When David Haye finally met Dereck "Del Boy" Chisora it was in the best heavyweight fight involving two British boxers for over 20 years.
They fought under the auspices of the Luxembourg sanctioning body after the domestic version withdrew Chisora's licence. Chisora and Haye had grappled for the cameras in February but at the time of their July fight at Upton Park neither of them were banned; it was a simple fact that few recognised.
On the night a dreadful summer downpour could not deter just under 30,000 people coming out to watch the fight. Haye had not fought since the summer before when he had injured his toe losing on points in a disappointing world title fight against Wladimir Klitschko.
Chisora, meanwhile, had pushed Vitali Klitschko in a world-title fight in February in Munich; a few hours later he and Haye were rolling around on the floor – only Haye threw a punch on that particular occasion.
The fight's first press conference set the agenda for outrage when a metal grid separated them and they were left to exchange insults through the wire from just six inches. The real hatred, however, was evident in the eyes of both men, but somehow they held it together and even when the first bell sounded they kept their emotions in check.
There had been some ridiculous statements damning the fight from people inside the business and also salacious predictions of mayhem and violence on the night outside the ring. There was no trouble on the night and that is because the fight was an example of boxing at its best.
The fight was terrific from the opening bell with both taking tremendous risks in a desperate attempt to connect with heavy punches. It had the same urgency and nastiness that Lennox Lewis and Gary Mason had generated in their seminal meeting in 1991. They had also been at each other's throats.
Chisora and Haye often stared at each other at the bell to end each round, the crowd loved it and the intensity increased in round after round. Haye was probably just about in front going into round five but it was also clear that both had put a lot into the fight. I thought Chisora was looking stronger as the fifth started.
In round five, as the pressure mounted, Haye slipped to southpaw, wrong-footed Chisora and at that moment he connected with a stunning left. Chisora went down heavily, the crowd jumped as one and somehow through the fog of pain and confusion Chisora beat the count. However, Haye is a savage finisher and after a heroic exchange a combination sent Chisora down and out. The grudge fight was over and within seconds the pair were embracing.
The peaceful aftermath helped secure the fight its special place in British heavyweight history. Chisora will shortly re-apply for his British licence and Haye will do the same when he has a date for his next fight against Vitali Klitschko. In July they both fought like they had no future and that is what made it such a memorable night.
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