A pair of Hall of Fame promoters came fully prepared for the hard sell on their next heavyweight championship event.
Bob Arum and Frank Warren expected some resistance to the news of Tyson Fury defending his lineal and WBC heavyweight crown against countryman Derek Chisora in a trilogy clash that was far from in demand. Their bout will take place on December 3 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London, headlining on BT Sport Box Office in the U.K. and on ESPN+ in the U.S. as presented by Arum’s Top Rank and Warren’s Queensberry Promotions.
The silver lining is that Fury (32-0-1, 23KOs) gets to remain relatively active while waiting out a more desirable undisputed championship showdown with unified WBA/IBF/WBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13KOs). Such a bout was teased following Usky’s repeat win over Anthony Joshua on August 20 in Saudi Arabia. However, the unbeaten Ukrainian southpaw revealed that he won’t be available until the first quarter of 2023 to fully rehabilitate prior injuries.
Warren’s Queensberry Promotions was always keen on having Fury fight no later than December 3, which led the search to another big name—Joshua (24-3, 22KOs). Their well-documented negotiations ultimately ended without a fight in place, though with the two camps remaining in talks to instead produce Fury-Chisora III, as Chisora is managed by Joshua’s 258 MGT company.
“The reason why Tyson is fighting, his last fight was in April,” Warren explained during Thursday’s press conference. “The Usyk fight, if it happens, is not until next late February or March. If he didn’t fight in between, it would be nearly a year out of the ring, and that’s not going to happen. He needs to fight.
“I gave him my word that we’d put a show on by the third and we delivered. He needs to be in the ring. He needs to fight. He’s been training and he needs after this fight, if he comes through it, he needs to be in a position where he can get into a camp and have adequate preparation for a big fight.”
With the inability to convince Usyk or Joshua to take the fight came another method to secure Fury’s next opponent. It led to a third meeting with Chisora (33-12, 23KOs), whom Manchester’s Fury has handily defeated twice before. The two met as unbeaten prospects in July 2011, with Fury taking a twelve-round decision. Their November 2014 rematch was brutally one-sided, with Fury scoring a tenth-round stoppage one year prior to lifting the lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight championship off Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Fury has since resurfaced as the lineal/WBC heavyweight king, which he claimed in a seventh-round stoppage of Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42KOs) in their February 2020 rematch in Las Vegas after fighting to a disputed split decision draw nearly fifteen months prior. Two defenses have followed—an off-the-canvas, eleventh-round knockout of Wilder in their trilogy clash last October 9 in Las Vegas, and a one-sided, sixth-round knockout of countryman Dillian Whyte on April 23 in front of 94,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.
Chisora’s career following the two defeats to Fury haven’t been quite as impressive, sporting a 13-7 mark in his twenty fights following the repeat defeat to Fury. Among the defeats was an October 2020 points loss to Usyk, who then went on to twice defeat Joshua.
One of the losses was avenged, barely outpointing Kubrat Pulev over twelve rounds on July 9 at The O2 in London, coming more than six years after dropping a May 2016 split decision to the Bulgarian heavyweight and former two-time title challenger. The win over Pulev snapped a three-fight losing streak, including consecutive defeats to Joseph Parker, a former WBO heavyweight titlist and current Fury stablemate.
It was apparently enough to land a second career title fight. That and his pristine ranking with BoxRec.com, the sport’s official recordkeeping database.
“Derek Chisora is the highest rated available fighter we could find, according to BoxRec,” Warren explained. “Number one is Usyk, he wasn’t available for December. Anthony Joshua, we wasted a month on that. Deontay Wilder fought last week. Andy Ruiz is fighting Wilder, in a mandatory. Then you got Dillian Whyte, who Tyson’s beaten. Then Joe Joyce, who won’t be available because he only fought recently. [Luis] Ortiz got beat recently. Then you got Joseph Parker who Joe Joyce beat.
“Number nine is Derek Chisora. Number ten is [Kubrat] Pulev. That is the independent rankings. That is why we are where we are with the highest available contender.”
Warren’s promotional counterpart provided some examples of matchups proving far more competitive in the ring than on paper. One was the fact that Chisora was more competitive than expected against Usyk, who in turn scored two convincing wins over Joshua,
The other was from nearly 30 years ago, when Top Rank believed to have sealed a WBC/WBO unification bout between Lennox Lewis and Tommy Morrison. The two would eventually meet—two years later in a non-title fight, after both suffered upset knockout defeats. Morrison was the first to get clipped, in a fight that Arum and Top Rank never wanted to stage.
“I remember years ago, Tommy Morrison had won the WBO heavyweight championship against George Foreman,” Arum noted. “He was matched in a unification fight against Lennox Lewis for then record-setting purses. His manager said, ‘Give Tommy a tune-up fight to get him ready for Lennox Lewis.’ We did, in his hometown against Michael Bentt. The bell rings, Tommy runs across the ring and starts throwing punches like mad at Michael Bentt. Then Bentt hit him with a right hand and knocked Tommy cold. At that point in time, it was the end of a fight with Lennox Lewis and a ten million dollar purse for that fight.
“This is heavyweights. Anytime you match heavyweights against hard punching opponents, you have to say a lot of prayers that nothing bad is going to happen. So, while I have all the confidence in the world in Tyson Fury, who I believe is pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world. I will be as nervous as anyone on the night of the fight."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox