As Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (24-4-2, 10 KOs) prepares to attempt to reclaim the NABF Light Heavyweight Title from Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk (11-0, 9 KOs) live on the Kovalev-Ward “Pound For Pound” HBO Pay-Per-View undercard from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada he will have former four-division world champion Roy Jones Jr. in his corner for the first time. Below Jones assesses the match-up and his observations of the young Malawi native:
Question: Does Chilemba’s performance against Kovalev give him more confidence going into this fight?
Roy Jones Jr: “Oh yes, most definitely. Kovalev had been crushing everybody and he didn’t get crushed so it has to give him confidence.”
Q: Chilemba has almost three times as many fights as Gvozdyk. How big of an advantage is this?
RJ: “It’s not a big advantage because Gvozdyk probably has three times more fights than Chilemba does in amateurs. These Eastern European guys have so many more amateur fights than we do. They fight from when they’re small and they go through schools and everything. These guys are very, very high-tech when it comes to being skilled in the ring in the sport of boxing so he probably has a little bit more experience if you add up the fights over the years.”
Q: What must Chilemba do in this fight in order to win?
RJ: “He’s got to disrupt Gvozdyk. He can’t let Gvozdyk fight at his own pace. He can’t let Gvozdyk constantly push him backwards so he’s gotta make Gvozdyk change, make Gvozdyk do things he does not like to do.”
Q: What must Chilemba prevent Gvozdyk from doing or take away from him in order to win?
RJ: “Chilemba must prevent Gvozdyk’s control of the power of the jab and setting up the big right hand.”
Q: Do you think, now that you are working with Chilemba, if he defeats Gvozdyk he should be entitled to a rematch with Sergey?
RJ: “Of course, of course he should. Chilemba deserves a rematch with Sergey.”
Q: What are Chilemba’s biggest strengths and weaknesses. How are you working to correct them?
RJ: “His feet are his biggest strength. His feet are very good, he can be very elusive. And his biggest tool is his straight right hand. His weakness is that he had a lack of punching power because he wasn’t turning his shoulder, turning his body with his punches. We are fixing that, working on it right now.”
Q: As a former light heavyweight world champion, what are your observations on the Kovalev-Ward fight?
RJ: “Very good fight. Best fight of boxing today. I look forward to seeing it. To me it’s one of the best fights we had in boxing in years as far as guys being in their prime, being the two best in the division. That is just a great fight. A great fight for boxing.”
Q: How would you break down this match-up?
RJ: “No I don’t have a prediction. Andre Ward hasn’t been beaten in a long time, and if there was a guy that could beat him, there is the guy, so…”
Q: Which fighter, Kovalev or Ward, would have given you the best fight when you were 175-pound world champion?
RJ: “Both of them would be really good fights, very hard fights to fight. Very different fights to fight. My hand speed maybe would be better against both of them but they’d be tough guys to fight. Kovalev because of the power and Ward because of his mentality, he’s a very smart guy in the ring. Very hard fights, but speed factor is probably what I would use to get both of them beat.”