Sergey Kovalev in the mountains of Armenia/Photo contributed by Sergey Kovalev
Light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev has not fought in his native Russia since December 2011, a year and eight months before he won the first of his three belts.
Kovalev will bring those titles back home when he defends them against Isaac Chilemba on July 11 in Ekaterinburg, Russia (on HBO).
Kovalev is training outside of the U.S. for the first time since beating Nathan Cleverly in August 2013 to win his first belt. Since he likes training at altitude, Kovalev recently completed the first phase of his camp at the mountains of Armenia.
“I try to look for mountainous regions which provide the right elevation and terrain for my conditioning training (biking, running),” Kovalev said. “Armenia is well-known for their mountains and terrain, plus it was also a good opportunity to get away from the attention, to focus solely on training.”
Kovalev liked that the Russian national team was training nearby.
“The Russian Boxing Olympic team had their training camp in the same area (Tsaghkadzor, Armenia) as well, so I had good company around me, the right training mentality and focus level,” he said. “Help from the local trainers and Russian national team boxers was quite handy with finding the new trails for my runs and biking.”
Kovalev, 33, is 29-0-1 with 26 knockouts. Chilemba, 29, is from South Africa. He is 24-3-2 with 10 knockouts and has very little chance of defeating Kovalev, who has a knockout ratio of 87 percent.