By Jeff Day: Sometimes the old game leaves you questioning your conscience and one such occasion will be this Saturday night at Upton Park – home of West Ham United FC in London’s east end – when the much publicised David Haye-Dereck Chisora heavyweight contest takes place.
The fight has created huge interest in the UK with sections of the media who normally take no interest in the noble art giving the fight column inches and airtime. Of course, this is in the main only because of the events that took place in Munich back in February after the Klitschko-Chisora WBC Heavyweight Title fight and is perhaps a sad indictment of the times that such events have put boxing back into the mainstream rather than the exploits of a Carl Froch or Ricky Burns.
Chisora’s slapping of Vitali Klitschko at the weigh in, the spitting of water in brother Wladimir’s face in the ring before the first bell and of course the brawl involving Haye, him and members of their teams created publicity boxing cannot buy. Unfortunately, what has been lost in all of this is Chisora’s valiant challenge for Vitali’s crown. He gave the veteran champion arguably his toughest fight since his meeting with Lennox Lewis in 2003.
Like it or not, 30,000 tickets have been sold and subscriptions to British tv channel BoxNation are apparently increasing greatly. There has even been debate on the BBC between Frank Warren – Chisora’s manager – and Robert Smith the General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control.. After the shenanigans in Munich, the BBBofC decided to revoke Dereck’s licence stating that he could reapply at any time. He was not banned and was therefore free to pursue a licence to fight under another jurisdiction. He has done just that by obtaining a licence from the Luxembourg Boxing Federation! (The Luxembourg Boxing Federation was formed in 1922 – seven years before the British Boxing Board of Control believe it or not).
The Board have said that any licensee taking part in the show will face possible disciplinary action from them after the show and the Luxembourg Federation have countered that by starting legal action against the board, citing intimidation from the British Board. It is messy and nasty and boxing is being viewed by the general public once again as a circus – and a poor one at that. David Haye returned his BBBofC licence once he announced his retirement in October last year. He also has been granted a licence by the Luxembourg based body so the Board are pretty much powerless to prevent the fight happening.
Whether you are for or against the bout taking place it is going to happen and it is up to the individual whether they decide to watch or not. I will watch although would rather it was taking place under the BBBofC’s auspices. The fight is to be televised in the UK as stated on BoxNation and in the US on Epix. There is big demand, although I think there is a macabre element to this: People know what a loose cannon Chisora can be. He has ‘previous’.
In May 2009 in the fifth round of his bout with Paul Butlin, Dereck took a bite of his opponent’s ear in their eight round match. Referee Dave Parris gave Chisora a stern warning, but did not disqualify him and ‘Del-Boy’ took a points decision. In February 2010 at the ‘staredown’ after the weigh-in for his fight with Carl Baker, Chisora bizarrely grabbed Baker and kissed him fully on the lips! His affection for Carl did not last too long as Baker was despatched in two rounds.
Who knows what we are going to be in for on Saturday night? This is part of the ‘attraction’ to many people. The thing is, is Dereck Chisora a truly crazy man out of control or is there at least some element that is calculated knowing full well he will get attention? Having listened to him in recent interviews he appears quite a laid back guy with a decent sense of humour.
What has also been forgotten in all this is that it is actually a good old fashioned heavyweight domestic match-up with both fighters coming off defeats to a Klitschko: Chisora’s aforementioned challenge to Vitali in February and David Haye’s somewhat disappointing effort when being clearly outscored by Wladimir in July 2011.
Because of Haye’s incessant trash talking before his meeting with Wladimir what manifested itself in Hamburg was a huge let-down. David lost clearly. He slipped to the canvas on several occasions and looked to be more occupied with survival than letting his hands go. He just could not get near enough to the champion who used all his physical attributes to his advantage.
Chisora, the former British Heavyweight and Commonwealth champion is having only his 19th professional fight. The Zimbabwe born, North London based heavyweight has a résumé of 15 wins and 3 defeats. The three losses have come in Dereck’s last four fights. In July last year he was comprehensively outpointed by Tyson Fury losing his British and Commonwealth crowns.
He bounced back four months later with a routine six-round points’ win over the smaller Lithuanian Remigijus ZiausysIt. Within a month he was challenging Finland’s Robert Helenius for the European Title in Helsinki. Helenius was awarded a scandalous hometown decision. The Brit looked to have clearly outworked the Finn.
His performance in Finland was good enough to convince Frank Warren he could mount a challenge to WBC king Vitali Klitschko. Dereck was in the fight to the end and it was a performance he can be proud of. He caught the champion with rights over the top and showed a sound chin in the process.
There are perhaps mitigating circumstances for the Fury and Helenius defeats: it is fair to assume that the Londoner was not in the best condition against Fury as he was around twenty pounds heavier than his best weight. He was 261lbs against Tyson and 241.5lbs when challenging Vitali, although Tyson performed well on the night.
The common consensus is he was robbed against Helenius and defeat to a world champion who hasn’t lost in nearly a decade is hardly a disgrace.
What Chisora brings to the bout is steady pressure, good head movement, excellent chin and is unfazed by the size of any challenge put in front of him. Nine of his fifteen wins have come inside schedule, which indicates he is a good puncher, though not a one punch knockout artist. At 28, he must be at or approaching his peak. At just over 6ft 1in tall he is slightly shorter than Haye and he will also have 4 inch reach disadvantage.
To win Chisora must turn this into an ugly brawl. Look for him to rough up Haye on the inside and not being too concerned about minor details like the Queensbury Rules. The head, elbow and forearm are likely to be used as and when he feels the need to do so. He will look to corner David and lean on him to nullify the former cruiserweight’s speed and movement.
The referee – unknown as I write – will need to be strong and ensure the fighters have his respect early on. Mickey Vann had been nominated as referee, but Haye and his trainer Adam Booth objected because they felt that Vann – now retired with the BBBofC – would be too small. I didn’t agree with that at all as Vann refereed the Lennox Lewis-Frank Bruno fight back in 1993 and is still actively working overseas.
For Haye to prevail he must use his better speed and movement and keep his emotions in check, although he seems to be indicating he would be happy to go toe to toe (no pun intended) with Chisora.
Haye is 25-2 with 23 knockouts. Although Dereck continues to call David a cruiserweight, the South Londoner is the puncher in this fight. It is said by some that Haye lacks stamina and may wilt in the later rounds if Chisora is still standing. Also, David was floored by super middleweight Lolenga Mock early in his career, stopped by Carl Thompson and floored by Jean-Marc Mormeck when unifying the Cruiserweight title in 2007.
To counter that, he beat the Russian giant Nikolay Valuev over 12 rounds and also lasted 12 with Wladimir Klitschko taking some sold shots on the way. I don’t believe David is ‘chinny’, but do believe Chisora takes the better punch.
It is intriguing. What happens if Haye lands his best shots early and Chisora keeps coming? Will Chisora get more frustrated by the round if he fails to nail Haye? It is so difficult to predict, but I just sway towards Haye doing enough to gain a decision. This is assuming there isn’t a disqualification and that in itself is a real possibility.
It will be interesting to see how the boxers react to each other afterwards. So often after these grudge fights, boxers have earned the respect of each other during battle and the animosity comes to a halt. I sincerely hope this happens here, but don’t put your money on it!