After winding up 2015 with a loss to Eleider Alvarez in a WBC silver light heavyweight title bout in Quebec, Canada, Chilemba dusted himself off and looked forward to starting afresh in 2016.
And in July this year, he secured a WBO, WBA and IBF light-heavyweight title bout against the champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev.
And although Chilemba lost on unanimous decision, he stood up to be counted after holding an impressive distinction as only the second boxer to go the full 12 rounds against a boxer of such brute destructive force.
Even Kovalev could not help but hail Chilemba, describing him as a “good and experienced boxer.”
After roping in his childhood idol Roy Jones Jnr as his new trainer, Chilemba secured another title bout against Ukranian Oleksandr ‘The nail’ Gvozdyk in a North American Boxing Federation (Nabf) light heavyweight bout in Las Vegas, United States.
“I am definitely going to win, no matter what. Whatever they bring to the ring, I will crash it into pieces, I am ready for it,” declared Chilemba in a pre-bout interview.
But cometh the day, the revered boxer could not ‘sting like a bee and float like a butterfly’ as he usually does and was forced to retire after the eighth round following a right shoulder injury.
Not only was it his third successive loss, but also his first technical knockout defeat in his otherwise distinguished career.
“I am devastated,” said Chilemba. “If I hadn’t hurt my right arm in the third round, it would have been a completely different outcome. I was in an incredible amount of pain from the third round through the rest of the fight.”
But are the three losses a confirmation that the ‘Golden Boy’ has lost his magical touch?
Local boxing promoter Mike ‘Bangwe 1’ Chitenje believes Chilemba is just going through a bad patch.
“We shouldn’t forget he was up against top boxers. There were even fears that he would not last the distance against Kovalev, but against all odds he stood the heat up to the last round whereas in his latest bout against Gvozdyk, the shoulder injury betrayed him,” he said.
But perhaps Chilemba’s poor run could be attributed to his recent revelation that a hip problem which has been troubling him for the past four years, could be the cause of his woes.
“I have had a hip problem for about four years now. At first, it was tingling then I started feeling numb. After sometime, I completely lost the feeling on my thigh for about a year, now its burning all the time and sometimes I can’t stand on my leg. There are times when I can’t endure the pain during training and I am forced to stop,” he said.
An American surgeon Keith Ruskin, has estimated that Chilemba could be out of action for a year and a half, but the boxer remains determined that he will bounce back. Maybe 2017 could signify a new dawn. n