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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Judges Rule Split Draw for Chilemba and Chudinov

Isaac Chilemba and Fedor Chudinov battled to a split draw in front of a socially-distanced crowd at Vegas City Hall in Krasnogorsk, Russia earlier this evening. Chilemba boxed beautifully while Chudinov never stopped pressing forward.

For a boxing purist, Isaac Chilemba is a pleasure to watch. His combinations are so educated and fluid. He rarely fails to turn after landing a shot. He changes levels. His defense is slippery and slick. He'll even throw a feint just to land a jab.

Chudinov, conversely, eschews nuance. His game plan is to come forward and throw hard punches. He possesses some skill no doubt, but it's in the context of exchanging fire. He exudes grit.

After his name was announced, a big smile crawled onto Isaac's face as South African musician Big Zulu's hit song "Mali Eningi" reached his ears. His trainer, the great Roy Jones Jr., began nodding his head to the music which tickled Isaac greatly. Jodi Solomon joined them in the corner.

Throughout the fight Chudinov may have thrown more punches, but Chilemba clearly landed more, although Chudinov connected with the more influential shots. While Chilemba almost always boxes masterfully, he is sometimes too judicious with his punches. Considering that he often travels to the opponent's hometown, his low punch output has cost him some close decisions. That wasn't the case in this fight.

Chilemba's one major flaw against Chudinov was hanging on the ropes too often. While Isaac consistently fired back off the ropes, Chudinov held the advantage in that situation. Fedor often landed combos in that position as he did in the first to take the round.

Chilemba showed his boxing brilliance in the second round. He landed a double jab and then turned to get out of dodge. He picked his shots expertly from the outside. Chudinov had no chance while the fight was stationed in the center of the ring. In the third, Chilemba kept the momentum going. He landed a jab and a right uppercut while against the ropes. Later he landed a left hook and then changed angles to get out of the way.

Chilemba's back spent too much time on the ropes in the fourth. The next two rounds were close, both fighters attempting to assert their style on the other. The man from Malawi jabbed effectively and landed his customary rights to the body from the outside, a Chilemba trademark. He added a gorgeous left hook upstairs off of that body shot. Meanwhile, Chudinov found a home for his two best punches, the right uppercut and the left hook.

Chilemba spent enough time attempting to dodge combos from the ropes in the fifth and sixth that they could be viewed as close rounds although Isaac's boxing seemed to carry them. There was no question about the seventh. Chudinov came forward a couple of times, ate a stiff jab, and decided to take the round off. He tried to steal it at the end, but only an incompetent judge would rule the seventh for the Russian.

This bout was fought around the super middleweight limit; Chilemba hasn't weighed so light in ten years. That said, he definitely didn't fade in the last rounds by any stretch of the imagination, but Chudinov came on strong. After giving away the seventh, Fedor came out in the eighth with a renewed sense of urgency. Chilemba's hands were active, but this was a round in which he allowed Chudinov to land his combos.

The ninth was particularly close with Isaac taking the first half thanks to timely jabs and left hooks as Chudinov rushed in. However, while Chilemba was in the danger zone along the perimeter, Chudinov charged forward and popped him with his head. The butt stunned the Golden Boy, and the shorter Russian connected with some of his best shots in the fight as Isaac recovered. To his credit, Chilemba didn't complain and soon fired back. He closed the period well, but the middle could've cost him the round.

The final round was boxing at its best. Both fighters gave it their all to try and capture a win in a close fight. Chilemba landed some prom-pretty combos, but he spent too much of that round on the ropes. Chudinov let his hands go and landed enough hard shots. One could argue the hometown fighter won each of the last three rounds although all were close.

The judges scores were 97-93, 95-95, 94-97. The JBB scored it 96-94 for Chilemba, but each of the judges scores was certainly plausible. Chilemba is now 26-7-3 (10 KOs) while Chudinov is 23-2-1 (16 KOs).

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