By Keith Idec
ATLANTIC CITY – Dmitry Bivol said after beating Isaac Chilemba on Saturday night that one of his ultimate boxing goals is to have fans remember him.
The hard-hitting light heavyweight champion convincingly beat Chilemba, but his methodical performance mostly was forgettable on the Sergey Kovalev-Eleider Alvarez undercard at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Etess Arena.
The 27-year-old Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs) seemed too strong for Chilemba early in their fight for Bivol’s WBA title. A stubborn Chilemba (25-6-2, 10 KOs) withstood Bivol’s vaunted power, though, and took him the distance for just the third time in his 14 professional fights.
Kyrgyzstan’s Bivol blamed Chilemba’s reluctance to engage for a showing HBO’s broadcast team and some fans have criticized, despite that Bivol beat the South African contender thoroughly on the scorecards. Two judges – Henry Grant and Ron McNair – scored every round for Bivol (120-108), whereas judge George Hill scored eight of the 12 rounds for Bivol (116-112).
“He’s definitely one of the most awkward fighters,” Bivol said through a translator during the post-fight press conference. “There’s no doubt about that. It’s always hard to make an exciting fight with a guy that’s trying to avoid a fight, you know, that’s coming backwards and he has that technique of making the punches kind of slip by and not really land.”
The 31-year-old Chilemba has lost four of his past five fights, but each of those losses came against current or former world champions (Alvarez, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Sergey Kovalev and Bivol).
Three of those four fights went the distance. The only one of those four defeats that didn’t last all 12 rounds ended following the eighth round, when a hand injury prohibited Chilemba from continuing against Gvozdyk in November 2016.
Bivol also noticed Saturday night that Chilemba benefited from fighting with an usual amount of Vaseline on his face.
“He had Vaseline all over his face every time he came out [of his corner] and the commission let him put a whole bunch of Vaseline on,” Bivol said. “I don’t know how many bottles [he used]. Those things help, you know? But at the end of the day, he’s awkward and all respect and props to him for that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.