Interview with Isaac Chilemba: “He has picked the wrong time and wrong opponent:”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Isaac Chilemba is a contender in the Light Heavyweight Division. He is 29 years old from Malawi and lost his last fight in Russia to Sergey Kovalev. Many a pundit predicted Chilemba to be an easy opponent for Kovalev in the champs’ native country, but Chilemba proved anything but, lasting the entire fight while absorbing punches that have knocked out many a challenger before him. On November 19th, Chilemba will take on the up and coming Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk on the Kovalev v. Ward Pay per View undercard. We spoke with Isaac about his previous fight, switching trainers to Roy Jones Jr. and how he feels about becoming a gate keeper in the division.
Boxing Insider: After your last fight with Kovalev, do you feel you have a better chance at winning a title in the light heavyweight division?
Chilemba: Yes, I think that I am where I am supposed to be. I’ve put in a lot of sacrifice and a lot of time and I feel that I am super close to winning a title.
Boxing Insider: What was the reasoning for changing trainers after the Kovalev fight?
Chilemba: We had to make a decision on if we were going to stay training in Africa or if I would come back to America for training. We decided it would be better to go to America for training, for my career.
Boxing Insider: On November 19th, you will be the main undercard against former Olympian Bronze medalist Oleksandr Gvozdyk. How do you feel about performing on such a big stage? And what do you know about your opponent?
Chilemba: The stage doesn’t get to me at all. I am happy to fight anywhere, anytime. What I know about my opponent is that he was a top amateur and now is a good professional. I believe he wants to get somewhere in the boxing world. He has picked the wrong time and wrong opponent.
Boxing Insider: At 29 you are still a very young man in the fight game, but you will be seen as a gatekeeper for Gvozdyk. How does that feel?
Chilemba: I treat every opponent the same. We don’t overlook anyone, all fighters train the same. All of our goals, as fighters, is to be the best, and to be the champion. So if I’m fighting a guy with only 11 fights or a guy with 40 fights, they are all the same. He was a medalist, an Olympian, so I will treat him the same as if I was fighting a Kovalev.
Boxing Insider: Since you have been training with Roy Jones Jr. Is there anything that he has sharpened in your game plan and/or style?
Chilemba: Since training with Roy is the best thing that could happen right now. Coming up as a youth I would learn a lot of my technique watching other fighters and the fighter I watched the most video of was Roy Jones. My old trainer use to say to me “Stop that Roy Jones Shit”, he never thought that was my style. Now I am working with a guy that I look up to and he is showing me the meaning behind all the moves and why he was doing what he was doing. I believe that you will see a whole new Isaac Chilemba on the 19th of November.
Boxing Insider: So the main event is against 2 of the top pound for pound fighters in the world, and they are both in your weight class. What will the outcome be between Kovalev v. Ward?
Chilemba: I always believe that the boxer can outsmart the puncher. Kovalev is a puncher but is a very good boxer. It is very much a 50/50 game. Ward is a very smart fighter, and if he comes to box, he should be able to outbox Kovalev easily. It is very hard for me to pick a winner.