by Terence Dooley
Everyone remembers the time that Dereck Chisora (27-8, 19 KOs) engaged in a spot of impromptu Feng shui at the final press conference ahead of what was supposed to be a British title showdown against London rival Dillian Whyte in Manchester in December 2016. Interpreting Whyte’s insistence that they would see each other post-fight as a threat of literal out-of-the-ring violence, Chisora decided to mediate matters by hurling the world’s flimsiest table at his rival.
The BBBoC met with him after weigh-in, handed him a fine, a two-year ban (suspended on the proviso that he behaves himself) and warned him about his future conduct. They had taken into account his past misdeeds: the bite against Paul Butlin, kissing, and riling, Carl Baker during a pre-fight stare down, a ringside spat with Tyson Fury, slapping Vitali Klitschko, spitting water at his brother Wlad and, last but not least—or not the last given the table incident—the carnage in the bowels of the Olympiahalle in Munich when he had a fracas with David Haye that went way too far.
However, and despite our obsession with what goes on, or off in some cases, at pressers the table fracas faded somewhat when Chisora handed Whyte a hell of a fight and was adjudged unlucky to end up on the wrong end of a split decision. “Del Boy” regrouped with a win over Robert Filipovic the following September before trundling to an anodyne majority decision loss to Agit Kabayel for the EBU belt in November.
Predictably, phrases such as “Bad for the sport”, “Another black eye for boxing” and “Bringing the sport into disrepute” were bandied about following his attempt to make table hurling a thing. However, in most cases they were used disingenuously as the press conference antics breathed life into a card that wasn’t setting the world alight.
The sport was born with a black eye and as far as I’m aware boxing has never really strayed into repute. Certainly not since the elite realised that they were mixing with the hoi polloi and jettisoned the sport into the realm of the base, the bad and the sordid—take your pick.
We like bad guys in boxing as long as they manage to be both bad and rein themselves in enough to ensure that the various “grudge matches” go ahead. Albeit after levying sanctions that, while tough, ensure that the fights still take place, give or take. Indeed, some fans bemoan Anthony Joshua’s clean cut persona, hoping that the day will come when he hurls a chair across the room or threatens to eat the children of opponents who have yet to taste parenthood.
While many enjoyed the respectful press conferences between Joshua and Klitschko, some complained about a lack of pyrotechnics despite the fact that, with exceptions (i.e. Barrera-Morales II and a few others), fiery pressers often lead to tepid fights, as if they either burned too hard before the bout or the animosity was fake and didn’t bleed into the performances.
What many fans want, and indeed crave, is a sense of authenticity from their fighters—particularly heavyweights, the madman’s maddest division by far—and, like it or hate it, we get that with Chisora, which is why he has been forgiven for the table throwing after putting in a hell of a stint on fight night itself. Either way, it is not an act with Chisora—and this is what makes him so compelling.
You can have moments of madness without being mad, many of them in fact, as we see with many sportsmen and women, but it doesn’t necessarily make you insane. Some people are “Flippers”, you could be having a quiet drink with them one minute and fending off a pub riot moments later. Chisora has always struck as one of those types, there is something in him ‘[T]hat’s like biting on tinfoil’ (Stephen King: The Stand)—and in a good way when he gets it right.
Like former opponent Tyson Fury you get a different person each time you meet Chisora. The first time I met him it was at a fight, funnily enough. I asked him if I could interview him, he stopped, thought about it for a few seconds then said “Maybe” and sauntered off. Then he walked back up to me, so I assumed we were on and got my tape recorder out. However, he just walked back through the door he’d just walked out from.
Chisora: Incident Two took place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool when Paul Smith lost his British Super middleweight title to James DeGale in nine rounds. I asked him for an interview, he said “No” and walked away. We were sat on opposite sides of the ring, he stared at me for about 10 minutes and walked over. An imposing figure even when smiling, he told the person next to me to move, said “You are one of those patient people, aren’t you?” and we did an interview. It was a bit of a coup as he had just found out that his mooted Wladimir Klitschko showdown had just been scrapped.
Job done, or so I thought. However, he clearly enjoyed my company as he decided to watch a few fights with me and chatted away. Joe Selkirk was boxing Steve O’Meara and he talked about their boxing skills. I was going to ask for his number to do a follow up interview, before I could do that he stood up abruptly and walked away without saying goodbye.
After obtaining his number from Richard Maynard, Warren’s then-PR man and the person who used to be tasked with looking after Chisora’s Pomeranian before press conferences (RIP Chewy—Chisora’s fiancée’s Pomeranian was killed by two guard dogs in September 2016 after straying into their garden, prompting the heavyweight to post a message and photo on his Twitter feed). I tried to phone a few times for a follow up interview. I would remind him who I was, he would said he knew who I was, and then he would put the phone down.
Incident Three was a brief one. I saw him at a fight, said “It’s me, Mr. Patience” and asked him for an interview. He said “I recognise your face” and walked away.
Chisora: Incident Four was the last time I saw him in the flesh. It was immediately after Fury had thrown his shirt down at the O2 and challenged him to a bare knuckle fight. Chisora was visibly shook up and I remember thinking Fury would have the edge if they ever met as Chisora had met his match. Naturally, I chanced my arm and asked for a quote, he replied with “Did you see what just happened, man, ask me later” and stormed off as Jane Couch hurled abuse at him for snubbing us both.
So four meetings, all of them mixed. I guess I got to meet a few versions of the man online fans call “Chisel”: the dismissive side, the friendly side, the boxing fan, the commentator and, in my opinion, the more rational side of Chisora, the side that realised that Fury was further up the “flipper” scale than he was.
Against Whyte, we saw the fighter once again, the man who has held the British, Commonwealth and EBU titles, went the distance with Klitschko and was adjudged to be unlucky when losing to Robert Helinius in December 2011 (although I had him losing that one). Against Whyte, he rolled back the years to that rolling style that he used to use to great effect and, in truth, it should have resulted in his hand being raised at the end of the fight.
It wasn’t to be, but he showed that there is life in the old dog yet in a fight that reminded me of former foe Danny Williams’s first meeting with Matt Skelton—a bruising heavyweight encounter that resulted in a close but clear win for Williams.
Why am I saying all this? Well, and without wishing to send IKEA’s stock price soaring, it is time for Chisora to get angry again. Not kissing opponents, spitting, slapping, and hurling tables “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” crazy, but he lacked an edge in his last fight and some of his best performances have come when he has that gleam in his eye.
Although he has to be on his best behaviour due to that Board decision, I sincerely hope that the 34-year-old manages to regain and retain his edge for what remains of his career, as he is both a tinderbox and a raging flame, so if you put him in potential flashpoints then there will be flare ups. Put him in the right kind of mood and push him into the ring and there will be good fight. The key isn’t to punish him, just manage him effectively in the weeks leading up to the more tasty encounters.
Indeed, the news that David Haye offered Chisora £80,000 to meet Joe Joyce who has only had one fight, an eighth-round stoppage over Ian Lewison in October, at the O2 on May 5 has hopefully stirred something in “Del Boy”. Joyce will fight meet Rudolf Jozic at the York Hall this Saturday yet if a fight with Chisora happened in May the Olympic silver medallist would still be a novice.
You can understand why Chisora turned it down to pursue a few more big fights and paydays. Still, if he sees that cheeky offer, and it was cheeky, as a sign of disrespect we may yet get to see a raging Chisora once again, which would be a good thing for the domestic heavyweight division.
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