Looking out of sorts at times, undisputed light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) retained his titles Monday night with a wide 12 round unanimous decision over game Issac Chilemba (24-4-2, 10 KOs) at the DIVS Palace of Sports in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
The scores were 117-110, 116-111 and 118-109.
Kovalev, 33, pursued Chilemba in the opening rounds. He popped his powerful jab to the body. Chilemba occasionally countered with left hooks. Kovalev let fly with some good blows in round three, but Chilemba showed good defense by avoiding most of them.
The motivated challenger did well in round four. His movement seemed to confuse Kovalev. Kovalev was walking forward with his hands low and paying for it. Chilemba, 29, peppered him with more punches in round five.
Kovalev came back with combinations in round six. The champion was getting closer to his target.
In round seven he showed exactly why punching power is the great equalizer.
Kovalev found a lapse in Chilemba’s defense. He shot a blow to the belly—followed by a wicked right to the head that sent Chilemba to the canvas.
Chilemba, who’s never been stopped in his career, beat the count and hung on until the bell rang.
Kovalev was on the prowl for a knockout in rounds eight and nine. He landed a huge left hand, but the iron-chinned Chilemba stayed upright.
Chilemba was rocked again in the last round, but fought back.
Kovalev is scheduled to meet undefeated former super middleweight champion Andre Ward November 19th in Las Vegas.
Ward fights Alexander Brand August 6th in Oakland, CA.
There showdown is one of the most anticipated fights of the year.