Dereck Chisora revitalises an ailing career to reemerge as yet another heavyweight world title contender

Chisora is one of the most complicated characters in British boxing. And few expected to see him catapulted back into world title contention with an emphatic knockout win over Carlos Takam

Luke Brown
Sunday 29 July 2018 18:35 BST

Let’s just jump straight to the eighth round, because that’s the one that matters. All you need to know about the preceding seven is that Dereck Chisora spent a seemingly endless amount of time squeezed between the ropes in his own corner, as an obstinate Carlos Takam set to work on him with all the controlled fury of a puncher left alone with a heavy bag.

Cue two Hail Mary right hands which changed the course of the round, the fight and Chisora’s future in the heavyweight division. The first was sickening: a beamer of an overhand right thrown much like Lasith Malinga out in the middle, which crashed into Takam’s temple and saw him drop in a peculiarly vertical line to the canvas, like a man sinking wearily into his seat.

But it was the second which ultimately proved significant, a shot that later saw Chisora make a quick trip to hospital with an arm injury. Another hurtful overhand right, only this time administered to Takam’s chin for maximum impact. After throwing it Chisora took two steps back as if managing the recoil of a shotgun. Takam simply slid onto his back, with Howard Foster, the referee, waving off the contest without a count.

Chisora had earlier marched into the ring like a man taking on not just Takam, but the world. The word ‘WAR’ adorned his baseball cap and he had his customary Union Flag balaclava pulled up tight to just below his unblinking eyes. He is a showman in every single sense of the word, but even he could not maintain the carefully-prepared machismo after so unexpectedly snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

There wasn’t even a roar of triumph after this most primal of victories. Instead, he climbed up the turnbuckle and grinned disbelievingly into the crowd, a wide-eyed smile of unadulterated delight as Eddie Hearn danced behind him and his trainer, Don Charles, sunk to his knees, head tilted backwards and arms outstretched towards the blinking ring lights.

Later – well after what he had accomplished had truly begun to sink in, and Dillian Whyte had survived Joseph Parker’s late onslaught to send 20,000 punters home happy – Chisora took up his seat in one of the O2’s starkly-lit antechambers and began to dissect one of the defining nights of his career. It turned out he had some special to thank.

“This was a great night,” he said, his hurt right arm hanging loose in a sling. “I’ve been born again. These days I spend all of my time going to church and things like that, I’ve changed completely and performed a 360 degree turn on my life. I no longer do a lot of things, I have stopped drinking and everything else. I have found God in my life and everything has changed.”

Chisora is one of the most complicated characters in British boxing. And for all of the YouTube friendly misdemeanours you have already watched or read about – the time he glassed David Haye, or flipped a table prior to fighting Whyte, or shoved aside our very own Steve Bunce in an attempt to throttle Tyson Fury – there are other, mellower aspects to his character. He listens to jazz. He collects art. He loves dogs.

Ultimately, despite a 37-fight professional career dating back to February 2007, he remains a complete enigma to both those who train him, and those paid to write about him. “It took me many years of working with him to try and suss his moods,” his long-term trainer, Charles, commented late last year. “He's quite a sensitive guy, deep down, behind closed doors.”

Dereck Chisora revitalised his career on Saturday night (Reuters)

Chisora is now 34 – “but I feel like I’m 21,” he was quick to insist upon being reminded of that fact in the post-fight interviews – and despite the considerable buzz his latest victory has already generated, he knows he has entered the twilight of his career. A second world title bid would surely be his last. This is it for Chisora: one final chance to gamble big for glory, one final chance to befuddle and bewitch the British public.

With both Joshua and Deontay Wilder holding up the top of the heavyweight food chain for very different reasons, Chisora unexpectedly finds himself in a potentially lucrative position. “He has so many options now,” his promoter, Eddie Hearn, added in the early hours of Sunday morning. “And that’s remarkable at this stage of his career.

“He’s right up there in the world. And there are a lot of fights he can take next. He can fight Wilder next for the WBC title. No question. He can rematch Whyte. He can fight Jarrell Miller. But I would like to see him fight Wilder and that’s truly something given that a defeat would have seen us sitting here talking about what was going to happen next.”

The two men after their fight (Reuters)

Saturday night could have spelled the end for Chisora’s ambitions as a heavyweight boxer. In the end, it culminated in excited garbling about a potential world title shot before the year is out. Such is the whirlwind world of life in this blue riband division. Such is the depth of talent and pedigree in British boxing in 2018.

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