Boxing Betting Lines & Pick on Sergey Kovalev vs Isaac Chilemba

Posted by Jordan Walterss on Thursday,July 7, 2016 9:08, EST in

Most boxing fans on this side of the world probably aren’t that familiar with Russian Sergey Kovalev. But he’s in the conversation for the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. And in a rare weekday title fight, Kovalev puts his WBO/IBF/WBA light heavyweight titles on the line Monday in Ekaterinburg, Russia in an HBO-televised card. Sportsbooks expect the champion to win easily as he’s a -10000 favorite on betting lines.

Boxing Betting Lines & Pick on Sergey Kovalev vs Isaac Chilemba

The fight will only be Kovalev’s third in Russia. He has fought most of his career in the United States and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son. Kovalev will be making his eighth title defense and will be returning the same arena the last time he fought in Russia, the DIVS Palace of Sports in Ekaterinburg. That last time there was in December 2011 when Kovalev knocked out Roman Simakov in the seventh round. Three days later, Simakov died as a result of injuries suffered in the bout. Needless to say, it’s not something Kovalev likes to talk much about. Ekaterinburg is roughly 140 miles north of the town Kovalev hails from, Kopeysk. The fight is being financed by Russian financier Igor Altushkin, the founder of Russia’s largest copper company.

Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) last fought in January in a rematch against former champion Jean Pascal in Montreal. Kovalev beat, battered and bloodied Pascal in a one-sided destruction in front of Pascal’s hometown crowd before Freddie Roach, working as Pascal’s trainer for the first time, stopped the fight in the corner after the seventh round.

Assuming Kovalev isn’t on the wrong side of massive upset here, he already has signed to fight former super middleweight champion Andre Ward in November in one of the most significant fights that can be made. That will be Nov. 19 in Las Vegas and probably is the top matchup of the year. The Kovalev-Ward was signed long ago but is contingent on each remaining undefeated through interim bouts.

Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs), 28, is a native of Malawi who fights out of South Africa. In his last outing, Chilemba dropped a 12-round decision to Eleider Alvarez in an eliminator to fight for Adonis Stevenson’s WBC title. It was a battle that was very close, as close as they come, but Chilemba came out the loser via majority decision. Many observers felt that the South African should have won.

Chilemba is a slippery customer and almost impossible to look good against, with a style not too dissimilar to Ward’s – though he is several levels below the former super-middleweight champion.

“Chilemba is a fighter who has never been stopped,” Kovalev said. “It’s my goal to stop him early.”

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Chilemba doesn’t mind that he’s going to be fighting in Kovalev’s home country of Russia, because he likes the idea of going in and beating one of his opponents in front of his own fans. He’s fortunate to be getting a world title shot after that Alvarez loss. But Chilemba is using the fact that Kovalev already has a super-bout lined up with Ward as motivation:

“Clearly they see me as a stepping stone and that’s total disrespect,” he said. “They are looking past me when we have not fought which means they see me as just a sparring partner. I am now going out there with more reason to beat this guy.”

Expert Betting Prediction

This fight won’t go the distance; Kovalev will finish Chilemba by Round 8.