“He’s a throwback,” says Eddie Hearn fondly of Dereck Chisora, the rugged British heavyweight preparing to go to war at the O2 Arena for a 45th and perhaps final time.
The promoter is speaking at the press conference for Chisora’s upcoming fight against Kubrat Pulev, which naturally takes place in the sky. (On a table in the sky, to be exact – find out more here.)
Hearn – and perhaps also Chisora – is aware that Pulev could be the final opponent of one of the most remarkable careers in modern British boxing. For more than 15 years, Chisora has been a thrilling, abrasive, often controversial figure whose fights were rarely anything other than box office.
Age and maturity has brought a thawing in his personality – his children will be attending the Pulev fight, a first. “I can’t lose in front of my kids!” grins Chisora. Whatever happens, the boxer known as Del Boy has done himself and his family proud.
We’ve rolled back the years to revisit some of Chisora’s most memorable moments – both inside and outside the ring. Fasten your seatbelts, and keep them fastened until Saturday night.
Taking on Tyson Fury
Doesn’t this seem long ago? In 2011, Fury and Chisora were a pair of young unbeaten heavyweight prospects thrown together in one of those domestic dustups that British boxing does so well. Fury prevailed on points, although it would be Chisora who fought Vitali Klitschko for the heavyweight title the following year (see below). In 2014, the pair met again for the chance to take on Wladimir Klitschko. This time Fury’s victory was more emphatic, with Chisora’s corner saving their fighter from his own bravery in the tenth round. It could have been the end for Del Boy but his career had plenty more mileage in the tank. God knows what happened to Fury…
Antagonising the Klitschkos
Not many boxers fight for the heavyweight title coming off a loss but then Dereck Chisora isn’t most fighters (and the loss in question, a split decision to Robert Helenius, was a complete robbery). It’s strange to think that Chisora’s fight with Vitali Klitschko will almost certainly be his only title challenge – far worse fighters have received multiple shots in the intervening years. Anyway, Chisora certainly wasn’t overawed by the occasion or the brothers, spitting water in the face of Wladimir before taking Vitali to the bell. The aftermath proved eventful, too…
The David Haye fight
For those of a certain age (hi), Chisora’s rivalry with David Haye was the moment they truly fell in love with boxing and all its wildness and weirdness. First there was the press conference altercation, with Haye punching Chisora while holding a beer bottle (“he glassed me!” screamed Derek). The fight itself had to be sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation, the fighters were separated by steel fences throughout the buildup. Few would have guessed that Haye’s knockout win would be the last significant one of his career, nor that he would end up managing Chisora in later years. What a sport.
The Dillian Whyte Wars
“Who is the donkey now?” One of the great British rivalries of the 21st century, Chisora and Whyte are far more similar than perhaps either would care to admit: two hard, hard souls with the ability to start conflict in an empty room, streetfighters yet also showmen. Chisora threw a glass of water in Whyte’s face during their Gloves Are Off confrontation; he went one better in the press conference and threw a table. The first fight was a brutal classic, a twelve round slugfest in which both men sent each other reeling around the ring – Whyte being awarded a continuous split decision. Chisora was winning the rematch until Whyte knocked him out in the eleventh.
The Carlos Takam Knockout
One of the most dramatic knockouts ever seen in a British boxing ring. Heavyweight contender Carlos Takam was fresh off a credible loss to Anthony Joshua and knew the road to a rematch lay through Chisora. The Frenchman was on top in a predictably heavy-hitting affair and looked likely to stop his British rival. Instead it was Takam who ended up on his back after an overhand right from the Gods. The win regnited Chisora’s career, sending him into the Whyte rematch and then a succession of victories under new manager David Haye (that will never not seem weird).
Usyk and Parker
Only Dereck Chisora could lose three fights in a row and see his reputation enhanced. Undisputed cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk needed a test at heavyweight before taking on Anthony Joshua and he thought Chisora would give him one. He was right. Chisora showed no respect to the P4P great, bull rushing him around the ring en route to a narrow loss. His next defeat to Joseph Parker was even closer, with many viewers thinking Chisora's aggression was enough to earn the decision. The rematch was less close but more dramatic, Chisora going down three times yet refusing to quit. Few fights have better summed up a boxer’s career – and his ongoing appeal.