Isaac Chilemba jumped at the opportunity that presented itself recently when plenty of top light heavyweights shied away from a meeting with the current number one in the division.
The 29 year-old takes on Sergey Kovalev on June 11 in Ekaterinburg, Russia in a bid to claim the WBO, IBF and WBA titles in his first world title shot at the weight.
Chilemba had previously reigned as IBO champion at 168 pounds, but is well-respected as a top contender at the higher limit as he prepares to face one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world.
“I want to thank Main Events for making this fight possible. Thanks to Sergey Kovalev for giving me this challenge,” said Chilemba.
“I believe Kovalev he is a hard-working fighter. There is no such thing as an easy fight. I believe Kovalev worked hard to get where he is. I don’t think he would say any of his opponents weren’t tough. He has never fought me or someone like him though. This will be a very different fight for Kovalev.
“The pressure is on Kovalev. He will be fighting in his hometown where he hasn’t fought in a long time. My focus is on him. My mind is on him only.”
After suffering a loss to Eleider Alvarez recently, Chilemba aims to prove his still has what it takes to be a division ruler – when trading blows with the formidable Kovalev this summer.
“I have gained a lot experience from a lot of hard-fought fights in hometowns of my opponents. I am working on Kovalev. I am going to give him hell and not leave it in the judges’ hands. Everyone expects it to be an easy fight for him. I have come short fighting for the WBC Title but maybe this is where I was meant to be. I want to thank everyone who helped make this happen. I will put it all out there to make sure I get the decision.
“I was disappointed after my fight with Alvarez. When I got the call that this fight was offered you can’t believe the joy that came over me. I knew I would get another chance to fight a tough opponent. I have been praying hard and I thank God that I finally got the opportunity.
“I believe the pressure is on him. He is fighting at home. He needs to show his home people what he is made of. I am happy to go to fight anyone, anywhere, in their backyard, in their own house I don’t care. I will give a show. I am gunning for a win. I don’t care where we are fighting. I don’t care what Kovalev is made of. We know his weaknesses and we know his strengths. I am going to beat him in his own town.
“I was filled with joy. I am truly excited about it. I deserve it. I am very happy that I got this opportunity.
“I believe in myself. I believe in my abilities as a fighter. Coming in I am not worried about anything else. Every mistake I have made in my personal life and my boxing life has made me stronger. I am confident. I trust my team and Buddy. I will be ready. I am where I am meant to be. I believe this is where I am going to show the world who I am and what I am made of. Kovalev is not invincible, he is not God, he is a man just like me. I will be the man to crush the Krusher.
“I believe I am the antidote to Kovalev. I am walking into this fight with only a few people believing in me. I am going to show the world. We are going to do what Kovalev, and no one else in the world, has ever seen. It isn’t anything hard on me.
“The pressure is on him. I love proving people wrong. That pushes me,” he added.