After the slap, we expected the slaughter. But it didn't quite turn out that way, even though Dereck Chisora was predictably beaten by the Ukrainian giant Vitali Klitschko in Munich last night.
The 40-year-old champion held on to his World Boxing Council title with a unanimous points decision, Chisora becoming only the fourth man to take him the distance in 46 fights. It was a clear-cut victory by 118-110, 118-110 and 119-111 on the cards of the judges but at least Del Boy proved he was no pugilistic plonker. He gave it a go but ultimately lacked the class and clout of Klitschko.
It was the gutsy performance of a warrior who at least in some way redeemed himself for the ridiculous scenes which had preceded the bout. Chisora had warned Klitschko he would be wild and unpredictable and at times he was. He was certainly fit and fast, and possibly gave Klitschko his most arduous night since Lennox Lewis nine years ago.
Although no blood was spilled during the contest there was plenty of bad blood beforehand and this continued right up to the bell and even after it. Yet the wide points margin, a difference of eight rounds according to the three judges, indicated Klitschko's superiority, if at times he began to look his 40 years.
The World heavyweight championship has become something of a family fiefdom with brother Wladimir holding four other titles, which he defends against Jean-Marc Mormeck in Düsseldorf on 3 March.
For Vitali, there is yet another fight on his hands – one on behalf of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, jailed for seven years for alleged abuse of office. He plans to eventually topple the government of president Viktor Yanukovych as leader of his own party, UDAR (the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform). But David Haye, hovering around the Olympiahalle, is hoping to cash in himself with a crack at Vitali, who says the Hayemaker needs to stop talking in telephone numbers before this can happen.
Chisora himself fancies a return – or a shot at Wladimir. "I've no excuses," he said. "The only thing that beat me tonight was experience." As he spoke, there was a chorus of disapproval from the crowd. "They can boo me as much as they like. They may hate me but I don't really care."
Maybe they would have had more respect for Chisora's challenge had he not indulged in such unsavoury episodes and that slap in the face is likely to become more of a hit in the pocket for himself with the WBC threatening a $50,000 fine out of his $250,000 purse and Britain's Board of Control set to haul him before them, not for the first time.
The shenanigans continued right up to the bell. Chisora threatened to pull out of the fight in the dressing room when he was ordered to re-wrap the hand bandages after they had been inspected by Wladimir, one of his brother's cornermen, because he complained of taping over the knuckles.
It was all part of the mind games and there was more in the ring when Chisora spat water into Wladimir's face. The antics enraged the 13,000 crowd in the arena where Olga Korbut first strutted her Olympic stuff.
Klitschko proceded to club and clip the challenger almost at will in the first four rounds with Chisora, fighting out of a crouch Joe Frazier-style, being caught repeatedly by that jolting jab. Luckily the Londoner has a good chin and to his credit he continued to press forward relentlessly, desperately trying to thrust his way through a very organised defence.
There was no doubting Chisora's gameness. Klitschko had said he expected a better fight from him than Haye had put up against his brother, and he was right. Klitschko landed solidly but Chisora just kept coming.
At the end of the eighth round, all three ringside judges had Klitschko more comfortably ahead than at times he had looked in the ring, one by five rounds and two by six. This seemed a slightly unfair reflection on Chisora's efforts, for although Klitschko was always in control, the challenger was not being totally outclassed. Neither was Klitschko showing the complete authority we are used to. Maybe age is catching up with him at last.
It was clear that Chisora's only hope was a knockout. He had promised one in the eighth but the fight reached its climax and proceded to the inevitable unanimous landslide victory.
Chisora's consolation was that he gave Klitschko one of the most gruelling nights for many years – though yet again he spoiled himself after the decision was announced with an "in your face" confrontation with both Klitschko and his brother.
This was finally interrupted by his promoter Frank Warren, who sternly shouted at him: "Stop it. Enough is enough." So it was. But not enough to dislodge the crown that still rests on the head of King Klitschko.Reuse content