Boxing's uncivil war ended in a dramatic fifth round victory last night for the former world heavyweight champion, David Haye, who stopped fellow Londoner Dereck Chisora, twice flooring him in a savage battle which finally settled the differences that followed their unseemly brawl in Munich five months ago.
A noisy Upton Park became a Saturday night fever-pitch as a rain drenched crowd of 30,000 watched a fight, outlawed by the British Boxing Board of Control, end in a flurry of blows and a right hand punch which the 31-year-old Haye claimed "was the best I have ever thrown."
It was the second occasion on which Chisora, suspended by the Board for the incidents in Munich after he fought Vitali Klitschko, had been put down by Haye. The first was at the press conference following the Klitschko fight. This time, in the confines of the ring, Haye again demonstrated his superior punching power. Yet for almost six rounds we had seen a duel of unremitting attrition, at the end of which a truce was declared, the fighters embracing warmly with Haye telling Chisora: "You will be a champion one day."
It would be easy to dismiss this scrap as a squalid score-settling grudge match between two heavyweight hooligans in a bout that may have been morally unquestionable as it bypassed the Board of Control. In fact, while it lasted, it turned out to be a terrific encounter that demonstrated the true fighting qualities of both men.
There was no spitting, no slapping, though initially plenty of snarling. But from the first bell it developed into a real war of hate and hurt. In the opening round Haye had shown more aggression than he did in 12 against Wladimir Klitschko. His superior boxing skills were soon evident against a come-forward pressure fighter but Chisora chased and harassed him all the way.
There were plenty of brutal exchanges and little between them until the fifth when Chisora, still ploughing forward, was stunned by a left hook and then a right to the temple that sent him twisting and spinning to the floor. Luis Pabon, the Puerto Rican referee, looked closely at him as he rose at the count of eight but Haye was quickly on him again, sending him crashing back to the canvas with a five-punch flurry to the head. The final right cross landing flush on Chisora's jaw. The referee had no hesitation in stopping the fight as Chisora attempted to rise, even though just one second remained until the end of the round. Momentarily there was pandemonium in the ring as Haye was hoisted aloft and plastic water bottles thrown from the crowd.
Haye had entered the ring wearing trainers than boxing boots, an indication that he intended to concentrate on speed against an opponent with a two and a half stone weight advantage. He also wore a protective belt which reached up almost to his chest before referee Pabon pulled it down to waist height after a couple of rounds. There was no doubting the desire of both men to punch the hate out of each other, with Chisora warned in the second for an illegal rabbit punch to the back of Haye's neck.
He had Haye reeling across the ring at the end of the third and caught him with a chopping right in the fourth but the Hayemaker just smiled while he back-pedalled away. Chisora had said that by the fourth Haye would be, "Blowing out of his backside." But this proved not to be the case.
Haye said that in the fight they had settled their differences. "After sharing the ring with Dereck, I have new-found respect for the man. Whatever beef I had towards him is forgotten now."
He said that he had yet to decide on his future. He said he did want to regain his world title, but if this was his last appearance, he said: "I have to say I went out with a bang."
Frank Warren, who had challenged the authority of the Boxing Board by staging this contest when Chisora's licence was suspended, admitted: "These two settled their differences and buried all the rubbish that happened in Germany and showed us what boxing was all about.
"I have no regrets about staging this fight. This was one of the best heavyweight fights I have ever seen. I thought Haye really boxed well, he made me eat my words. He showed grit and toughness. Chisora just lacked that bit of experience."
The fight, staged under the auspices of the Luxemburg Boxing Federation also had the WBO and WBA giving it some credibility although there are those who think that the only initials that should have been affixed were ASBO. Chisora, when he had recovered, was quick to shake Haye's hand and reminded him: "I owe you 20 grand." That was the sum both had promised to give to a charity nominated by the other if they lost. While the battle might be won and the truce finally declared, the war now begins for the future governance of British boxing with the Board threatening to discipline all those involved in last night's "pirate" promotion. The sport now has a real fight on its hands.
A champion who also defied the Board ban, the unbeaten Commonwealth super featherweight title holder Liam Walsh added the vacant WBO European belt to his collection, stopping the Italian Domenic Urbano in eight rounds.
Irishman Gary O'Sullivan was a surprising victor over seasoned Mancunian Matthew Hall, winning the vacant WBO International middleweight championship on a unanimous decision over 12 rounds.