Dereck Del Boy Chisora won the British heavyweight title 10 years ago, 28 fights ago, a sheepskin coat or two ago, a dozen faux fur diamond belts ago, a million miles away and he is still loving life in the boxing game.
Chisora has been up and down in the brutal business, shocked good men, toyed with bad ones, broke beasts, fearlessly chased ogres, had fist-fights, been in front of the authorities, spat at idols and traded with the very best during what is now an incredible career. He has spent five years in the last fight, five years battling against expectations and he is still here.
Tomorrow he fights Oleksandr Usyk, a man-mountain of humour and nastiness from the Ukraine, a man so revered in boxing circles, so loved by his people. In Ukraine they teach children a modern fairy tale about the great idol, the great fighter, the man that feeds the soldiers in the trenches and is unstoppable in a boxing ring. Usyk is the massive favourite. However, after a life dominating and unifying the cruiserweight division, this is only his second fight at heavyweight after 17 wins. He has also never been anywhere near a man with Chisora’s history, dimensions and ambition.
Meanwhile, at an archway gym in south London, Chisora yawns once again: “I have seen and heard it all before.” He most certainly has.
In 2010, just a few months after dismantling Danny Williams at Upton Park to win the Lonsdale belt, Chisora was in Germany for a world title fight with Wladimir Klitschko, who was the king of the world at the time. The fight was scheduled for Saturday, I interviewed him on the Thursday.
“He doesn’t want to fight me. I can tell from his eyes, he’s gonna pull out,” he said. On Friday, Big Wlad pulled out. The fight was rescheduled and once again Wlad pulled out. A year later, Manny Steward, who built the great Klitschko, admitted: “Dereck is all wrong for Wladimir.”
We never did get to find out.
In 2012 Chisora got the other Klitschko when he travelled to Munich to fight Vitali for the WBC title. It was a hectic, unforgettable and violent few days in Germany for Chisora and the roadshow of mayhem he was at the very centre of.
The fight was in the historic Olympic boxing venue, a place blessed in 1972 by Teofilo Stevenson’s fists and then the lunacy of Muhammad Ali’s brief affair with the cult British paratrooper Richard Dunn in 1976. Klitschko versus Chisora was perfect for the ancient ring.
At the weigh-in, Chisora slapped Vitali’s face. It was not a gentle stroke, it had weight. An hour before the fight, Wladimir demanded that Chisora take off his bandages and start the slow, very personal wrapping process again. There was a serious impasse before a deal was done. In the ring during the introductions Chisora spat in Wladimir’s face. A capacity crowd of 13 000 stood, the fight was on and it was a good fight, much closer than the final scores. It was Vitali’s hardest night since Lennox Lewis had cut him in their bloody brawl in Los Angeles in 2003.
And then it went bad and mad — here is the short version. At the post-fight conference in Munich, David Haye arrives and he is confronted by Chisora. They throw punches. Adam Booth, who trains Haye, is injured by a flying tripod and Don Charles, who trains Chisora, has his jaw broken. Haye is guilty for both. There is mayhem, the police arrive, Haye and Booth flee in a van. Booth fixes his cut scalp in my room and then leaves for the airport.
They get out on the first flight, but Chisora and Charles are detained by the Munich police. At 4am I get an urgent knock on my door, I slowly looked through the peephole. The police were there. One man has on a full leather coat, another has on a motorbike helmet with the visor down and a third has on a tight T-shirt with a pair of sunglasses. It looks like somebody has sent me a Village People tribute act. However, they are not joking.
Both Haye and Chisora have trouble with the British Boxing Board of Control after the scuffle. So, when they eventually fight in the summer of 2012, they acquire Luxembourg licenses. It is a great fight, Haye wins, 30 000 love it and the pair are friends. The Usyk fight is their fifth of a business relationship. “Dereck came to me, put aside ego and asked for my help. That took guts,” Haye said.
Chisora has also fought Tyson Fury twice, Dillian Whyte twice and stopped world title challenger Carlos Takam and lost a bad split decision to Kubrat Pulev, who in December fights Anthony Joshua. Del Boy is a survivor, a veteran now at 36 of 41 fights, including nine defeats. “Del Boy always comes to fight — I have always had respect for him,” Fury said.
The other men — well, perhaps not Vitali —have always said the same thing.
Big Vitali, Haye on the street, Fury in the ring, Haye in the ring, Pulev, Robert Helenius, Takam, Malik Scott, Whyte, Agit Kabayel, Williams and now Usyk. Dereck Del Boy Chisora now has serious form in the ring and is getting closer to becoming a national boxing treasure and in our business that is a rare breed. — The Independent