Chilemba and Lepikhin fight to be next in line on March 14
Two of the undercard scrappers on the March 14 undercard for the Sergey Kovalev-Jean Pascal tangle, Issac Chilemba and Vasiliy Lepikhin, took part in a Tuesday conference call to talk about their light heavyweight clash.
Main Events’ Kathy Duva, who’s co-promoting the event with Interbox, said this fight “could be the sleeper of the night.” The Jersey-based dealmaker said lighter weight fighters are losing their ruling hold on the sport and 175 pounds is where it’s at.
The 23-2-2 (10 knockouts) South African Chilemba, age 27, last gloved up on Aug. 2, when he beat Cory Cummings in Atlantic City by seventh round stoppage and has won three three straight since losing a unanimous decision to Tony Bellew on May 25, 2013 (he’d drawn with Bellew in his previous outing). Chilemba said he’s getting closer to his dream, which is to be “one of the greatest in the world.” He’s keen to fight RING champion Adonis Stevenson or the Kovalev-Pascal winner – or the loser – and he likes that he’s edging closer to a world title.
Lepikhin sports a 17-0 (9 KOs) mark; they will vie for the vacant NABF 175-pound crown. The Russian was asked about the bounty of talent in the division and the need to look good in getting the “W.” He said he wants to “make fans like me” in every fight but he is thinking solely of Chilemba, not the Adonises or Artur Beterbievs, etc.
Chilmeba told us he’s ready for Lepikhin, who he called a “good fighter” who “has height and knows how to use it. I don’t see anything that will trouble me,” regarding his height (6-foot-3 1/2 to 6-1) or his smarts, Chilemba said. The fighter told us he wants to win rounds more conclusively, so as to head off any more draws on his resume. He declared that he’s improved mentally and has also physically improved over the last few years.
Lepikhin, age 29, wants to be in the mix and follow the path of the Gennady Golovkins, Kovalevs and other folks who have come from similar lands to snag titles, we’ve heard. His last scrap came Nov. 8, when he beat Jackson Junior via 10-round unanimous decision in Pennsylvania. His manager, Egis Klimas told media that he and his fighters try not to worry about what the other guy will do but want to concentrate on what they bring to the table. The fighter said, in Russian, that he will “be enjoying boxing” and take it as it comes on fight night. He acknowledged that Chilemba is the better-known pugilist and “This gives me more motivation.” He said he is ready to go 12 for the first time while Chilemba said he likes his experience edge, that “My body knows” how to handle those deep waters.
Lepikhin’s nickname is “The Professor” and the name came up when, in his first pro fight, a promoter was so impressed with his ring generalship, thus the name was born, we were told.
The Russian, said Klimas, was sick for his last tangle, against Junior, and in fact they weren’t sure if he’d go through with the fight, so we can presume he might be better than he looked on that night.
The winner, said Duva, may be in a position to get a title shot at the end of the year, likely with the IBF. She also said she could see her man Kovalev fight one or, heck, both before his run is done. The promoter also noted that any talk of any one person taking over the sport isn’t a given. She’s seen many a supposed game changer come, guns blazing, and then slink awayÔÇªmeanwhile, she is still there, as are Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya. So any suggestion that an Al Haymon is cornering the market on light heavies is wickedly premature.
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