There are not many 37-year-old boxers with 10 losses on their record who do numbers quite like Dereck Chisora.
The Zimbabwe-born Londoner has never won a world title, has not even fought for one in the past 12 years and has lost three times on the spin in pay-per-view main events. But he is back at the top of the box office bill on Saturday night when he takes on former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker behind closed doors at the AO Arena in Manchester. Nobody has said Chisora should retire if he loses. Everybody stopped saying that years ago.
Even so, Chisora, who must go down as one of the most successful British heavyweights of his generation, has already made a plan for his retirement.
“When I retire I’m going to have a bonfire in my house,” he says. “Burn all my gloves, everything I won as an amateur. A proper bonfire night and burn everything. Sometimes boxing doesn’t look after their own so for me to hold onto boxing as much as others do, I won’t. If I ever retire I will have a big bonfire, put it on my Instagram and delete my account after that.”
His career received new impetus back in October 2018 when he appointed David Haye as his manager. The two had previously brawled at a press conference and then rumbled at Upton Park, when Haye knocked Chisora out inside five fiery rounds in 2012.
The decision to then bring him officially on board came straight out of left-field and was, in many ways, pure Chisora. Now Haye pulls the strings behind the scenes but admits it is not always an easy task.
“You can’t tell Dereck anything,” Haye says. “Dereck does what Dereck wants to do. You can suggest things, he doesn’t really take it on board a lot of the time. Generally, it’s very, very difficult to tell Dereck Chisora anything. He doesn’t want to hear it, he wants to hear what he wants to hear. Only Dereck will know when Dereck is done with boxing.”
Chisora makes no secret of the fact that he now does it for money. There may have been a time when titles and legacy were his No1 focus but, after 14 years a professional, he sees the sport as a business.
“Derek’s the ultimate prize-fighter,” Haye explains. “He’ll fight anybody, anytime. He’ll fight King Kong if you pay him enough money, that’s how he’s always been. A lot of fighters say they’re only in it for titles, accolades and the respect of the fans but it’s hard to buy a house with the respect of the fans. He’s got a family and he’s put a lot of energy, time and lost a lot of braincells in this journey.
“I feel particularly as a fighter gets older they need to try to secure themselves as best they can so they don’t end up working in Safeways – like has happened to many boxers in the past. I’m surprised by him daily, he’s very unpredictable. A lot of the stuff he does doesn’t make any sense whatsoever but it kind of works for him.
“Think about it, he’s just a lost a fight and his next fight is another pay-per-view, which he’s headlining - has that ever happened before? He’s had four pay-per-view events in the last four years, he’s never won a world title and none of those fights were for a world title, isn’t that crazy?
“That shows whatever he’s doing the fans appreciate it because if they didn’t Sky Box Office wouldn’t have him as the headliner. They obviously look at the numbers when Derek fights and realise he draws the numbers, he has the fans, people pay to watch Derek Chisora because when he fights, you’re going to get your £20 worth.”
Parker, too, has had mixed success on these shores. He outpointed Hughie Fury in his British debut in September 2017 but his career was derailed when he lost his world title to Anthony Joshua at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff four months later. He then capped a horror 2018 by losing to Dillian Whyte at the o2 Arena in the July. That night, Chisora beat Carlos Takam on the undercard.
Parker and Chisora have been circling each other for some time and were meant to fight in 2019 only for a mysterious spider bite to force the New Zealand father-of-three out of the clash.
That has led to Chisora, who once slapped Vitali Klitschko at a weigh-in, spat water in his brother Wladimir’s face and threw an entire table at Dillian Whyte, labelling Parker a “chicken” in the lead up to this fight in some of the tamest trash talk this country has ever seen.
Indeed, expect no fireworks this week when the pair mingle at the hotel bubble in Manchester. Parker, often labelled ‘too nice’ for a business like boxing, would only smile it off.
“Is he too nice?” Chisora ponders to nobody in particular. “I don’t know. It depends. He’s a nice guy but there’s nothing much happening in New Zealand. He’s a nice guy, that’s all I can say. How do I prepare for that? War. There’s nothing else I can do. I can’t get upset, he won’t wind me up, I just go in the ring and fight my fight which is war.
“It doesn’t change how I feel or how I fight. A fight is a fight. Sometimes there is drama because there is too much ego going on. Like when I fought Dillian there was so much intensity going on, a lot happening behind the scenes. But with Joseph there’s nothing happening behind the scenes because he’s not that character. You can’t make anything behind the scenes with him.
“But never mind that. For me, I know I will bring war to him.”
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