Revered Malawian boxer Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba last night gave his best shot against IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia but still lost on a 12-round unanimous decision.
In a tight contest monitored through live streaming on www.maineventsboxing.com, the Russian (30-0-1. 26 KOs) went into the ring at the Divs Arena in Ekaterinburg, Russia, as an odds-on favourite, but it turned out to be a close contest which went down to the wire.
The judges scored 117-110, 116-111 and 118-109 in favour of Kovalev.
In the early rounds, Chilemba stayed out of range to try and get the feel of the bout as the Russian tried to look for openings.
He dominated the third and fourth rounds in which he forced the defending champion into rearguard action.
But Kovalev, 33, bounced back in the sixth round in which he started to find his range and caught Chilemba off-guard in the seventh round with a powerful jab that sent him sprawling on the canvas, but to his credit, he still held on to his nerve.
The ‘Golden Boy’, as Chilemba is popularly known in boxing circles, tried to work his way back into the fight in the ninth and 10th rounds, but fatigue appeared to have caught up with both of them.
In the final round, Kovalev pressed for a knockout in the final 30 seconds but Chilemba stood firm.
Before the bout, an upbeat Chilemba spoke tough, declaring that he was not moved by Kovalev’s exploits.
“Kovalev is not invincible. He is not God. He is a man just like me. I will be the man to crush the ‘Krusher,” said Chilemba.
He rejected the idea of him being the sacrificial lamb for Kovalev to slaughter and he lived to his word and fought for every inch of the way although he lost..
Chilemba, who also lost his previous fight to Eleider Alvarez last November in a 12 round majority decision, could not be reached for comment after the bout.
But boxing pundits felt this was one of those situations where he was possibly getting his first and last chance to try and win a world title.
“If Chilemba loses this fight, he’ll be knocked down further in the world rankings at 175, and it’s hard to imagine him being able to get back up where he was previously last year when he ranked near the top of the rankings,” reported Boxing News 24 in the countdown to last night’s showdown.