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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chilemba Gives the Professor a Boxing Lesson

Light heavyweight contender Isaac "Golden Boy" Chilemba thoroughly dominated undefeated prospect Vasily "The Professor" Lepikhin on March 14 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. Chilemba boxed his way to a comfortable unanimous decision.

Lepikhin, a 29 year old from Russia, commenced the fight on the attack. Whenever the taller man fired, Chilemba countered, often to the body, from the outside. Chilemba, who wore a red Star of David on the back of his right leg, fired down the middle between Lepikhin's guard and won the opening round by sheer activity.

Over the next four rounds, Chilemba increasingly molded the fight into an exhibition of his boxing skill. Each round Lepikhin came out of the starter's blocks roaring, but rapidly petered out.  Chilemba's straight shots were complemented by looping blows to the body once Vasily's guard closed. After each combination, Lepikhin attempted to counter, but Chilemba had already moved on.

Chilemba's defense was exquisite. Sometimes, he used a shoulder roll. Other times, he ducked his opponent's shots. He constantly shifted to the side and changed angles. Chilemba's defense frustrated Lepikhin and convinced Vasily that mounting an offensive attack would be futile. In the third round, the undefeated Russian kept his hands down in hopes of changing the tenor of the fight. He surmised that Chilemba might open up, thereby providing Lepikhin more opportunity to land. Chilemba noticed the trap and actually threw fewer punches until Lepikhin put his guard back up.

By the end of the fourth, Chilemba had landed nearly twice as many punches as Lepikhin. After the fifth, Lepikhin's father, who is also his trainer, asked if he should stop the fight. The question eradicated the remaining sliver of fighting spirit Vasily possessed. Chilemba cautiously controlled the action the rest of the way. He landed right uppercuts, stunning lead rights, and kept jabbing. Isaac realized that the tactic of showing the left to land the right worked virtually every time.

In the seventh, Lepikhin tried a new approach. Though he hadn't thrown much in the fight, he kept coming forward, but in the seventh he backed to the ropes. Chilemba was wary and didn't press his advantage too much. Lepikhin would return often to the ropes over the next few rounds. It turned out to be a method of running out the clock, rather than a way to win the fight.

One criticism pundits may have of Isaac's masterful performance was his inability to stop a fighter who had the will taken from him. At heart, Chilemba is disciplined and not willing to risk all that he's achieved in order to produce a knockout. He's expert at throwing combos and then moving. It's not in his nature to stand in the pocket for an extended period of time; he becomes antsy and nervous when too close to his opponent for too long.

One judge scored the bout 100-90. Two others had it 99-91. When it was all over, Isaac had landed three times as many punches as his opponent. Chilemba improves to 24-2-2 with 10 KOs and has set himself up for a big fight in the light heavyweight division. Lepikhin falls to 17-1 with 9 KOs.

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