Isaac Chilemba respectful of Tony Bellew threat

Malawi-born South African Isaac Chilemba is under no illusions about that task he faces on March 30 when the former world champion faces battle-hardened Scouser Tony Bellew on his home turf at the Echo Arena with a WBC title shot at stake.

Chilemba, who held the IBO super-middleweight title in 2010 before moving up to 175lbs, has defeated every opponent he has faced – barring a draw with current world beater Thomas Oosthuizen, and feels he deserves his WBC eliminator chance.

“I am a former world champion and I have held the WBC International twice, along with the fact that my rankings are good and I have a great manager,” Chilemba told World Boxing News.

“I have never fought in the UK before and so I am excited that I have had the privilege of meeting the British people as I think they are fantastic and can’t wait to fight there.”

The 25 year-old is already familiar with the task at hand, having witnessed Bellew’s world title challenge against WBO belt holder and arch-rival Nathan Cleverly and knows the threat that the ‘Bomber’ poses, especially with a baying crowd behind him.

“I have seen a few of his fights and he is a great fighter,” said Chilemba. “I was impressed with his fight (against Nathan Cleverly) but ultimately that decision (split decision loss) was one for the judges to make, which they did.

“I rate every opponent I have faced as a challenge and Bellew will be no different.”

The winner of the spring clash can expect a shot at the WBC light-heavyweight title, which is to be contested between current champion ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson and former belt holder Jean Pascal a week prior to the Liverpool event in Canada.

The ‘Golden Boy’ is undaunted about the prospect of meeting either of the fighters participating in the Quebec rematch though and will fully assess his options in the aftermath of his meeting with silver title holder Bellew.

“I am hoping for a shot at whoever will open the doors for me to hold the world title belt,” he explained. “I work hard, train hard and aim for success as I expect every athlete does,” concluded Chilemba.