Boxing icon Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba yesterday said he felt devastated after suffering his first technical knockout (TKO) loss to Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
Chilemba’s bid to reclaim the North American light heavyweight title suffered a huge setback after the eighth round following a right elbow injury at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, USA in the early hours of yesterday.
It was his third successive loss following the back-to-back defeats to Sergey Kovalev and Eleider Alvarez.
“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,” the boxer was quoted as saying by skysports.com after the bout.
And in an interview from the US yesterday, Chilemba sounding out of sorts, said: “I will pick myself up and soldier on, I might be down but certainly not out. Nevertheless, I can’t hide my disappointment because this [result] is likely to affect my rankings further.”
Chilemba was trying to bounce back from two losses in a row to remain relevant in the division while Oleksandr Gvozdyk, a 2012 Ukrainian Olympic bronze medallist, was trying to brandish his credentials as a rising contender.
And in a pre-bout interview with our sister newspaper, the Weekend Nation, he said: “This is the fight that will take me back to the top five in the world rankings. I am now rated 10th from the second position I was just a year ago.”
According to skysports.com.com, it was Gvozdyk who accomplished his goal, forcing Chilemba (24-5-2, 10 KOs), to retire on his stool after the eighth round with a right elbow injury.
“Left jab, left hook and straight rights to the body really hurt him,” said Gvozdyk. “People don’t think I have a lot of fights, but I had over 250 amateur fights. I just broke him down.”
Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KOs), trained by Robert Garcia, appeared on his way to a victory even before Chilemba’s injury. He was steadily breaking down the slower, smaller Chilemba with precise punches and pesky jab he kept in his face.
He had Chilemba in deep trouble in the fourth round, forcing him on the ropes and unloading a sustained flurry that had referee Jay Nady looking closely.
“A new star was born tonight,” said matchmaker Brad “Abdul” Goodman of Top Rank, which promotes Gvozdyk.
Chilemba, 29, was working with Roy Jones Jnr. as his trainer for the first time, but according to skysports.com the pairing did not seem to stoke much fire in him. n