“Derek Chisora should retire, end of story,” Frank Warren said emphatically earlier this year. “The only way Tyson Fury fights Chisora again is if we were struggling for an opponent or if Tyson insisted on it. Chisora should retire. He shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the ring, let alone in there with Tyson.”
Only 11 months later, Warren is promoting the very fight that seemed such a shameful idea in January when Chisora was recovering from a second successive loss to Joseph Parker. Chisora, as always, had fought with great courage against Parker and there was no shame in him suffering his 12th defeat in 45 draining fights which stretched back to his professional debut in February 2007. Yet concern for Chisora, who has been subjected to far too many blows to the head, intensified. The damage he has already suffered is obvious and any additional bout could pose a serious threat to his health.
Yet he and Fury, who has already twice beaten Chisora convincingly, have been banging a forlorn drum for their disturbing rematch on Saturday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Fury has insisted that this is a history-making encounter and even claimed it was one of the reasons why he ended his brief “retirement” earlier this year when, after bludgeoning Dillian Whyte to defeat at Wembley Stadium in April, he swore that he would never box again.
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Of course no one believed him and Fury, in announcing that he would defend his WBC world title against Chisora, made the following inaccurate claim: “I’ve decided to come back because I can be the first heavyweight champion in history to have two trilogies, one with Deontay Wilder and a second one with Derek Chisora. I always said I would fight Chisora again and here we are breaking all records, setting precedence.”
It is enough to raise a weary sigh and an obligatory nod to three proper trilogies in heavyweight history. Muhammad Ali’s brutal and unforgettable trilogy with Joe Frazier comes from an era when boxing carried real meaning in wider society. Ali also fought Ken Norton three times, in their see-sawing rivalry, while Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe staged their own memorable trilogy. Holyfield also fought John Ruiz on three occasions. The main difference between these bouts and the bleak affair which will stagger to its conclusion in Tottenham is that the other encounters were elevated by a thrilling parity. They were proper trilogies – and there are others in heavyweight history – when each fighter won at least one bout against his opponent.
Chisora, instead, was outclassed both times he fought Fury. In 2011 Fury won a wide victory on points while, three years later, he stopped Chisora in the 10th round. Since then, Fury has improved beyond all recognition and he is now the dominant heavyweight in the world who has added real concussive power to his superior boxing skills. In contrast, Chisora has lost seven of his 20 fights since his second defeat to Fury.
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That mediocre record matters little when it is set against the pummelling that he has absorbed over the last eight years. Chisora, at 38, has apparently invested a sensible chunk of the money he has made and he does not need to fight again. But he and Fury are friends and they struck a deal to meet for a third time. “I can’t sit here and try to be more aggressive to Tyson and say bad words because the man is giving me an opportunity when nobody wanted to give me an opportunity,” Chisora said this week. “He called me up and said: ‘I want to fight you and give you a big pay-day.’ I said: ‘Let’s make it happen.’”
Fury has stressed his admiration for his fighting friend and said that his own children are ardent Chisora fans. It might even be heart-warming that he will help Chisora’s pension plan – but the worry remains that the man seemingly destined for another beating may not be well enough in the coming years to enjoy his pension.
This is just a warm-up for Fury before he faces a real test in a world title unification contest against the undefeated Oleksandr Usyk, the IBF, WBA and WBO champion who has beaten Anthony Joshua twice. But he and Chisora insist they will go to “war” in the ring. “The man’s got balls,” Fury said of Chisora, “and in today’s society, in boxing, there’s a big lack of balls. When you get two heavy forces colliding with massive bombs, guess what? Someone’s getting knocked out. Me and Chisora are gonna put on a helluva fight and may the best man win.”
It is a depressing fight that says much about the abject state of boxing today. The only consolation is that a few hours after Fury and Chisora leave the ring, a magnificent trilogy will reach its culmination when Román ‘Chocolatito’ González and Juan Francisco Estrada fight for a third time in Arizona. González won their first bout and Estrada the second. Their deciding fight, for the WBC title, will settle a compelling rivalry between two outstanding and evenly-matched super-flyweights. It will also be a reminder that Fury, far from making heavyweight history, is not even involved in the most significant trilogy of the night. – Guardian