big this opportunity is for him, and he’ll definitely try to use every opportunity to spoil my November party with Andre Ward,” said Kovalev to ESPN.com. “He will step into the ring charged and ready to bring a big fight. I will have to show some teeth in order to win. My motivation to defend my titles in front of the home crowd cannot be any bigger, that I can assure you all about.”
— Sergey Kovalev (@KrusherKovalev) July 11, 2016
The Russian Kovalev will have the home crowd cheering him on, but he hardly needs that for him to beat a fighter as over-matched against Chilemba. This is Kovalev’s fight to lose. He’s the better all-around fighter, and he shouldn’t have any problems turning back the threat from Chilemba. ovaev just needs to make sure he uses what brought him here. His power is Kovalev’s main asset going for him. He needs to make sure that he doesn’t get caught up in a boxing match against Chilemba because that’s not a fight that he can win.
It’s too bad that Kovalev doesn’t have a better opponent for his home coming fight than Chilemba. A fight between Kovalev and Russian Artur Beterbiev or Oleksandr Gvozdyk would be ideal. Beterbiev has already beaten Kovalev in the amateur ranks, and it would be a good fight between them. Gvozdyk, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist from Ukraine, is someone that Kovalev could fight down the line. Gvozdyk’s promoter Bob Arum believes he’ll be able to beat Kovalev when he’s ready to match him up against him in the future. It’s likely that Arum will wait a couple more years before he makes that fight in order to increase the chances of success for the now 29-year-old Gvozdyk.
“He’s a boxer not a fighter. That makes him an uncomfortable boxer for me. I need more skills to have victory over Chilemba. He is very motivated because I have three titles. This makes him very dangerous. He wants them. I don’t think about Ward right now. Right now, it’s time for me to think about Chilemba. If my victory comes over Chilemba and it is a 12-round decision, it would be a very good experience for me for my next fight,” said Kovalev.
Chilemba likes to stay on the outside and jab and land single shots. He’s not someone that is going to go after Kovalev. Chilemba’s passive, counter-punching style of fighting has let to him losing to Eleider Alvarez, Tony Bellew and Willbeforce Shihepo in the past. Chilemba didn’t do enough in those fights to have a chance to win.