Magical memories of 2012 - Boxing: 'The fight was terrific from the first bell. It had urgency, nastiness'

14 July: David Haye v Dereck "Del Boy" Chisora

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The Independent Online

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.

Further reading:

Olympics: ‘Mo, Jess and Greg gave us a night no one could forget’ 4 August: That night in the Olympic Stadium - James Lawton

Football: ‘When Chelsea saw off Barcelona, the joy was in watching the spoilers have their day’ 24 April: Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea (agg 2-3); Champions League semi-final second leg - Sam Wallace

Athletics: ‘The roar for Ennis made the hair stand up on the back of my neck’ 3 August: Opening day of track and field at the Olympics - Simon Turnbull

Rugby Union: ‘It was eerie seeing England sticking it to the silver fern’ 1 December: Manu Tuilagi waltzes to the try line as England smash New Zealand- Chris Hewett

Cycling: 'Bradley Wiggins' achievement was greatest we have ever seen from a Briton' 22 July: Bradley Wiggins wins the Tour de France - Alasdair Fotheringham

Football: ‘We’ll never encounter anything quite like it again’ 13 May: Manchester City win the title in thrilling style - Ian Herbert

Football: ‘After losing the title in the cruellest way, Ferguson stood firm’ 13 May: United are denied the title in heart-breaking style Martin Hardy

Olympics: ‘Nobody personified it more than Hoy, the ultimate sportsman’ 27 July: Hoy leads out Team GB at the Games opening ceremony - Robin Scott-Elliot

Football: ‘An hour later Theo Walcott was a hero – given a standing ovation’ 26 February: Theo Walcott turns the jeers to cheers to steer Arsenal to derby victory - Glenn Moore

Golf: ‘This was it. The moment that would decide the Ryder Cup. A 10-footer for glory ... Get in!’ 30 September: Europe claim Ryder Cup in thrilling fashion - Kevin Garside

Tennis: ‘After Murray won he staggered in a daze, then held his head in his hands’ 11 September: Andy Murray ends Britain’s wait for a major - Paul Newman

Football: ‘That night Spain played thrilling, bold, beautiful football’  1 July: Beautiful Spain smash Italy in the Euro 2012 final - Jack Pitt-Brooke

Formula One: ‘Kimi’s Lotus win was F1’s most romantic result’  4 November: Kimi Raikkonen zooms to victory in Abu Dhabi - David Tremayne

Racing: ‘Frankel enlarged life’s comfort zone for us all’ 22 August: Juddmonte International Stakes; Frankel finally goes the full distance - Chris McGrath

Cricket: ‘A sweep for three and Cook had broken a 73-year-old landmark’  6 December: Alastair Cook breaks England century record - Ste