Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs) is in for the fight of his life against the world’s fiercest light heavyweight Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) on July 11 in Ekaterinburg, Russia but the 29-year old from Malawi is no stranger to fighting in enemy territory. The grudge match between Kovalev and Chilemba will be for the WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Titles.
Chilemba grew up in Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries but in order to make it as a professional fighter he left Malawi for South Africa. According to Isaac, “As a professional I have never fought at home in Malawi. I have fought mostly here in South Africa which is a foreign land for me. I have also fought in the UK, Canada and the US. That has made me who I am.”
This road warrior attitude has contributed to Chilemba’s confidence as he prepares to fight “The Krusher” in Kovalev’s backyard. He said, “I love fighting in someone’s home. That is where I can prove to the world that I am not just a fighter in the ring but I am fighter in my spirit and my soul. I can go to someone else’s hometown and defeat them in their backyard.”
For the past several years, Chilemba has trained in the United States. However, for this training camp he decided to stay in South Africa. Isaac explained, “This is a new chapter for me. This is turning a new page. We have been chasing this dream for a long time. I came up short three times. This is not an eliminator fight. I am going straight for three world tiles. In order to win this fight, I believe I needed to be here. I needed to train here. I have all of the spirit right here. This is where it all started. I have got everything I need at my fingertips.”
Chilemba is coming off a controversial majority decision loss to Eleider Alvarez in Quebec late in 2015. Many believed it could have gone either way and one judge scored the contest a draw. After the tough decision Isaac believed he would need to start over again so he was surprised when he was offered this opportunity. He said, “This is something that I didn’t even dream of especially coming off a loss in Canada. I thought after that I was going to have to start at the bottom again and instead God blessed me with the opportunity to fight for three world championships. I thank God and my team for always believing in me and making this happen. I thank Main Events for standing up for me and never giving up on me even after a loss and still offer me such a big opportunity.”
Both Kovalev and Chilemba are promoted by Main Events. CEO Kathy Duva said, “Isaac Chilemba is a legitimate top ten light heavyweight contender and he’s coming to win. He won’t be intimidated by the crowd. We know he is focused on the biggest opportunity of his career and we’ll see if he can capitalize on it.”