By Darrin Doyle -
WBA, IBF, and WBO Light Heavyweight title Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev had a much tougher test than expected in his Malawian challenger, Isaac "Golden Boy" Chilemba, but still managed to walk away undefeated Monday morning
"Krusher" fought in his native Russia for the first time since the untimely death of challenger Roman Simakov after their match in 2011, Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KO) wanted to put on a dominant performance for his home crowd, however Chilemba (24-4-2, 10 KO) had different plans in mind. Kovalev was the aggressor for most of the fight, but was often met by his opponent's sneaking jabs that snapped Sergey's head back, along with some craft counters to keep him at bay.
The action picked up substantially in the 7th round when Kovalev landed a lead left followed by a hard right that sent Chilemba straight to the mat. The challenger beat the count, but was obviously not in good shape. "Krusher" went in for the stoppage, but there was simply too little time left in the round to achieve it.
"Golden Boy" got rocked again in the 8th round with a series of straight lefts, but once more the champion was unable to finish the job. The action continued throughout the duration of the scuffle, culminating with both men trading blows while blood gushed from Chilemba's nose. In the end, Kovalev was up on the scorecards 118-109, 117-110, and 116-111.
Even in defeat, the challenger showed an amazing amount of grit, combined with a savvy ring presence, and has set himself up with a great opportunity to land another big fight in the exciting Light Heavyweight division.
Kovalev already has a November 19th collision planned with Andre Ward, granted Ward can get past his upcoming opponent Alexander Brand on August 6th as most expect. If "Krusher" wants to make a statement in the new T-Mobile Arena, he will need to look much more sharp then he did against a lesser foe in Chilemba, or Ward will soon be claiming his stake to the division crown.
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