Despite experiencing some difficulty against the perennial contender, Kovalev's power appeared to be the difference in the fight and tilted numerous close, competitive rounds in his favor. It could, of course, but Kovalev didn't quite look himself in this fight, either. The 29-year-old Malawi native stayed close through six rounds, largely because of a stinging and consistent left jab, superb movement and a stout chin. Kovalev closed the fight by punishing Chilemba in the last round.
He also took the fourth and what had been a boisterous crowd at the start in the city of Ekaterinburg was now in silence as their hero was made to struggle.
South African boxer Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs) is a relative unknown to the masses, and another huge underdog opponent for Kovalev. The judges scored the fight 117-110, 116-111 and 118-109. Chilemba's nose was bleeding and he looked in bad shape.
Chilemba has never been stopped despite having three losses on his record and showed his toughness by not only recovering, but once again showing the tenacity to take the fight to the champion who visibly exhausted in the later rounds.
The victory now sets Kovalev up for a big fight against Andre Ward on November 19 if Ward wins his next fight on August 6 against Alexander Brand.