Isaac Chilemba, WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight Challenger
"I want to thank Main Events for making this fight possible. Thanks to Sergey Kovalev for giving me this challenge."
On Kovalev's Recent Opponents
"I believe Kovalev he is a hard-working fighter. There is no such thing as an easy fight. I believe Kovalev worked hard to get where he is. I don't think he would say any of his opponents weren't tough. He has never fought me or someone like him though. This will be a very different fight for Kovalev."
About Kovalev's Last Fight in Russia
"Whatever happened at that time is not what's going to happen now. The pressure is on Kovalev. He will be fighting in his hometown where he hasn't fought in a long time. My focus is on him. My mind is on him only."
On Isaac's Recent Controversial Loss to Eleider Alvarez
"I have gained a lot experience from a lot of hard-fought fights in hometowns of my opponents. I am working on Kovalev. I am going to give him hell and not leave it in the judges' hands. Everyone expects it to be an easy fight for him. I have come short fighting for the WBC Title but maybe this is where I was meant to be. I want to thank everyone who helped make this happen. I will put it all out there to make sure I get the decision.
"I was disappointed after my fight with Alvarez. When I got the call that this fight was offered you can't believe the joy that came over me. I knew I would get another chance to fight a tough opponent. I have been praying hard and I thank God that I finally got the opportunity."
On Fighting in Kovalev's Home Country
"I believe the pressure is on him. He is fighting at home. He needs to show his home people what he is made of. I am happy to go to fight anyone, anywhere, in their backyard, in their own house I don't care. I will give a show. I am gunning for a win. I don't care where we are fighting. I don't care what Kovalev is made of. We know his weaknesses and we know his strengths. I am going to beat him in his own town."
On Receiving the Offer to Fight Kovalev
"I was filled with joy. I am truly excited about it. I deserve it. I am very happy that I got this opportunity."
On Training Camp for This Fight
"Buddy is coming to me. South Africa is the best place where we can train. We are going to go old style for this fight."
On His Confidence Regarding this Fight
"I believe in myself. I believe in my abilities as a fighter. Coming in I am not worried about anything else. Every mistake I have made in my personal life and my boxing life has made me stronger. I am confident. I trust my team and Buddy. I will be ready. I am where I am meant to be. I believe this is where I am going to show the world who I am and what I am made of. Kovalev is not invincible, he is not God, he is a man just like me. I will be the man to crush the Krusher.
"I believe I am the antidote to Kovalev. I am walking into this fight with only a few people believing in me. I am going to show the world. We are going to do what Kovalev, and no one else in the world, has ever seen. It isn't anything hard on me. The pressure is on him. I love proving people wrong. That pushes me."
Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events
"We are delighted that not only will Sergey get his chance to fight in Russia, but Isaac will get the title shot that he has wanted ever since we have known him. That is what this sport is about. This makes for an entertaining evening for everyone. Hopefully you will see us on July 11. We will find a way for people to see it. Hopefully we can get an HBO quality broadcast out there. That is what we are working on."
On Making This Fight
"I think we called Isaac on Monday and his team responded on Tuesday. The contract was signed by Friday. Isaac very much wanted his title shot. He did everything we ever asked him to do. Our feeling that Isaac was deserving and the perfect fight for Sergey. Sergey needs to fight a boxer to prepare for Ward. Isaac is a tremendous boxer. If you look at the way he took apart [Vasily] Lepikhin, it was surgical the way he did it. I am fortunate that both fighters wanted the biggest challenge they could get at that moment. It was hard to find the right partners in Russia to make this fight happen. Once we found them everything else fell together so easily. Once we had all the pieces in place it came together easily."
On Promoting Both Fighters
"My job is to make good fights, get good opportunities for my fighters. Isaac deserves a title fight. There are lot of fighters who avoid risk to keep their records intact. There was a never a question of who they would they fight. We don't sign people here at Main Events who don't want to fight.
"When I suggest fighters that don't test Sergey, he gets annoyed. He is preparing to face Ward in the fall. He wants to be challenged."
On Isaac's Controversial Decision Against Alvarez
"How could a bad decision hold you back? Isaac is an extraordinary fighter."
On the Other Opponents Considered Before Chilemba
"As I do every time, I talked to Adonis Stevenson's people and after some debate they turned it down again. Alvarez's people approached me about doing the fight in Canada in June but, of course, in the end Alvarez's people did not follow through so we decided to make the fight in Russia."
James "Buddy" McGirt, Chilemba's Trainer
On Isaac's Keys to Victory
"The key to victory is to box. You need to mix stuff up a little. I don't see Kovalev as just a puncher. He can fight. We have to focus on his fighting ability as well. Isaac can fight as well. We need to have more than one game plan and stick to the one that works to emerge victorious.
"Kovalev is home so the pressure is on him, not us on. He has to impress his fans back home and we need to upset the applecart."
On This Opportunity for Isaac
"After Isaac's last fight what I thought he got the decision or the draw. If you look at the light heavyweight division who else out is out there for Sergey? Adonis [Stevenson] isn't going to fight Kovalev. You have to give the Chilemba the title fight. Sometimes a loss can do more for you than the win, that's boxing. Good things come to those who wait. I believe Kathy and Kovalev believe Isaac deserves this fight and I thank them. Kathy knows what she is looking at when she sees Isaac."
On Isaac's Chances Against Kovalev
"I see a guy that has all the tools. If not, he would not be as successful as he has been. He has all the tools to upset the applecart. And for 12 rounds on July 11 we are going to give him hell. The key is to keep boxing and stay busy, don't worry about the power. That's when you have a problem. We are going to be prepared for anything and everything. Kovalev is a hell of a fighter. He isn't a one-dimensional guy so we can't be one-dimensional either. We have to be prepared for everything and we will be."
On Sergey's Recent Opponents
"I am a firm believer you know a good fighter when you see him. There wasn't anyone for Larry Holmes to fight but he was still a hell of a fighter. So is Isaac Chilemba. Isaac can pretty much be Isaac and that will have him be successful. You can't focus on Sergey's power. He just needs to be Isaac."
Jodi Solomon, Chilemba's Manager
"Thanks to Main Events for the opportunity. Thanks to Sergey Kovalev and his team for this opportunity as well."