By John Angus Macdonald
As announced earlier this week, Tony Bellew and Isacc Chilemba are set to fight each other once more on the under card of Carl Froch v Mikkel Kessler II for the right to face the winner of Chad Dawson v Adonis Stevenson.
The first contest between the pair, while not a barnburner, was an interesting tactical affair in which the three scoring judge were unable to separate them, deeming the contest a split decision draw. BoxingScene caught up with Chilemba to get his thoughts on the rematch
“I’m really very happy,” he said. “I get to finish a job that is ready to get done”
Many believed the 25-year-old had done enough to take the first bout. He overcame a slow start and from the fifth round caused Bellew issues with his elusiveness and quick counters.
“I did better than he did to win the fight and I was very upset with the outcome” he said. “I thought I won the fight. From the fourth round upwards I was leading the fight. The judge that made 116-112 [Christophe Fernandez, in Chilemba’s favour] I was very impressed with because that’s what I thought. Another judge scored it a draw and the other gave it to him [Bellew] by a point, I don’t know how they scored the fight!”
In the immediate aftermath of the first fight, held in Bellew’s hometown on the ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ card, and when asked about a rematch the Malawian announced “I don’t want it in Liverpool. I don’t care where — Japan or anywhere — just not in the U.K”. On reflection, he admits those comments were in the heat of the moment
“On that night, because I fought in his backyard, I didn’t want to go back there,” he said. “I thought they’d take a rematch, I said first I wanted a rematch, and put it back in Liverpool and I didn’t want to fight in Liverpool again. When I sat down and thought about it I didn’t care anymore, I’d even fight him in his house! We’re going to London this time and it will be different. I don’t care where I fight him, it’s all about getting that spot [mandatory challenger to the winner of Dawson v Stevenson].”
In the lead up to and directly after the first fight Bellew, as ever, had a lot to say. Few generate as much hype with their words. Love him or loathe him, his comments always get a reaction. However, Chilemba has felt aggrieved by some of his statements, in particular the claim that Buddy McGirt, Chilemba’s trainer, told Bellew that he had won the contest.
He said: “I don’t believe Buddy said that, I was there! All buddy said was he was happy with a draw because we were fighting in somebody’s backyard. I think he is very arrogant. I don’t know him as a person but when it comes to business he is very disrespectful. It’s business, we’re going to this again and that’ll be me getting my respect back”
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” a mistake Chilemba promises not to make. His slick, counter-punching style is difficult to beat but doesn’t endear itself to crowds or judges that favour aggression, particularly when fighting away from home.
““This time I’ll make sure I won’t leave it to the judges; I’ll either out-class him or stop him! This time you will see a new, different guy.” said Chilemba
Finally Chilemba took the time to thank all those who made the rematch possible. “I want to thank Jodi Solomon, my manager, for getting the rematch. I want to thank [Lou] DiBella and the team, Eddie Hearn and everyone else who made this happen in such a short space [of time]. Also I just want to tell the U.K fans that I’m coming there and this time they will see a different person”