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Monday, May 20, 2024

Isaac Chilemba to Fight Aleksei Papin on Friday

Isaac Chilemba is scheduled to fight Aleksei Papin on May 24 at the Balashikha Ice Arena in Balashikha, Russia in an eight round cruiserweight bout. Papin represents an especially difficult challenge for the veteran Malawian.

Chilemba is a 37 year old based in South Africa who sports a record of 27-9-3 with 11 KOs. He last fought in October 2022 against an overmatched opponent. A slick defensive fighter, Chilemba has lost some speed as shown in relatively recent losses to Pavel Silyagin and Osleys Iglesias. His last quality performance came against Fedor Chudinov 39 months ago, a draw in which Chilemba deserved to win.

Isaac has primarily fought at super middleweight and light heavyweight. He has only fought above 180 pounds once and that was back in 2019. His average weight for his last four fights is just 170 pounds.

Meanwhile Papin is a true cruiserweight. The 36 year old former kickboxer from Reutov, Russia has fought as a heavyweight in three of his last five fights. His average weight for those fights was 202 pounds.

The weight difference is not Chilemba's only problem. Papin is 16-1 with 15 KOs, and many of those knockouts were one-punch senses-scramblers. His bulging legs were crafted from granite. Against one-time prospect Ismayl Sillakh, Papin landed a right and two left hooks that frighteningly knocked the man known as the Black Russian unconscious. Against Dilan Prasoci, left hooks to the body sapped the punch resistance of the heavyweight from Montenegro. He went down three times before the final KO blow in the second.

Papin throws a power jab, a hard left hook, and a concussive right hand. But he does have some limitations. Papin has only been past the sixth round three times, and the eighth round twice. He lost both of those longer fights though one was later changed to a no contest. Against Ilunga Makabu, Papin faded badly in a twelve rounder and dropped a majority decision, his only official loss. Last October, Soslan Asbarov landed a counter left hook to score a knockdown in the second. He used lateral movement to change angles and neutralize Papin's jab. It didn't hurt that Asbarov was also aided by performance enhancing drugs; his unanimous decision victory was later overturned.

Both fighters have a common opponent, Wilbeforce Shihepo. Early in his career, Chilemba split a pair of six-round decisions with Shihepo in 2007. Papin stopped him in the eighth round at the Floyd Mayweather Boxing Academy in Zhukovka, Russia in 2018.

Papin's combination of weight and power advantages coupled with Chilemba's age and mileage make this a dangerous fight for the Golden Boy. Chilemba will need to wear down Papin by changing angles and letting his hands go. If the fight goes to the cards, Chilemba has had no luck in Russia getting a fair shake. Yet, Chilemba is not a knockout puncher. A fight against a hard-punching cruiserweight on the road is no easy task, but Chilemba has made a career out of accepting such challenges.

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