Malawian boxer Isaac Chilemba lost to Russian Sergey Kovalev on Monday night through points — 117-110, 116-111 and 118-109 in Ekaterinburg, Russia during their WBA Super, WBO and IBF world light-heavyweight titles.
But media reports suggest that Chilemba forced Kovalev to go the distance for just the fourth time in his career by recovering from a seventh round knockdown to survive up to the 12th round, in which the judges may have been slightly harsh in their decision.
The reports say although the Russian crowd tried to roar their man to a last-gasp stoppage, Chilemba stood firm to bring in an assessment from the judges that may have been slightly harsh.
According to espn.go.com, Chilemba proved a stubborn opponent and that at times he technically outshone the Russian.
“Chilemba, 29, had lost his previous fight — controversially on points to Eleider Alvarez in November — in a WBC world title eliminator. Despite that setback, Chilemba still got his shot at Kovalev’s WBA, IBF and WBO world light-heavyweights titles and proved a stubborn opponent,” reports espn.go.com.
“Chilemba (24-4-2, 10 KOs) recovered from a seventh round knockdown to force Kovalev to go the distance for just the fourth time in his career. Only Bernard Hopkins had managed to go to points with Kovalev in eight previous world title fights after a disappointing and unimaginative display from the Russian.”
It is reported that Chilemba was having some degree of success in ducking under the Russian’s assaults and although two firm Kovalev right hands drew applause from the crowd, Chilemba landed intelligently to get on the scoreboard in the third.
“The visitor’s corner — marshalled by female trainer Jodi Solomon in the absence of Buddy McGirt — were further encouraged at the start of round four as Chilemba frustrated his man with his subtle movement and long but pacy jabs,” the report said.
“Kovalev cut a slightly disconsolate figure at the start the fifth and, although he tried to step on the gas immediately, he was reminded by a lightning Chilemba counter that more guile was required.
“Russian fans were eventually awoken by a decent Kovalev jab but for the second time in the session, Chilemba responded with a neat right uppercut on the inside. The champion then registered a right uppercut-to-left hook combination but had to eat a crisp Chilemba left hook before again turning the tide in the following round.
“Chilemba’s work-rate began to drop in the seventh round as Kovalev sought to reward his loyal supporters with more to cheer about. Hope came quickly, as their hero teed his man up with a vicious left to the body and then uncorked a textbook one-two. Chilemba collapsed in stages before rising to see out the final 20 seconds of the round.
“The eighth was not initially the fireworks show that onlookers expected but Kovalev finally found the target again with a trio of stinging lefts followed by some one-way traffic. Chilemba gamely made it to the ninth and may even have pinched that round; earning at least a sign of recognition from his opponent.
“Kovalev’s own energy levels appeared to be dipping with Chilemba re-establishing some semblance of rhythm early in the 10th, and there was an audible gasp when Kovalev visited the canvas having slipped. Left and right hooks to the body saw Chilemba narrow the gap; only to appear to require a breather in an uneventful penultimate round.
“The final session began with a respectful touch of hands and one of its more remarkable moments was the two wrestling each other to the floor. Although the crowd tried to roar their man to a last-gasp stoppage, Chilemba stood firm to bring in an assessment from the judges that may have been slightly harsh,” the report said.
The victory now sets up a big bout for Kovalev against American Andre Ward at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on November 19. The undefeated former super-middleweight world champion Ward (29-0, 15 KO) will have to overcome Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) on August 6 in his own interim bout before the fight with Kovalev is confirmed.
“The fight with Ward has become a more interesting prospect after Florida-based Kovalev failed to dominate the first half of the fight against a plucky challenger,” the report said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :