Kovalev beats Chilemba in Russia
IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) outpointed Isaac Chilemba (24-4-2, 10 KOs) on Monday night at the DIVS Palace of Sports in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
The Russian warmed up for his November 19 clash with former super middleweight world champion Andre Ward by knocking down the challenger in the seventh round and earning scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 118-109. But the bout was a lot more competitive than what was expected.
From the opening bell, Kovalev was instantly on the front foot and was landing hard right hands in the early rounds.
But Malawi-born Chilemba moved smartly, countered and used the jab very well although he was prevented from having significant success because he didn’t have the punch to halt the home fighter’s aggression.
Kovalev began finding his range and rhythm in the fifth but was caught flush by a left hook in the sixth. Kovalev's biggest weapon is his right hand which Chilemba finally found out about in the seventh.
A right to the jaw left Chilemba staggering across the ropes and down for a count. The visitor bravely got up and survived the final 20 seconds of the round.
Kovalev found the target again with a series of solid shots in the eighth but he was beginning to tire and Chilemba fought back and did well in rounds nine and ten.
However, Kovalev finished strong, with blood pouring from Chilemba's nose, but his renowned power punching could not force the stoppage that his home crowd wanted.
Chilemba is only the second fighter to go the full 12 rounds with Kovalev. Bernard Hopkins was the first in November 2014, which Kovalev won by unanimous decision.