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Dereck Chisora simply must win

Dereck Chisora
Action Images/Peter Cziborra
Dereck Chisora’s future depends on victory over Szpilka, writes Daniel Herbert

AT 35 and after numerous tough battles against top heavyweights, Dereck Chisora bids to stay relevant when he boxes Artur Szpilka over 12 rounds on the Whyte-Rivas card.

The Zimbabwe-born North Londoner has a 30-9 record with 21 early wins and three of his losses coming inside the limit. In a 12-year pro career he’s met just about everybody except Anthony Joshua, but he has tended to fall short in the really crucial contests.

Vitali Klitschko outscored him in a 2012 WBC title fight, while he’s also lost to Tyson Fury (pts 12 & rtd 10), Kubrat Pulev (pts 12), Robert Helenius (pts 12 in a robbery), David Haye (rsf 5), Agit Kabayel (pts 12) and Dillian Whyte (pts 12 & KO 11).

That crushing 11th-round knockout by Whyte in December – one huge left hook put him down and out – appeared to end his days as a contender. But he refused to quit and in April came back to outpoint moderate Senad Gashi over 10 rounds.

Now here he is against Szpilka, a 22-3 (16) southpaw who is in some ways his Polish counterpart. The 30-year-old from Wieliczka has beaten plenty of nothing-special opponents but when he stepped up in class to challenge Deontay Wilder for the WBC title in 2016 he was KO’d in nine rounds.

He’s also lost inside the distance to the USA’s Bryant Jennings (rsf 10) and countryman Adam Kownacki (rsf 4). Szpilka has won his last two, against faded names in Dominick Guinn and Mariusz Wach, but had to go the 10-round distance against both, which suggests he isn’t a devastating puncher.

Chisora, now managed by former conqueror Haye, must win this fight to have any sort of future in the sport. He should have enough left in the tank to do so. Spilka’s portsided stance will make things tricky early on, but Chisora’s experience and determination can see him home on points.

Chisora

A cruiserweight 10 between men with 9-0 (8) ledgers sees Walworth’s Richard Riakporhe face off against Chris Billam-Smith from Bournemouth.

Riakporhe was taken the (four-round) distance on his debut, but has won all his subsequent fights inside time. In November he stopped the 13-0-1 Sam Hyde in eight, and four months later he notched a fourth-round stoppage of 13-1 Tommy McCarthy.

Billam-Smith has been taken the distance just the once, by Slovakia’s Michal Plesnik in an eight-rounder, although the Dorset man is really more a sharp-hitting boxer than an explosive puncher. It’s a tricky one to pick, but we’ll go with Riakporhe to retain in about eight exciting rounds.

A 10-rounder for the vacant Southern Area light-heavyweight title sees Canning Town southpaw Charlie Duffield, 7-1 (6), take on Lewisham’s Dan Azeez, 8-0 (5).

It’s a big step up for both men, with neither having contested a bout over the 30-minute course. So far they’ve been chugging along down the bill against domestic journeymen and imports, with the only blemish for either being Duffield’s sixth-round stoppage loss to Vladimir Idranyi of Slovakia in 2016.

Charlie was cut above the left eye in that one, and was also on the deck in an early-career two-round win over Richard Harrison, which suggests a gruelling 10-round distance battle may not suit him. Azeez can outlast him for the win on points.

Also in action, but without an opponent at the time of writing, is Hackney puncher Lawrence Okolie in a 12-round defence of both his British and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles. Okolie has won all his 12 fights, nine inside the distance, and at 26 should soon be making his move on the international stage.

The Verdict Chisora really will have nowhere to go if he can’t beat Szpilka.

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