Yesterday, the BBBoC released the full details of their sanctions against Dereck Chisora (26-7, 18 KOs) after he 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 last Saturday night. 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 Board met with him after last Friday’s 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 last for that matter, the carnage in the bowels of the Olympiahalle in Munich when he had a fracas with David Haye that went way too far.
Predictably, phrases such as “Bad for the sport”, “Another black eye for boxing” and “Bringing the sport into disrepute” were bandied about last week. 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 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 this week’s press conference 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), but 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. 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 off.
Chisora: Incident Two took place at the Echo on one of those big Frank Warren shows (Senior/BoxRec edit moment: It was the Smith-DeGale bill on December 11 2010). 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. 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 at the time as he had just found out that his mooted Wladimir Klitschko showdown had just been scrapped.
Job done, or so I thought, but 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 he stood up abrubtly and walked away.
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 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 off.
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 fight. Chisora was visibly shook up and I remember thinking Fury would have the edge if they ever met as Chisora had met his pre-fight 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.
So four meetings, all of them mixed, and 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 human side of Chisora, the side that realised that Fury was further up the “flipper” scale than he was.
Last week, we saw the fighter 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, 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. Danny went on to become a sad parody of himself by fighting on for far, far too long yet it is unlikely that Chisora is likely to go down that route. With Whyte set to meet Sexton in defence of his British title next year, there is no reason why Chisora cannot grab a win, keep his nose clean and ask the Board for another crack at the British belt, he deserves it.
Oh, and although he has to be on his best behaviour, I sincerely hope that the 32-year-old manages to keep his edge for what remains of his boxing career. He is both a tinderbox and a raging flame, so if you put him in potential flashpoints then there will be flare ups. The key isn’t to punish him, just manage him effectively in the weeks leading up to the more tasty encounters.
Click here to go to Frank Warren’s Youtube page archive of Chisora fights and moments.