Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) is one of the hardest and most ruthless punchers in boxing, but in a rarity, the WBO/IBF/WBA light heavyweight champion was unable to get a knockout win on Monday night in Russia. "Krusher" took a unanimous decision (117-110, 118-109, 116-111) over Issac Chilemba (24-4-2, 10 KOs), who was expected to be another victim on Kovalev's knockout list, but Chilemba kept his own record intact of having never been stopped in his career.
Chilemba is not a slouch by any means, and Kovalev was unable to really fire away his deadly right hand with any level of consistency. Isaac also tagged Kovalev often with his jab and body punching, but Kovalev's power and superior craft came through when it mattered most. Chilemba was dropped at the end of round 7 and in serious trouble, but Kovalev couldn't seal the deal. Kovalev went for the KO again in round 12 but couldn't get it, as Chilemba saw out the fight and performed better than expected against one of the most dangerous men in the sport. Check out the highlights in the videos below.
Watch: @KrusherKovalev and @Isaac_Chilemba get straight to action in round 1. #KovalevChilemba https://t.co/iQtefWWYrK— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) July 12, 2016
Watch: @KrusherKovalev retaliates after getting tagged by @Isaac_Chilemba in round 3. #KovalevChilemba https://t.co/Xi5ELLqh89— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) July 12, 2016
Watch: @KrusherKovalev knocks @Isaac_Chilemba down in round 7. #KovalevChilemba https://t.co/oKIm2rcFwp— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) July 12, 2016
It's not often that Kovalev goes the distance with anyone. Bernard Hopkins went the full 12 rounds with Kovalev in 2014, but wasn't remotely as competitive as Chilemba was. You could chalk it up to being an off-night for Kovalev, although anyone looking to back Andre Ward over him in November will see this as evidence that Ward will be able to beat the Russian. Credit must also be given to Chilemba, who is seen as a top 10 light heavyweight, and performed respectably in enemy territory.
Speaking of Ward, he will fight Alexander Brand (who? Exactly.) on Saturday, August 6th. Assuming Ward wins comfortably, we'll be well on our way to the big Kovalev vs. Ward HBO PPV showdown on November 19th in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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