Chisora vs Whyte – My Fight Of The Year
By: Oz Ozkaya
Well, well, well. It has been just over 5 months since I wrote a devastatingly harsh piece on the status quo of world level heavyweight boxing, and I am saddened to say that this notion was proven once again in Saturday’s underwhelming clash between IBF world champion Anthony Joshua and challenger Eric Molina. Prior to this, the recent fight between Luis Ortiz and Malik Scott in Monaco last month had a similar effect, in addition to the dire showing between Dereck Chisora and Kubrat Pulev that we witnessed back in May. Maybe I am being a little cynical with my criticism of Joshua, after all, it’s not his fault he’s easily able to knockout the mediocre opponents that are always put in front of him!
Yet, as you recall from my last heavyweight-boxing piece, I am here to say that there may yet be some brighter days ahead. Chisora and Dillian Whyte made me very aware of this during their undercard performance on the Joshua vs Molina show. They proved me and my anti-heavyweight division rhetoric wrong in such gladiatorial fashion that the main event that followed had a near impossible task of living up to it. I can’t remember the last time such a scenario occurred in boxing.
Chisora (26-7), a now 32-year-old veteran of the sport, behaved like a human rhino in the build up to the fight – puffing a lot of steam and making a lot of noises. One scene, in particular, resulted in a table being thrown in the middle of a press conference, this resulted in Chisora being slapped with a £30,000 fine and being handed a two-year ban (suspended) by the boxing authorities. Whyte, on the contrary, was in such a chipper mood during Chisora’s meltdown that he decided to goad and excite ‘Del Boy’ further, which accumulated in bottles being thrown from all corners and trainers and coaches alike looking for a piece of the action too.
Weeks before this, unsurprisingly, Chisora and Whyte had engaged in a near “fisty cuffs” affair at a Sky presser before being separated by a rather speedy army of security. Chisora, again, the culprit on that occasion that sparked the fire by exploding a bottle of water on Whyte (excuse the reverse pun) before motioning towards him in a “ready for battle” manner. This scene only fuelled public interest for the fight; I, however, still wasn’t convinced. After all, we have been here many times before with this overly scripted WWE styled melodrama, right?
For Chisora, many (myself included) had dubbed this fight as an almost ‘last chance saloon’ at the time of its announcement. Having previously fought and lost to Wladimir Klitschko, David Haye, Tyson Fury (twice) and Kubrat Pulev at world level, it would be easy to think that there aren’t many corners left for Chisora to turn to if he were to lose this one. But, lose he did. However, this is where the story gets interesting as I believe that Chisora did just about enough to take the victory on the night. Chisora was in the best shape and form of his career. It was a big change to the overweight and out of touch character that we had seen a few times in the past.
Dillian Whyte, on the other hand, will be overjoyed to have nicked the victory on Saturday. Only a year after his spectacular matchup with Anthony Joshua at the 02 Arena in London, Whyte looks more focused and better than ever. The one thing does remain from that loss to Joshua is that Whyte is still one hard-headed machine. A number of crushing haymakers and steely uppercuts Chisora landed on him were getting beyond countable towards the end. His resilience and determination were two factors that may have earned him the victory from those two judges. The split decision really did say a lot.
After the sluggish affair that followed this firework like frenzy, you may have wished that Joshua had been billed to fight one of these two instead. There was energy, determination, resilience and desire on both sides. And although it was originally only billed as a British title fight (which the boxing board subsequently aborted following the antics of Chisora) the fight actually lived up to world title level, which is fitting considering Whyte will now be one step closer in the eliminator contest for Deontay Wilder’s WBC crown.
On the night it was during the 5th round where I believe the show really took off between Chisora and Whyte. Chisora seemed more charged up at the start bell before he wobbled Whyte with a thunderous overhead right – a punch that may well have ended another opponent.
The following round it was clear to see that the adrenaline rush had slowed Del Boy down, and it was in this period where Whyte came back with some lethal combinations of his own.
In the 8th and 9th, both Men offered some sublime boxing virtuosity, Whyte, in particular, using some great jab for jab combinations and scoring intelligently against the now deflated Chisora. However, Chisora would go on to land another huge left hook that would have led you to believe it was the beginning of the end. Whyte was again resilient and somehow hung on in.
In the 10th Chisora excelled again by appearing to have landed the punches with greater effect, and I for one was stunned at how Whyte was able to sustain such power. At this point, I had a flashback to last year when Whyte so admirably gave Joshua his longest and most difficult fight.
As the 12th came around you wondered if either fighter had any energy left in the tank, but as their determination kicked in at the start of the bell you knew that it was going to end in an appropriate style. Both men extremely sluggish, but still had enough encouragement to try for the knockdown. It wasn’t to be, and Whyte nicked it 115-113. 115-114 to the one judge who scored it 115-114 to Chisora.
The aftermath reaction of the fight just goes to show the profound effect that this match has had, with many in the boxing business and outside calling for a second fight on its own headline. I don’t usually rant and rave about a heavyweight contest in the way that I am about this one, especially as I was adamant that it was going to be a lousy fight with two over deflated heavyweight’s looking for a fast payday, it just wasn’t to be.
I do feel slightly sorry for Chisora after this one though as his record now has another unnecessary blemish following his previous loss – another split decision to the fridge sized Bulgarian, Kubrat Pulev. Whyte should be in no rush for his heavyweight title chance if and when that comes against Wilder. He and his promoter should be thinking of getting in the ring with Chisora again, using the experience gained from the win and training that little bit harder to try and beat Chisora just that little bit more convincingly.
Hopefully, this match will invigorate the rest of the heavyweight division as more fights like this are most definitely needed to keep up public interest. Far too many pointless and unappetising showdowns have left many of us looking elsewhere for that quality boxing entertainment.
Dereck and Dillian, I tip my hat to you both!