Duva: Kovalev wanted a challenge, that’s where Chilemba comes in

Main Events 24/04/2016

The Russian Wrecking Ball, WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) returns to his home country of Russia to defend all three of his belts against Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs) on Monday, July 11 in Ekaterinburg.

The fight will take place on the opening night of the International Industry Trade Fair “INNOPROM-2016” at the DIVS Palace of Sports and is sponsored by Russian Copper Company and Igor Altushkin and presented by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with German Titov Promotions.

Ranked as one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Kovalev, 33, a native of Chelyabinsk, Russia has not fought in his home country since 2011. Sergey earned his WBO belt in 2013 when he knocked out then-undefeated champion, Nathan Cleverly, in Cleverly’s backyard of Cardiff, Wales. After three consecutive successful title defenses, all knockouts, Sergey faced the legendary Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins in 2014 and unified his WBO belt with the WBA and IBF belts. After his unanimous decision win over Hopkins, Krusher had three more successful title defenses, all knockouts, of his three unified belts, including two knockouts of former WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Jean Pascal. This will be his first title defense in Russia.

According to Krusher, “I am so excited to fight in my home country of Russia. It gives me great pride to bring my titles home at last. I would like to thank my manager, Egis Klimas, my promoter, Kathy Duva and Igor Altushkin of Russian Copper Company for making this dream of mine a reality. Chilemba is a tough opponent and I will be ready for him on July 11.”

The challenger, 28, Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba, is originally from Blantyre, Malawi but now resides in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. Chilemba has quietly worked his way through the light heavyweight ranks and in 2015 he was offered opportunities from both the IBF and the WBC to fight for their mandatory positions. Isaac opted to face Eleider Alvarez, in Alvarez’s backyard, for a shot at the WBC title. Golden Boy suffered a controversial majority decision loss to Alvarez in November. This fight with Kovalev offers Chilemba a chance at the other three belts and an opportunity to vindicate that controversial loss.

Chilemba said, “First of all I thank God for the blessings and opportunities. I thank my manager, Jodi Solomon, for standing up for me whether I’m on the top or at the bottom. I thank Main Events for yet another opportunity for me to redeem myself and I thank my trainer Buddy McGirt for believing in me. I have met a lot of obstacles and every time I think I’ve got it right, I fall again, but I know my goals and I never stop following my dreams. When I received a call from Jodi regarding this opportunity, I was over the moon. I thank Sergey and his team for putting their titles on the line to face me, all I want to say to them is: they are in for a surprise, they gave the wrong guy an opportunity. I’ll work my ass off and I’m in to win it! Russia here we come!”

Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events and promoter of both Kovalev and Chilemba, said, “I’m so happy that we are finally able to bring Sergey back to Russia to defend his titles in his home country for the first time. Many thanks to Igor Altushkin of Russian Copper Company for helping us make it happen. This is no easy fight for Sergey, though. Sergey wanted a challenging opponent for his return to Russia and someone who would help him prepare for Andre Ward in November, assuming he emerges with a win. Isaac Chilemba has the right style and came ‘this close’ to becoming the WBC mandatory contender. We, and many observers, thought that the scorecards easily could have gone his way. Fortunately, we are in a position to give Isaac his world title fight and the opportunity to become a unified world champion. This is a perfect situation for all involved and I can’t wait to go to Russia!”

The fight will be televised live in Russia by Channel One. Regarding television in the United States, Duva said, “Broadcasting sports events live from certain regions of Russia can be a challenge. HBO Sports is exploring carrying the event in the U.S. It’s too early to be definitive. We know they love Sergey.”