THE third fight between Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora is a hard sell. Fury was a comfortable winner when they met in 2011 and even more so in their 2014 rematch. Since that return – the fight that made us many of us realise how truly special Tyson is – Chisora has lost seven of 17 bouts. Fury, meanwhile, has won 10 and drawn one. Chisora, a 9/1 underdog, is nearly 39 years old and has endured some hellacious slugfests in recent years. It is frankly impossible to picture a scenario where he wins.
But we’re going to be fed that possibility. This is heavyweight boxing where anything can happen, after all. At an outdoor stadium in December no less.
Fury fans claim that he’s simply giving his old pal an opportunity at a world belt and the kind of payday that goes with it. That could be admired to a degree if this was not heavyweight boxing where anything can happen. Chisora probably doesn’t need the kind of testimonial where he gets his head pounded in yet again. So you can stick your ‘cruel to be kind’ nonsense.
Perhaps the plan is that Tyson will take it easy on Chisora. Does that make it okay? No, of course not. It makes it worse. Not that he will, or at least one presumes not when there’s a BT Sport Box Office price tag attached to it.
It’s difficult to blame Frank Warren for this if you can put yourself in his position. Fury wanted a fight before the end of the year after spending five months of it in retirement. Fury is Warren’s most prized possession. Warren isn’t going to blow his chances of being involved in a lucrative Fury-Usyk or Fury-Joshua contest in 2023 by putting his foot down now. So he’ll dutifully do the promotional schtick with one eye on the future. However, you can be sure that Frank wouldn’t be shy in divulging his real thoughts on the matchup if it was being staged by a rival promoter.
For the sake of balance it’s worth remembering that Chisora is far from the worst title challenger the heavyweight division has seen. Though he’s been on the wrong (and occasionally right) end of some hidings he remains marketable and, as highlighted against Kubrat Pulev, just about capable. He is very rarely in a dull fight. He’s something of a cult favourite among boxing fans. He’s endearing in a barking mad kind of way.
We’ve had worse.
This is better than Riddick Bowe versus Michael Dokes. Better than numerous challengers thrashed by Joe Louis. Some defences from Muhammad Ali’s second reign left a lot to be desired, too. Joe Frazier feasted on opponents like Dave Zyglewicz and Terry Daniels. George Foreman mowed through Jose Roman. And if you’re in the club who believes that Fury has been world heavyweight champion since he outpointed Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, Chisora is a marked improvement on both Sefer Seferi and Tom Schwarz.
So, yes, we’ve had worse. Not sure we’ve had one who’s been so comprehensively outclassed twice being granted a third fight, though.
It can also be argued that Fury, after taking on Deontay Wilder twice and leading contender Dillian Whyte, is due what they used to call a ‘gimme’. But gimmes are from an era when champions were far more active than they are today. Gimmes are from eras when the best always fought their closest rivals. Gimmes used to be stopgaps, not pay-per-view events.
Fury and his promoters won’t take kindly to the criticism. Already any criticism has been met with scowls and offence and dubious rationale. But that criticism is based largely on how highly we regard them. They know they can do better. Without doubt, Fury has proved himself to be the leading heavyweight of the post-Klitschko era. But we don’t know for sure that he’s the best. It’s a heavyweight era still waiting for that defining moment. Anything less than that, after all these years, is bound to frustrate irrespective of the reasons for those defining contests not being made.
Or maybe this era will be defined on December 3. The night where we again champion the lack of one champion. When we’re told there are not one but two ‘world heavyweight championship’ fights on the same bill because Daniel Dubois defends his bogus WBA strap against South Africa’s Kevin Lerena. It’s another example of promoters and broadcasters breathing life into titles that make boxing appear so ridiculous to so many. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Joe Joyce bring his WBO interim bauble to the party to bolster the appeal. Then we can have a triple-header of ‘world heavyweight championship’ fights.
The insanity of that is seemingly forever lost on those in positions of power.