Boxing: Chisora looks to convince the doubters
'Del Boy' will trade punches with one of the best on a night of three world title fights and more
When Dereck Chisora was shopping in Selfridges last week, someone asked if he was Audley Harrison. "No I'm effing not," he assured them emphatically – and might have added that neither will he be giving a passable impersonation of the discredited A-Farce when he makes his own challenge for a version of the world heavyweight title in Germany on Saturday night.
His pairing with Wladimir Klitschko, the WBO and IBF champion, is reckoned by some to be an even grosser mismatch than David Haye and Harrison but the Zimbabwe-born Londoner, 26, still a 14-fight rookie despite holding the British and Commonwealth titles, declares: "I'm not Audley. I love fighting and I'll show him how it's done. My heart is bigger than his. If you haven't got heart you're in the wrong business."
Is this just another example of heavyweight hubris? Those disaffected punters seduced by Harrison's snake-oil salesmanship may feel entitled to sniff cynically at the cockiness of a young man who is the least experienced title contender since Leon Spinks fought Muhammad Ali 32 years ago – and won. But if Chisora gets his probable pasting, at least he has the fortitude to take his lumps and go down fighting.
It is part of a world title trilogy, a fistic tale of three cities beginning in the evening in Liverpool, switching to Mannheim before midnight and concluding in Las Vegas just as dawn breaks here – a nine-hour telethon which hopefully will help to restore boxing's battered image.
At Liverpool's Echo Arena, the accomplished 23-year-old Welshman Nathan Cleverly, BSc, stakes his claim on the WBO light-heavyweight title against Spain-based Romanian Alejandro Lakatos, followed in Germany by Klitschko against Chisora and then Amir Khan facing the formidable No 1 contender Marcos Maidana of Argentina in the third, and most hazardous, defence of his WBA light-welterweight title at Las Vegas's Mandalay Bay.
Cleverly, unbeaten in 20 fights, is favourite against a 31-year-old opponent beaten five times in a 38-bout career. They contest what is an interim world title while the holder,the German Jürgen Brähmer, appeals against a 16-month prison sentence for assault. If he gets banged up, the title will go to Cleverly by default should he win. If not, he must meet Britain's boxing brainbox.
The show marks Frank Warren's 30th year as a promoter and he has assembled an impressive line-up of young talent, including the Olympic champion James DeGale's bid to become British super-middleweight champion in only his ninth pro fight. He and the holder Paul Smith are genuinely the best of friends but DeGale anticipates a hostile reception in the more experienced Liverpudlian's back yard. "I'm ready for that," he says. "In fact my trainer Jim McDonnell has been booing me when I work out so I'll be accustomed to it. But they'll be cheering me out when I win." He may be right, but it won't be one-sided.
Amid a fistful of championship bouts on a bill also featuring Cleverly's predecessor as Young Boxer of the Year, Kell Brook, the British welterweight champion and European middleweight champion Matthew Macklin, the light-heavyweight Tony Bellew and light-welter Frankie Gavin, Warren will keep an anxious eye on his man Chisora's tall order in Germany.
The 6ft 6in Wladimir may be the more vulnerable of boxing's twin towers, but he has a more lethal punch than big brother Vitali (the WBC champion), a left hook that explodes like a wrecking ball on any exposed whiskers. The last recipient, Shannon Briggs, ended up in hospital. The Hampstead car dealer who calls himself Del Boy is getting what he calls "crap money", £200,000, for his unexpected chance but unlike boxing's reputation, he has nothing to lose.
Maidana, 27, represents a serious risk to Khan. A square-on slugger, the cold-eyed hombre from Santa Fe has the mien of the bad guy gunslinger; he has 27 KO notches on his belt and like Khan he has been beaten once – a split decision against Andreas Kotelnik, from whom Khan took the title. Since Breidis Prescott caught him cold, the 23-year-old Khan has been taught by Freddie Roach to keep his chin tucked in and a protective right hand up. He also seems to punch faster with every fight, with some of his esteemed spar-mate Manny Pacquiao's technique rubbing off on him.
He knows he must play matador to Maidana's bull-like rushes and copy Nottingham's Carl Froch, who showed last weekend how to box a dangerous puncher in frustrating Arthur Abraham, keeping it at long range and not being drawn into a brawl. A fight with Floyd Mayweather could ride on this result. "I'd never fight Manny because he's part of the camp but Mayweather is definitely out there at the end of next year," says Khan. "He's a guy who has problems with speed so I'd be happy to take him on."
No argument about quantity in this bumper pugilistic package. The hope is that it will also contain quality.
'GR8 Britain vs The World' is exclusively live on Sky Box Office HD. To order, call 08442 410888
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