Sergey Kovalev, the holder of the WBA, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight titles, will return to action on July 11 in a stay-busy fight in Ekaterinburg, Russia, facing veteran contender Isaac Chilemba. It will be a Monday afternoon fight on U.S. time, and there's not yet a commitment from HBO to air the bout in the States.
Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KO) last fought in January, decimating Jean Pascal in a rematch that became more of a personal grudge for the Russian slugger. With a fall date against Andre Ward looming -- or at least everyone hopes that it is -- he wanted to stay busy this summer, and this is the sort of fight that was expected. Ward, who returned in March to beat Sullivan Barrera, is also expected to fight in the summer. The Kovalev-Ward date discussed previously was November 21.
Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KO) is no real threat to Kovalev, as he's not a puncher and just doesn't have the dynamic, next level skills of the champion. He's a solid veteran fighter, a crafty pro who can be a handful for the likes of Tony Bellew or Eleider Alvarez or Vasiliy Lepikhin, but in all candor, Kovalev is almost surely going to win this fight with relative ease.
This will be Kovalev's first fight in Russia since 2011, and just the third of his pro career.