Sergey Kovalev didn’t have his best night against Isaac Chilemba, but got through his fight with the veteran contender with a clear decision victory, and now advances to his highly-anticipated November matchup with Andre Ward.
Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KO) dropped Chilemba (29-4-2, 10 KO) in the seventh round, but apart from that it was a well-fought fight from the challenger, who boxed effectively, kept Kovalev’s right hand largely out of the equation, and gave the Russian some fits in his first fight back home since 2011.
Still, it was a clean and obvious win for Kovalev, and nobody else has ever stopped Chilemba, either, so even that isn’t anything to be ashamed of, necessarily. The hope, obviously, was to stop Chilemba and be impressive, but it didn’t come, and Chilemba did a good job making sure that it did not. Even when he was dropped and hurt, he managed to recover pretty well.
What this means is that we’ve just got Andre Ward’s August 6 tune-up with Alexander Brand, and then he and Kovalev are set for November.
This fight could impact the way some people think about the Kovalev-Ward fight -- e.g., "if Chilemba gave him problems, Ward will school him!" — but I’m not sure it will really apply. It could, of course, but Kovalev didn’t quite look himself in this fight, either. Maybe he was distracted, maybe it was an off-night, maybe his camp wasn’t great. But he still won against a solid fighter. And next comes the big one.