Chilemba opts for path to Stevenson title shot

Isaac Chilemba could face Andrzej Fonfara for the right to fight light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Light heavyweight contender Isaac Chilemba was in a great position as he had his pick of title elimination bouts.

The Malawi-born, South African-based Chilemba (24-2-2, 10 KOs) could have opted to face Artur Beterbiev for the right to challenge unified titleholder and Main Events stablemate Sergey Kovalev or face Andrzej Fonfara for the right to challenge world champion Adonis Stevenson.

In the end, Chilemba, 28, opted to go in the direction of Stevenson, although Chilemba may end up fighting someone other than Fonfara because Fonfara is headed to a fight this fall with former titlist Nathan Cleverly.

The last time Chilemba got a title elimination fight was in 2013, when he lost a unanimous decision to England’s Tony Bellew in a dreadful fight. Bellew went on to challenge Stevenson and got knocked out in the sixth round in November 2013. Chilemba, meanwhile, has won four fights in a row since the Bellew fight, which was a rematch of their draw.

"I'm very happy and glad that I finally got the chance that will lead to challenging Stevenson for his WBC belt,” Chilemba said. “I'm more than ready for this opportunity. This is my second chance and I won't let it go by as I did against Bellew two years ago. It took me a long time to get back to my spot and this time I'll get my dream as I'm well prepared both mentally and physically.

“I thank God for this second chance because not a lot of people get that opportunity. I also thank my team, Jodi Solomon, my manager, who has stood by me through the ups and downs, Buddy McGirt, my trainer, for all the knowledge I am gaining from him and Main Events for taking me on and giving me the chance to prove myself."

Said Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, “I'm thrilled that Isaac is so in demand. He's worked very hard to get to this point in his career. After carefully considering our options with Isaac and Jodi, we've decided to follow our original plan and pursue the WBC mandatory position. Isaac became the WBC's No. 1-ranked contender in March and has eagerly anticipated his opportunity to vie for the title."

Duva will have to negotiate a deal with the Fonfara camp or whomever the WBC appoints to face him should Fonfara pass as he is expected to do.