WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol came into the Mark G. Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with a lot of momentum. He had won the belt with a first round knockout of Trent Broadhurst and then nearly shut out Sullivan Barrera before stopping him in the 12th round. Going into the fight against Isaac Chilemba, many people felt that Bivol would be able to continue his knockout streak while champion.
That was not the case as Chilemba made it a tough fight for Bivol and went through 12 rounds against the champion, but lost to Bivol by unanimous decision with two scores of 120-108 and a score of 116-112. Chilemba’s record goes down to 25-6-2 while Bivol retains his title and moves up to 14-0. It was the second defense of the WBA title by Bivol and first decision win since December of 2016.
Chilemba had been a tough opponent for a few highly ranked guys in the division, as he went 12 rounds with Sergey Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez, and Tony Bellew among others. Here against Bivol he showed the same toughness by moving around the ring a lot and throwing jabs at unexpected times, plus a few counter shots that threw off the timing of the young champion. It took up until the sixth round before Bivol had more success against Chilemba and got him into difficult situations. Still, it was a learning experience of sorts for the 27 year old from St. Petersburg Russia.
“I was trying to do what my trainer was telling me,” Bivol said through a translator at the press conference. “We never really try to set a goal of just ‘knock him out’…I wish that I would have added that final point that would have ended the fight, but I wasn’t able to do it here.”
It was yet another loss for Chilemba in a world title fight at light heavyweight, as he lost to Kovalev in 2016. Who knows what is next for the fighter trained by former great Roy Jones Jr., as he may be knocked down to below the top 20 in the light heavyweight division. For Bivol, this may be a small step towards a unification fight in the near future. Currently, he is content with the direction of his 14 fight pro career.
“I’m glad that things have worked out the way they have,” Bivol said. “I’m very happy with the way that my career is going.”
He also knows that he wants to make a statement in the division and that he wants to be recognized as a good fighter by boxing fans worldwide.
“I want to be remembered by boxing fans…that’s my goal. I should fight against the best.”