By Johnny Walker
By any standards of civilized society, of course, the brawl that took place between Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora and David Haye in Munich last Saturday at the post fight press conference for the Vitali Klitschko vs Chisora title bout, as well as Chisora’s other actions leading up to the fight—slapping Vitali’s face at the weigh-in, spitting a stream of water in his brother Wladimir’s face during the fighter introductions—cannot be condoned.
The actions Chisora took in those instances were undeniably ugly and discomfiting to watch. The Klitschkos have always conducted themselves as classy ambassadors for the sport of boxing, and to see them treated so poorly was troubling for all but the most dedicated of Klitschko haters out there.
The Klitschkos, however, may have unwittingly brought some of this on themselves.
Think about it. David Haye has made a lucrative career for himself out of being Klitschko public enemy number one. From the time he infuriated Vitali Klitschko by wearing a T-shirt featuring the heavyweight champion brothers’ decapitated heads, and also confronted Wladimir Klitschko on an escalator in London, Haye has reaped a ton of publicity–and made a ton of money–out of his notoriety as the man the Klitschkos love to hate.
This was capped off with a multi-million dollar payday for Haye in an anemic performance against Wladimir last year in Germany.
Dereck Chisora may act in a thuggish manner, but he is not a stupid man. He had no doubt noted the success Haye has had acting as the “Official Klitschko Nemesis,” and saw that Haye was about to milk that role again by getting himself a mega-fight with Vitali, a fight based solely on the fact that the elder Klitschko loathed Haye so much.
So Chisora decided to do something about it.
First, he slapped the WBC champion hard across the face at the weigh-in for their fight. Haye had refused to shake hands with Wladimir before their fight, but this move from Del Boy was far beyond the pale. Where Haye had been play-acting the bad guy role, Chisora actually WAS the bad guy. The Klitschkos were flummoxed as to exactly how to respond to this new threat, with Vitali promising to “give his answer in the ring.”
Then, during the fighter introductions in the ring, Chisora spit a stream of water into Ring magazine world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko’s face. Klitschko again was understandably taken aback, and confused over how to respond. Should he keep his cool, or walk over and smash Chisora in the face? Again, this was much further than David Haye had ever gone.
Then, unlike Haye, who ran away from Wladimir when they got together in the ring, Chisora actually stood up to Vitali. The elder Klitschko seemed surprised at the Brit’s toughness, as Chisora rallied to definitively win some rounds against the man who had arguably not dropped any of them since he came back from retirement. Klitschko hit Chisora with some right hand bombs that had little effect. It took a real summoning of will from the champion to turn the tide back in his favor over the latter rounds of the fight.
As a result, the brawl between Chisora and Haye at the post-fight press conference was, in a way, a battle between the two men vying to be the Klitschkos’ biggest enemy. The Ukrainian brothers’ canny manager, Bernd Boente, quickly sized up the situation and realized this, offering a shot at a Klitschko to the winner of a “box-off” between Haye and Chisora. The winner would be unofficially awarded the title of Official Klitschko Nemesis.
Now, the dynamic that has existed for the past few years between Haye and the Klitschko brothers has been upset by an interloper: Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora. Haye’s t-shirt and trash talk pales beside a hard slap and a stream of water spit in the face. How can the Klitschkos say with a straight face now that they hate David Haye more than they loathe Dereck Chisora?
Logically speaking, they can’t.
Chisora has gone much further than Haye ever did, posing a direct challenge to the manhood of the brothers. And he has also thrown down the gauntlet to Haye, directly threatening Haye’s lucrative role as the Klitschko’s most hated rival. Heavyweight boxing now has a new dynamic (or dynamics): Haye vs Chisora, The Klitschkos vs Haye, Chisora vs The Klitschkos.
While there will be short term condemnation and tut-tutting in the press, and perhaps even some fines and suspensions handed down, in the long run, Chisora will likely reap enormous financial benefits from his actions over the past week.
In that sense, Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora is crazy like a fox.