Kathy Duva reacts to Kovalev win
IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev got presented with more of a challenge than many fans figured he would, as the working assumption that he’d do a steamroller job on Issac Chilemba, Monday in Russia, got punctured.
The Malawi-born challenger made the Russian work hard in all 12 rounds of his hometown showdown, though the Main Events ace exited the DIVS arena with the unanimous decision and gave the rooters on hand an extra thrill with a seventh round knockdown.
Pro and amateur analysts said Kovalev looked like he had underrated Chilemba, maybe thought about that forthcoming tangle with Andre Ward too much. Others opined that Chilemba, as usual, was no slouch and seemingly fought a notch better than he ever had before.
Kovalev promoter Kathy Duva was on site. I requested her takeaways.
“This was exactly the kind of fight that Sergey needed to help him prepare for Ward,” she told me. “We chose Isaac not only because he is a legit Top 10 contender who, in my opinion, richly deserved a title shot. (His loss to Eleider Alvarez was due to a wrong decision, IMO.) We also chose Isaac because his style is such that it seemed likely that he would extend Sergey to the full 12 rounds and give him some problems to solve in the process.”
Post bout, Kovalev told HBO’s Kieran Mulvaney that he came to the table with extra butterflies knocking around in his gut. Duva touched on that.
“There is no doubt that the distractions that came with fighting so close to his home for the first time in many years, along with the pressure of wanting to give his Russian fans a spectacular knockout, weighed on Sergey last night.”
Duva added, “Also, we have often seen that the last fight before ‘the big one’ presents its own special challenges. (Think Kostya Tszyu vs. Oktay Urkal as tune-up to the Zab Judah fight as one of the very many examples that come to mind.)
“Also, I give a lot of credit to Isaac, who fought the fight of his life, last night. He came to win, as we knew he would. And I think his smart and gutsy performance enhanced his standing among the world’s light heavyweights.
“But in the end, like the great champion he is, Sergey rose to the occasion and managed to dominate and knock Isaac down on the way to 12 good rounds of work that will benefit him greatly when he faces Ward in November.
“Now let’s keep our fingers crossed for a Ward victory (over Alexander Brand) on August 6th so we can get the party started!”
My take: Smart summation by the promoter, ever savvy in recognition of lauding the “loser,” whom she also reps. Your take, fans? What did you see in that Kovalev distance fight, a slight novelty, what with judges being needed?
The pressure of wanting to give his listeners a spectacular podcast – plus extra butterflies knocking around in his gut – weighed on Woodsy. But it turned out to be gas. Coffee gas. In an enclosed studio. See where this is going?