By Jake Donovan
It was a subdued – if not dull – setting during Tuesday’s press conference to announce the July 14 heavyweight showdown between David Haye and Dereck Chisora. Security was in place and a glass divider was placed in between the tables on the dais to ensure that the camps remained separated throughout the press event.
All of the precautions proved unnecessary, as both fighters were on their best behavior. While promises were made to remain civilized outside the ring, both also promised to turn it loose when they meet in the ring next month at Upton Park in West Ham, London, England.
“Outside the ring, I’ll do my best to behave,” assured Chisora, who returns to the venue that hosted his biggest career win to date, a 2nd round knockout of Danny Williams in May ’10. “Inside the ring, I won’t behave. It will be two animals in a cage.”
Chisora enters the fight having officially lost three of his last four bouts, including two in a row. The past two losses have actually helped raise his in-ring credibility, though his antics beyond the ropes have caused a firestorm of controversy.
A riot ensued in the wake of his loss to Vitali Klitschko this past February, the climax of a press tour that saw Chisora at his most disrespectful. From slapping the elder Klitschko across the face during a stare down following the weigh-in, to spitting water in the face of Wladimir Klitschko prior to the loss to Vitali, it was clear that Chisora was slowly losing his mind.
Given what took place at the post-fight presser, the aforementioned played like harmless stunts in comparison. The press conference was attended by Haye, which in effect served as the building block for this very fight. However, its antics nearly killed it as well as Chisora’s career, thanks to an epic brawl between his camp and that of Haye, including the infamous “glassing” incident.
The BBBofC has threatened lifetime bans for all involved in the making of this fight, but the show will go on thanks to the blessing from the Luxembourg Boxing Federation.
For Haye, the bout – his first in more than a year come fight night – is all about redemption. While Chisora is in the midst of a losing streak, his in-ring credibility has skyrocketed thanks to strong showings against Helenius – a bout in which many believed Chisora was the victim of an atrocious in-ring-robbery – and earlier this year against Klitschko.
Conversely, Haye’s stock plummeted in the wake of his disgraceful non-effort against Wladimir Klitschko last July. The bout was one of the most heavily hyped heavyweight contests in recent memory and also a rare occasion these days in which HBO willingly expressed interest in showcasing the big boys.
The evening became an epic bust, as 12 painfully dull rounds followed. Haye blamed his poor showing on a bum toe, which has become an ongoing gag in media circles around the globe.
The former two-division champ is well aware that entertainment is first and foremost on July 14, as opposed to doing the bare minimum to secure his first win in more than 18 months.
“I don’t just want to win the fight; I want to look awesome doing so,” vowed Haye (25-2, 23KO), who claimed to be done with the sport following the Klitschko debacle, only to end his faux retirement once the opportunity came to face Chisora. “I don’t doubt that I’m going to win. It’s just a matter of how.”
All that Haye asks for is civility, or at least controlled violence once the bell rings. Given the potential for drama between the ropes, an old and unintentionally hysterical George Foreman line comes to mind – the most important man in the ring besides the two fighters will be the referee.
Haye doesn’t seem overly concerned with the tools Chisora brings to the table. His only worry at the moment is the official selected to handle the event.
“We'll need a strong referee who won't stand for any fracturing of the rules, any bending of the rules,” Haye believes.
Chisora’s only concern seemed to be which David Haye will show up on fight night.
“I hope he’s coming to fight,” Chisora wondered. “Because I’m going to look for this sucker and I’m going to f*** him up.”
The only part of the statement with which Haye agreed was the part of their being no need to make this a boxing match.
Haye was forced to concede height and weight in separate bouts with Klitschko and Nikolay Valuev before him upon entering the heavyweight ranks. Next month’s showing will mark a rare heavyweight occasion for Haye in which he comes in as the bigger – or at least – taller fighter.
“It's been a while since I've had someone my size that I don't have to jump up to hit,” quipped Haye, who has 1 ½” in height on Chisora. “He's going to be there right there to be hit. There won’t be any reason for running.”
During the press conference, promoter Frank Warren revealed the supporting cast. Most of the announcements were merely confirming past reports, such as the evening’s co-feature between heavyweight titlist Alexander Povetkin and badly faded former champ Hasim Rahman.
Also appearing on the card is unbeaten welterweight Frankie Gavin (13-0, 10KO), fresh off a fifth round knockout of journeyman Laszlo Komjathi in late May. Gavin’s opponent for this show has yet to be determined, though is billed as a domestic title fight.
Matthew Hall (24-5, 16KO) attempts to bounce back from his heartbreaking points loss to Sam Webb this past April, as he steps up to face Jack Culcay (11-0, 7KO), an unbeaten prospect from Germany.
All told, five title fights (regional and worldwide) are set to appear on the show, which has reportedly sold 30,000 tickets with just over a month to go.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected].