I imagine some years ago when the record of Derek Chisora stood at 14-0, he saw his career going in a much different direction than it has. Strong and powerful, Chisora has always been a challenging opponent. The sad fact for Chisora is that on the road from prospect to champion, Chisora was at best a fringe contender, and now, he is nothing more than a gatekeeper.
Chisora is not the easiest guy to warm up to or feel sorry for. He was found guilty of assaulting his then girlfriend in 2010, he briefly lost his boxing license after threatening to shoot David Haye back in 2012, and if you are the least bit liberally inclined (as I am), it’s likely the burly Brit’s support of Brexit doesn’t sit well either.
I don’t want to excuse any of the above (especially the domestic violence), but I have to admit, the athletic courage Derek Chisora showed Saturday night, at the long-in-the-tooth age of 37, was something I found genuinely moving.
Chisora is past his prime. Hell, it’s hard to say that Derek Chisora ever even had a real “prime.” Once you get past his fast 14-0 start, Chisora has been only a bit better than a 50/50 fighter since – losing 12 of his last 30 fights.
When Chisora has faced up against the A-list (Vitaly Klitschko, Haye, Tyson Fury x2), he has lost decisively.
Even at the next level (let’s call it the B+ group), Chisora has typically fallen short as well. When given the opportunity to fight an opponent who, if he defeated, would lead to a title fight (only once, 2, did he fight for a world title), Chisora never came through.
He had two shots against Dillian Whyte and came up wanting. Saturday, he got a second shot against Joseph Parker, and again, found himself on the wrong side of the ledger.
As I mentioned before, Chisora has often behaved shamefully inside and outside of boxing, but Saturday night, as he took a three-knockdown pounding from Parker before losing the bout in unanimous decision fashion, I felt my heart go out to him.
All three times when sent to the canvas, Chisora was not only hurt, but exhausted. At least one other time, when being pounded on the ropes, the referee nearly stepped in to call a halt to the proceedings.
Yet somehow, in a fight that Chisora had to know he was losing badly, he got up, he answered. Chisora would rise, wander to the corner, take more punishment, and then, somehow, find a reserve that would allow him to keep both Parker and the referee at bay just enough to finish the fight. Click here to read Gayle Falkenthal’s write up of Chisora-Parker 2.
It was hard to watch at times, but it was also extraordinary human drama – especially for such a one-sided fight. Chisora, lumbering around the ring, mouth open and gasping for air, would simply not quit. He was bound and determined to end the fight on his feet. And so, remarkably, he did.
At his advanced age, Chisora is well aware that Saturday night’s defeat ends his career as a meaningful fighter in the heavyweight class – he said as much prior to the contest. Considering all the miles on his body, and how easy he is to hit (as evidenced by Saturday night’s fight), I would hope that Chisora would step away and just maybe find the peace that has thus far eluded him.
Taking more beatings while serving as someone else’s stepping stone certainly won’t accomplish that. I am hesitant to speak on what Chisora will do next – we all have seen too many fighters carry on for far too long, and end up broke, slurring their words, and dying before their time.
Perhaps that will be Chisora’s story as well. Or, maybe, if he can summon the type of bravery he showed Saturday night in the ring and apply it to the rest of his life, his next chapter will be less fraught than that of his fighting career.
To my own surprise, I find myself rooting for him.