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Dmitry Bivol: Chilemba is a good challenge for me

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Dmitry Bivol isn’t looking past Isaac Chilemba as Saturday nears.

Dmitry Bivol v Cedric Agnew Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

WBA “world” light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol returns to the ring on Saturday on HBO, facing longtime contender Isaac Chilemba in the Kovalev-Alvarez co-feature from Atlantic City.

Bivol (13-0, 11 KO) is the heavy favorite, and the big goal from the network and the hope from fans is that we’ll see Bivol face the Kovalev-Alvarez winner next. But he says he’s not overlooking Chilemba, and that he has a healthy respect for his opponent:

“He gives me a good experience. He is a good challenge for me. I will be ready. I respect Isaac Chilemba because he took many fights against the best fighters like Sergey Kovalev. He fought for three belts with Sergey Kovalev. I know he has good experience. He can move backward and he can move forward. He can fight all 12 rounds.”

As mentioned in the Kovalev-Alvarez preview, Chilemba has lost to his better opponents, but he’s fought many of them close, and the only time he was stopped it was due to a broken hand. He knows how to push opponents the distance, whether he’s outgunned or not. He’s a crafty veteran fighter and a fine step for Bivol’s development.

That said, again, Bivol is expected to win, and to do so without much serious trouble. If he does what’s expected, he makes himself an even more intriguing opponent for Sergey Kovalev or Eleider Alvarez.