SOME in the industry did not take kindly to recent Boxing News complaints that too many fights occur up and down the country where the winner is all but pre-scripted. That gripe was generally aimed at small hall shows but, on Saturday night, the very same thing occurred atop a huge event on a Box Office platform.
Like so many ticket-sellers on the left hand side of the bill, Tyson Fury attacked the durable but outclassed Derek Chisora before taking his foot off the gas and coasting to victory. It should have been no more than a four-rounder such was the disparity in levels but, mercilessly, this did not end with a 40-36 card. This one went on and on until Chisora – literally spitting blood – could barely see through his swollen right eye or stand upright on unsteady legs.
It cost £26-95 to watch at home, the kind of price tag surely only applicable for the crème de la crème of boxing matches. This was not that despite, of all people, Gordon Ramsey’s pre-fight claim that contests like Fury-Chisora III only come along once every 20 years. Approximately one hour after Ramsey’s no doubt regrettable off-the-cuff remark, Chisora, now 38 and a long time in decline, had lost to Fury for the third time in 11 years.
Though the celebrity chef’s view was even more skewed than the pulped Chisora’s would be at the end of the fight, it’s certainly worth paying attention to. Because this proved, in 2022, you can serve up almost anything when you’re catering only for the uneducated. The vast majority in attendance did not seem to care that this was always going to be a one-sided beatdown so atrociously predictable that a £2,000 bet on Tyson winning would only have returned £2,100. Crucially, there were no complaints from those who paid to be there, aside of course from the moment the massacre was curtailed in round 10 and, with Chisora just about still upright as opposed to unconscious on the floor, they burst into a chorus of boos. The pantomime season is indeed upon us but boxing, though it increasingly treats itself as such, is not harmless fun.
Thankfully, as often occurs when the sport reaches new depths, there are signs of improvement for the coming year. Fury, we’re told, will next take on Oleksandr Usyk in a bout that will be truly unmissable. And to the WBC heavyweight belt-holder’s great credit, he made a promise to Joe Joyce, too. If it wasn’t for the post-fight histrionics between the three of them and the fights they will apparently lead to, however, Fury-Chisora III would be as unforgivable as any contest in history.
We should now be in, and at, an age when we’re wiser about the dangers of boxing. Frank Warren himself said a long time ago that Chisora should not be anywhere near a boxing ring. And though I have no doubt he’ll find this column disrespectful, I also remember a time when he would have found fights like Fury-Chisora III even more so. If any other promoter made that fight he would be quick to criticise. Eddie Hearn, who recently suggested Deontay Wilder as a viable opponent for the war-torn Chisora, is no better. The British Boxing Board of Control and the World Boxing Council are in this, too. That fight simply should not have occurred.
‘But we just sold out the glitziest football stadium in the country,’ is of course the counter-argument. In December, no less. That, on paper, is a job very well done. But we must look beyond the here and now.
The aim here is not to be disrespectful. Not to Warren or Fury, and most certainly not to Chisora, a man and fighter I have complete admiration for. Instead it is a plea to promoters, TV outlets, governing and sanctioning bodies to be more mindful of fighters and their futures. Yes, Chisora got paid handsomely, he got another chance to top a stadium bill, but – as Elliot Worsell so eloquently wrote on our website over the weekend – what’s the point if he can’t remember it all in a few years’ time? Moreover, how many of his team will be around to help when the almost inevitable rot sets in.
We know Chisora was Fury’s choice so, in that regard, Warren and co can claim they were merely keeping their client happy. But it certainly highlights why fights should be made on merit and not just on WhatsApp.
Predictably, as Chisora deals with the hangover from Saturday night, all he wants is more of what gave him such a banging headache in the first place. Like a hopeless drug addict he will refuse to quit. That’s not his fault, either. After being handed a taste of the best drug in the business, a world heavyweight championship stadium fight, it’s little wonder he’s eager for more.