By Jake Donovan
The controversy surrounding the ending of Dereck Chisora’s 6th round knockout over Malik Scott gave the Brit the biggest official win of his career.
What it won’t necessarily earn him is another shot at the world heavyweight championship – at least one that will be mandated.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s knockout, Chisora was announced as the mandatory challenger to the EBU heavyweight belt currently in the possession of Kubrat Pulev. Chisora openly embraced such a fight upon being informed of such news.
“Kubrat for the European title would be nice and he’s going to get knocked out or bring me another unbeaten Yank to spank in Deontay Wilder,” Chisora said in a press statement. “I’m back in business and ready for whatever comes my way from Frank. Whoever he puts in front of me I’m destroying, just like Scott, they’re going down.”
The likelihood of such a fight happening, however, isn’t very realistic.
Pulev (17-0, 9KO) has been stuck as the #1 contender in the IBF heavyweight rankings, but forever in search of a dance partner to establish a mandatory contender. A four-man elimination series was established last year, with Pulev scoring an 11th round knockout of previously unbeaten Alexander Ustinov in the first leg of the series.
The bout – which took place last September – was accompanied three months later by Tomasz Adamek’s controversial points win over Steve Cunningham in their rematch last December.
A head-on collision was ordered, but Adamek instead backed out of the fight and hasn’t fought since. The former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titlist returns to the ring on August 3 against faded fringe contender Dominick Guinn, who replaces an injured Tony Grano.
Pulev remains stuck in neutral, watching at least four separate heavyweights back out of a proposed title eliminator. Adamek was joined by Tyson Fury, Ruslan Chagaev and Alexander Dimitrenko (previously knocked out in 11 rounds by Pulev last May) as opponents who would rather be anywhere than on the other side of the ring with the unbeaten Bulgarian, even with the prize of a future title shot dangling overhead.
The eventual mandatory challenger will be next in line to challenge the winner of the Oct. 5 World heavyweight clash between lineal king Wladimir Klitschko and unbeaten Alex Povetkin.
Chisora is one of the few heavyweight contenders on the planet willing to run towards the sound of gunfire. However, his bravery won’t necessarily be properly compensated.
“The (proposed) fight between Pulev and Chisora would not result in a mandatory challenger for Klitschko,” IBF spokesperson Jeanette Salazar confirmed in an e-mail reply. “Pulev is still in line for the eliminator.”
Chisora is presently unranked by the IBF, though Scott was ranked #14 by the U.S.-based sanctioning body prior to last Saturday’s clash. Even prior to the bout, plans have been in place to secure a future opponent for Pulev, while Chisora and his team have already stated the intention to return September 21 in the U.K.
While there exists an argument that Chisora deserves a ranking based on the official result (controversial ending notwithstanding), the necessary procedures have to take place before a clash with Pulev is blessed as a final eliminator.
Pulev will eventually have to fight someone in order to gain mandatory challenger status. Whether or not it’s Chisora largely depends on the IBF’s search for a higher ranked contender to first accept assignment.
“At this point, (Pulev) is not the mandatory by default,” Salazar confirmed. “Lindsey (Tucker, IBF Championship Chairman) is still looking to complete the box-off.”
Among the contenders presently rated in the IBF’s Top 15 who would be eligible for the opportunity: American challengers Bryant Jennings (#3), Tony Thompson (#4), Seth Mitchell (#8), Johnathon Banks (#13) and Deontay Wilder; unbeaten Robert Helenius (#6), Sweden-born but now based in Germany; Cuba’s Odlanier Solis (#10); and Vyacheslav Glazkov, originally from Ukraine (#11).
Chagaev (#5), Dimitrenko (#9) and Adamek (#12) removed themselves from the running after declining on such a fight. Ustinov (#7) already lost to Pulev in the semi-final of the current box-off, with an 8-round points win over a non-descript opponent serving as his lone in-ring action since then. The status of Scott (#14 prior to Saturday’s affair) remains in the air, though an official protest likely won’t produce the outcome his team desires or even expects.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America.