The re-match

By Steve Bateson on February 12, 2014
Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury are set to meet later this year in a re-match from 2011

Saturday marks the first time Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora will step into the ring in 2014. It was less than a year ago that both fighter’s seemed on very different paths, Fury was scheduled to meet David Haye in a world title eliminator whilst Chisora’s chances at the top level had been called into question, but now the landscape has changed and both men find themselves neck and neck as they search for a shot at the big time.

Chisora had a fantastic 2013 as he racked up four stoppage victories (Hector Avila, Malik Scott, Edmund Gerber and Ondrej Pala) and moved himself into the top ten rankings of the WBO whilst picking up the European Title along the way. He trimmed down by around three stone and looked all the better for it, the Gerber performance being his finest to date. The Finchley fighter put the demons of 2012 behind him (loss to Vitali Klitschko, brawl with David Haye and subsequent KO defeat to Haye) whilst putting the world on notice that he was ready for any challenge that comes his way, he believe 2014 is the year when he finally becomes a world champion.

On the other hand, Tyson Fury suffered an extremely frustrating twelve months and fought just once (7th round KO of Steve Cunningham in April) as he watched a mouth-watering domestic show-down with David Haye go up in smoke. Haye’s injuries curtailed Fury’s chances of proving he was ready to fight the best in the division and now he must begin 2014 in the same way he started last year; proving his credentials.

Fury is in the best shape now that he ever has been, great credit must go to his trainer and uncle Peter Fury, and his size will prove a valuable asset should he find himself in the ring with a credible opponent in the near future. But question marks still arise over his durability (floored against Neven Pajkic and Steve Cunningham) and his pedigree in the higher echelons. His best win was over a vastly overweight Derick Chisora in 2011, and sooner or later he will need to be tested much more severely than he has done in the past.

Could Fury’s test come against a man he has already beaten? After a promotional deal was struck between Fury’s promoter Mick Hennessy and Chisora’s mentor Frank Warren to screen Fury’s fights on Warren’s Boxnation television platform it has been mooted that Fury and Chisora will re-match this summer. The fight will likely take place at West Ham’s football stadium and we will see the winner moved into a mandatory position for a world title opportunity by the end of the year.

Chisora is certainly a different fighter to the one who Fury defeated three years ago (a 12 round UD) and it would be interesting to see how he copes against an opponent who is relentless with his attacks, Chisora didn’t have the stamina the first time around. Fury would remain confident of being able to outbox Chisora but many believe that the outcome of the fight would be very different should it take place.

It is an intriguing proposition but does a victory for either man prove their capabilities against the elite? Wouldn’t Chisora or Fury be better off targeting a fight with well-known ranked rivals such as Tomasz Adamek, Deontay Wilder or Kubrat Pulev?

Perhaps both men, and their promoters, are happy to feed off scraps and then cash in on a Klitschko challenge should it come calling but in a division that needs some revitalisation it would be fantastic to see the best challengers fighting it out to prove they are ready for the step up.

This Saturday sees Chisora take on America’s Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson, who was easily beaten on points by Fury in 2012, in a fight that will do very little to build Chisora’s image. Johnson is a spoiler who very rarely comes to fight, see his contest with Vitali Klitschko in 2009. Chisora will be forced to work hard against an opponent who has never been knocked out and the benefits of such a victory will unlikely get the boxing fraternity buzzing with excitement.

Tyson Fury isn’t doing any better as he lines up against the unknown “punching machine” that is Joey Abell (29-7 with 28 KO’s). It is hard to find a noteable victory on Abell’s record but his knockout defeats to Chris Arreola, Fres Oquendo and Kubrat Pulev suggest that Fury should have a very comfortable evening. I understand Fury has been out of action since last year, two cancelled fights against David Haye are responsible, but this bout doesn’t even constitute a test for someone ranked in the top ten of certain organisations.

Perhaps it is too much to ask for “contenders” to fight other “contenders” and with the inflation of championship belts it is less likely that this will alter in the future. But both Chisora and Fury could have picked opponents who would at least give them the ability to showcase what they can do in the ring.

Credit to Chisora, who has never backed down from a challenge, because the losses on his record are against highly ranked opponents; Tyson Fury, Robert Helenius, David Haye and Vitali Klitschko. But that doesn’t excuse him from taking soft options now, he is better than that and he knows it himself.

If fights with Wilder, Pulev et al where out of the equation then why not less-risky but more substantial opposition such as Alexander Dimitrenko, Manuel Charr or Denis Boystov? The card at the Copper Box on Saturday is a decent one but the abiity to make it so much better has been lacking, I can only put it down to bad match-making and a serious case of “overprotection”.

Chisora and Fury will fight in the summer, it is almost inevitable, and the winner will no doubt get their chance at superstardom, but will either be ready for it when it arrives? Fights against much sterner opposition would no doubt prepare them better than any give-me pushovers can.

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