It is rare boxers become famous without constantly winning, and it is even more rare to see them main event a card, yet Derek Chisora is not your average fighter.
A vulgar, British heavyweight who will give you as many cuss words as he does words for a kindergarten classroom, main events this Saturday, on DAZN against Kubrat Pulev. Pulev has gotten himself in hot water as he was accused of sexual assault by a female boxing reporter, fought Anthony Joshua, was let go by Top Rank Inc., and now recently defeated Jerry Forrest on a strange Triller card.
Chisora is less so about the in-ring action than the antics. Chisora functions more as a sports icon as opposed to a traditional boxer; let me explain.
Often times we invest a lot of our time into these sports franchises based near where we live or major sports figures based on our age and watching them age side-by-side with us. Chisora is more so a figure in the nexus of a Lebron James, Colby Covington, or many others, as a sports figure who merges entertainment, politics, and much more, well, either becoming highly likable or hated. Over time, unlike sports washing, we learn to accept the unapologetic nature of Chisora. This weekend, Chisora has seemingly carried the promotion yet again for a fight with not a ton of meaning for the top of the division, based on being himself. Chisora comes to fight, says funny, sometimes offensive stuff, and then gives it his all. In an era full of boxers who also are thinking about their best financial investments, Roth IRAs, 401Ks, and shaming fans for not seeing the brilliance in accumulating wealth without the sexy match-ups, it is hard not to be drawn to Chisora.
Chisora hit all the beats like a great modern film this fight week as he wore a Boris Johnson mask to the weigh-in. That wasn't enough, as each interview was done with the mask on. In the press conference prior, Chisora explained his love of Brexit, a view that spawned worries of immigration hurting the British and their lifestyle, as well career paths. Chisora molded himself after Marvin Hagler, and despite not having the results in the ring, he resonates with a core fanbase in Britain similarly. His monologues to fighters are awkward and often go viral.
When he told Dillian Whyte he'd go through him like a laxative or telling Pulev fighting gives him a boner. These are things that Chisora does as he has a massive man, who most would be intimidated by with the retorts of a high schooler. His greatest hits feature him going rogue against Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor demanding to be a main eventer at a press conference on fight week. Seemingly his feud with Dillian Whyte crafted the Whyte, who became a fringe contender largely based on his humorous rivalry with Chisora, the famous “bottle incident” with David Haye, and slapping Vitali Klitschko.
Chisora has simply made a career out of being in our lives for nearly 13 years at essentially the highest level and got better with age. When the youth wore away, the vignettes and fight segments got better. Chisora even arguably gave Joseph Parker all he could handle in their first fight, as Dillian Whyte's career was built on beating Chisora and Parker, as seemingly most of the other top fighters troubled him or beat him; this marquee win was taken from Chisora but gave him a new life. The fighting brute, Chisora, who has one course of action, recklessly brawl, has a legion of fans who just want to see him. Chisora is genuine in trying to entertain fight week and in the ring, and in an era where it feels like half of the top-level fighters are trying their best to get fights that benefit them and less so the paying public.
Network executives and promoters have fooled the fans into working against their best interest, as it is now a celebration of the brilliance of a rich fighter's ability to accumulate wealth rather than accolades, and often when accolades are achieved, it is of the smoke and mirrors-type rather than against a true equal. One can say this is something politics did prior and now has trickled into boxing. The sport has few fans, but instead, now consumers of certain promotions. Not unlike the world, boxing is more divided. Fans of this promotion refuse to support another promotion, and vice versa, out of spite.
So, where does Chisora fit in all of this? Simple, Chisora is very transparent and honest in who he is. In a world with not a lot of fighters like that, in an exciting weight class, heavyweight, and with an exciting style, his marquee win over David Price a few years back vaulted him back to the top of U.K. boxing. Chisora is a prime example of how sometimes the fans just want excitement. The path, trajectory, or even world title accomplishments are secondary to knowing they will see a brutal, violent fight.
“Let's all be honest. I don't know how many press conferences I've done in the past. It's all the same talk, to be honest with you. ‘Yes, I have trained hard, I've hit the bag harder, I've sparred harder, and I've done everything harder.' How many fights have I had? 45 fights. It's the same chat. I just want to fight. We can all sit here and say, ‘I've trained hard, and I've done this and done that; it doesn't really matter for me. All I want to do is just put my gumshield on, put my gloves on, walk out to the ring, and fight. That's all I want to do. I'm just excited for Saturday. My whole point right now is just bringing big fights, entertaining the fans, and just doing what I like to do,” said Chisora at Thursday's press conference as though speaking to every working-class British boxing lover.
In an era in which fighters fight so little, because they simply aren't good enough to fight that often, or they're so good, they run out of opponents to fight that often, Chisora is becoming a folk hero for those wanting to see fights and an exciting one at that. As fight fans, we give a lot of ourselves to boxing, yet we get very little in return most times.
Guys like Chisora try to give the fans great fights, and it is simple how Chisora and Gabriel Rosado have risen to the top of the sport in untraditional means by simply embracing the sport, not manipulating it. Chisora is a complicated character, but I like some aspects of him and have reservations about other aspects, but that being said, he is a big part of the U.K. boxing scene. His fight this weekend is highly winnable for him – as he looks to have a strong last stand in the sport.