Isaac Chilemba: “I Truly Believe I Am Where I Was Meant To Be”
By: Sean Crose
“We will find a way for people to see it.”
So said Main Events boss Kathy Duva on Tuesday during a conference call to promote Sergey Kovalev’s July 11th light heavyweight title fight in his native Russia against Isaac Chilemba. “It was hard to find the right partners to work with,” Duva stated in reference to making the fight in Kovalev’s homeland. “That was a lot of work.”
Kovalev’s opponent, the crafty Chilemba was on the call from South Africa to promote the event, as well. Although he was hard to hear at times due to connection problems, he came across as a pleasant, even thoughtful guy. Whether or not he will have what it takes to surprise the world on July 11th, however, remains to be seen.
For his own part, though, the underdog fighter seemed confident. “There’s no such thing as an easy fight,” he said, adding later that “The pressure’s on him (Kovalev). He’s the one fighting at home.” I asked if he felt that getting a fight with Kovalev after losing a controversial decision to Eleider Alvarez last time out shows that wins don’t always matter, even in this era where a perfect record is held in such high regard.
“Yes, he said, adding that “I truly believe I am where I was meant to be.” Chilemba’s famed trainer, Buddy McGirt, concurred. “I believe,” McGirt stated, “that good things come to those who wait.”
Duva herself also had some pointed things to say on the matter. “My job is to make good fights,” she said. “There’s a lot of fighters out there these days who seem to prefer to not take a risk…that’s crazy.” The lionization of having an undefeated record at the expense of challenging oneself is something Duva clearly found puzzling.
“It’s sad that people think that’s extraordinary,” she said.
Although the 24-3-2 Chilemba clearly isn’t afraid to risk having another “L” on his resume, he and his team also appeared confident heading into the fight. “This is one fight where Isaac can pretty much be Isaac,” McGrit said.
Still, the trainer made it clear that no one was going to take it easy. “Personally, I think that the key to victory is to box,” McGirt stated. “Everyone sees Kovalev as a puncher. I don’t see Kovalev as just a puncher. Kovalev can fight.”
“But,” he added. “My guy can fight, as well.”
Duva made it clear that she was pleased to give Chilemba a crack at the title, especially in an era where people are said to avoid the 29-0-1 Kovalev (“We know where they stand,” she said, referring to Adonis Stevenson’s camp). “Issac very much wanted a title shot,” the promoter stated. “He did everything we ever asked him to do.”
Perhaps Chilemba was right when he claimed that ultimately “being a good fighter is what it is about.” Will he be good enough for the Russian terror, though? What’s more will western fans be able to see the fight live when it goes down in Russia? Duva promises they will, one way or another. Referring to HBO possibly not showing the fight, she appeared unperturbed.
“It’s more a matter of logistical issues than anything else,” she stated.