By Johnny Walker
A few people had expressed concern to this writer lately regarding the jovial, buddy-buddy nature of the pre-fight meetings between WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko and his opponent this Saturday in Munich, Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora of the UK.
“What’s with all the buddy-buddy, backslapping stuff?” one friend asked me after viewing the initial press conference for the fight. “What’s happened to the heavyweight division?”
“Don’t worry,” I replied. “Chisora is a loose cannon – he’ll do something crazy soon.”
And today, true to form, the predictably unpredictable Chisora slapped Vitali Klitschko hard across the face, instead of on the back, during the pre-fight stare-down, leaving a red mark on the champion’s cheek.
Instantly, the Internet was abuzz with reaction: does this mean Chisora has “giant balls,” or is he just a fool to rile one of the toughest heavyweights in boxing history?
Either way, it’s safe to say the interest level in this fight has suddenly skyrocketed. HBO may be rethinking its decision to take a pass on Klitschko vs Chisora before the weekend is over.
Such is the furor over the “slap heard around the world,” that the WBC has now gotten into the act, fining Chisora a hefty $50,000 for the transgression against etiquette.
“This is definitely a lack of respect for the sport and completely unacceptable,” WBC President Jose Sulaiman told Boxingscene.
“It was a cheap shot, and my message is that there is a fine, so he’ll feel it! [Chisora’s] no gentleman at all, and he’s failed in what we expect of boxers. He wanted Vitali to lose control, but Vitali will make him pay for this in the ring, definitely.”
The high-strung Chisora, meanwhile, has reiterated his plan to use “old-school” tactics to take the champ down: namely, the classic Joe Frazier “bob and weave.”
“Vitali’s height won’t present a problem,” Chisora contends. “He’s no bigger than [Robert] Helenius and look how I handled him.
“I’ve got to get inside and hurt him. I’m going to come in bobbing and weaving, take it to him Joe Frazier style and, trust me, I’m going to out-jab him. I might take a few grazes as I’m coming in but I’ve done loads of running and he won’t be able to stay with my pace.”
Strong words – we’ll soon know if Chisora, unlike his countryman David Haye, is more than just big talk.
And big slaps.