By Marc Livitz: In the eyes of some, the boxing calendar of 2016 is somewhat beginning to percolate, all the while with two major bouts on the horizon getting much of the attention. First and perhaps foremost is the hotly anticipated showdown between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez possibly set to take place in the fall, provided Alvarez gets past Amir Khan on May 7th in Las Vegas. While an upset win for Khan is plausible, it doesn’t pass as possible to most sets of eyes. The universally recognized middleweight champion, Golovkin did his part last weekend with a second round shellacking of Dominic Wade, so the countdown is on to see how “Canelo” fares in ten days’ time. The same type of anticipation is at least starting to bubble two divisions up from middleweight.
Undefeated knockout artist, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev has torn a path through the light heavyweight ranks for more than half a decade and much of the boxing world would relish a superfight between he and either Andre Ward or Adonis Stevenson. Ward waltzed through his bout with Sullivan Barrera last month, while Stevenson hasn’t fought since last September. Either way, Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KO’s) must get past Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba on July 11 first to hopefully complete the double in terms of what the fans would like to see. Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KO’s) has fought over half of his fights in his native South Africa, particularly earlier in his career and he’s set to travel to Kovalev’s home country of Russia to face the unbeaten champion.
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, “Golden Boy” Chilemba 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.
Isaac, trainer Buddy McGirt and CEO of Main Events Promotions, Kathy Duva all took part in a brief conference call on Wednesday to discuss the bout set to take place in July in Ekaterinburg, Russia at the DIVS Palace of Sports.
Selected Highlights Listed Below:
Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO: “We’re delighted for not only Sergey to have a chance to fight in Russia, but also for Isaac to have a shot a world title. Both fighters are going into this fight with the approach of the best fighting the best. We’re hoping that HBO will televise this, but right now it’s a bit of a logistical issue.”
Isaac Chilemba on how he measures up to Kovalev’s past opponents: “There’s no such thing as an easy fight. I believe that Kovalev worked hard to be where he is. This will be a totally different fight for him.
On if he worries about fighting in the same place where a former Kovalev opponent (Roman Simakov) fought and ultimately died: “Whatever happened at that time will not happen this time. We can’t put these two together. I think the pressure 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.”
Kathy Duva on the ease of securing the contest: “We asked last Monday and got the answer on Tuesday. It was not a hard fight to make because Isaac wanted a title shot so badly. We tried to get the WBC title shot for him first, but it didn’t work out. We thought this was the type of fight that Sergey wanted before he goes on to a tremendous fight against someone (Ward) who is a boxer and not a fighter.”
“On both sides, we were fortunate to have two fighters who wanted the same thing. It’s fallen together so easily, which is a rare occurrence.”
Chilemba on fighting Kovalev in Russia: “I’ve gained lots of experience through fighting my opponents on their home ground. As for now, it’s not something I’m thinking about. Everyone will see this time that I’ve won the fight. I’ve come up short twice going for the WBC title, but this is where I need to be. I’ll take everything out of every pocket to make sure I can get a decision.”
“You wouldn’t believe the joy I felt when I heard about this opportunity. 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 in their house. I don’t care where we’re fighting. We know his strengths and weaknesses. In July, we’re going to expose his weaknesses.”
James “Buddy” McGirt on Getting the Win: “The key to victory is to box, but at the same time, we have to mix it up. Kovalev’s not just a puncher. He can fight. My guy can fight as well, so the key is to get more than one game plan in order to emerge victorious.”
“Kovalev is going to be fighting at home, so the pressure is on him to impress his fans. Our job is to upset the apple card. After Isaac’s last fight and once you look at the light heavyweight division, who else is there? Adonis (Stevenson) isn’t going to fight Kovalev. That’s boxing, where sometimes a close loss gets you more attention than a close win.”
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April 27, 2016