Dmitry Bivol to defend light heavyweight title against Isaac Chilemba on Aug. 4
Dmitry Bivol is set for his third title defense, and once again, he’ll open up an HBO telecast before Sergey Kovalev takes the ring.
Bivol will put his WBA light heavyweight title on the line against Isaac Chilemba on August 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, promoter Main Events announced Wednesday. Kovalev will defend his WBO title against Eleider Alvarez in the previously announced main event.
Bivol and Kovalev are on a collision course, and now they’ll finally have a common opponent. Chilemba surprisingly troubled Kovalev when they met in 2016 and even lasted the distance.
“I am glad that my next opponent will be a tough and well-known boxer in Chilemba,” said Bivol, THE RING’s No. 2-rated light heavyweight. “I will do my best to put on another exciting performance for all my fans.”
Bivol (13-0, 11 knockouts) is coming off a 12th-round stoppage of Sullivan Barrera in March. The 27-year-old Russian is quickly rising through the sport with his blend of power and combination punching, and now he’ll have the chance to do what Kovalev couldn’t: knock out Chilemba.
The tricky South African fighter was a longtime fixture of THE RING’s ratings at 175 pounds, but he lost three fights in a row entering 2018. Chilemba dropped a disputed decision to Alvarez in his opponent’s hometown of Quebec before Kovalev outpointed him. Then, Chilemba tore ligaments in his right shoulder during a stoppage defeat to Oleksandr Gvozdyk in November 2016.
The 31-year-old underwent surgery in Pensacola, Florida (hometown of his trainer, Roy Jones Jr.), one month later and was on the shelf for all of 2017 as he recovered.
“2017 was a bad year for me, recovering from surgery and thinking that my career was over, but I’m a fighter; I couldn’t give up and I won’t give up,” said Chilemba (25-5-2, 10 KOs). “I’m going to take this opportunity and give it everything I have. A big thanks to the rest of my team and all my supporters.”
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger