By Chris Williamson
O2 Arena, London - Dereck Chisora, who had been in negotiations for a possible crossroads match on the Haye vs Bellew bill with Joe Joyce warmed up here with a second round knockout over Frenchman Zakaria Azzouzi.
It was Chisora’s first fight since a disappointing performance against Agit Kaybabel for the EBU title in Monaco last November and he shed the rust in the first round before landing a huge right hook to end the fight in the second.
Azzouzi has a good record on the face of it but was a cruiserweight until he returned to the sport after a four year break last year.
Afterwards, Chisora confronted Joyce promoter and former opponent David Haye and said he’d fight Joyce for Haye’s purse for the Bellew rematch if Chisora were to win and a nominal £1 if Joyce were to win.
Also on the card, Light-heavyweight Craig ’Spider' Richards (now 11-1) rebounded from his sole loss to Frank Buglioni last time out with a solid, efficient third round knockout win over Croatian Ivan Stupalo (now 12-12). Richards softened his man up with punishing left hooks to the body in the second before trapping his opponent in the corner in the third and finished him with a two handed assault.
The late notice Buglioni challenge probably came too early for the Londoner in hindsight and with this warm up out of the way young Richards can begin the climb to the domestic summit in smaller steps. The 27-year-old indicated afterwards that he’s in no rush but eventually expects to take over the division.
Jamie Cox bounced back from his first defeat in a ‘world’ title challenge against George Groves in October with a second round knockout over Yorkshireman Harry Matthews.
The Swindon southpaw landed a beautiful short right hook to finish Matthews and moves to 25-1. Cox is now scheduled to fight John Ryder in May at the same venue on the undercard of Bellew vs Haye II. Cox said afterwards he respects Ryder but is looking forward to the challenge.