Thugs, pretenders, and why boxing needs more challengers like Dereck Chisora

By Dave Cacciatore - Sometimes you can learn a lot from a common thug; at least David Haye should have. Dereck Chisora was a trash talking, face slapping, water spitting fiend all the way up until the moments that the first bell sounded in his fight with Vitali Klitschko. He made no apologies but unlike his cornrowed compatriot from London he fought with no apologies either. And for that Chisora earned a certain level of respect that Haye lost when he stepped into the ring with Waldimir Klitschko.

Dereck Chisora did his best to back up his talk in the ring. He lost the vast majority of rounds but he made the fight. He applied constant pressure and was willing to wade into the deep waters with Vitali eating a lot of punches for the real estate needed to have a chance. He showed that he had a chin to take the shots, the heart to survive, and the balls to employ a dangerous strategy to win. This last commodity, balls, is the most precious attribute that a fighter can possess. It is the one that makes people fill up arenas and buy pay-per-views. It is one that the great heavyweights like Holyfield, Frazier, Ali, and Marciano had in great supply. It is the one that is in short supply today.

David Haye needs a large dose of this last quantity because his presence at the post-fight press conference provided the contrast of what a challenger should and should not do. Both Haye and Chisora did their best to disrespect the Klitschkos going into their fights. But only one of them had the balls to show the same disrespect when the fight started. Chisora did not put on his track shoes and run for 12 rounds, he did not only occasionally take swings at glory, and he did not then cry about a bruised toe after the fact.

Chisora did what tough guys do when you challenge them to their face, they come after you. Unlike the refined and gentlemanly nature of the brothers Klitschko, Chisora was ready to physically assault Haye at a public press conference. Not behavior to teach children and young fighters to emulate but the actions of a true thug.

That is the real source of Haye's anger towards Chisora, he is jealous. Not of Chisora's victories in the ring but of who he is outside of it. Chisora was not putting on an act in his behavior toward the Klitschkos; that is the kind of guy he really is. The facade of Haye's thuggery is obvious in how quickly his demeanor changed when the bell sounded and the real fight began.

To be certain Haye has had more victories, more championships, and more success in boxing than Chisora. If they were to meet in the ring not only would Haye be a betting favorite he would probably be the safe pick to win. But outside the ring is a different story and in terms of who fans would want to watch there is no question that people would rather watch a replay of the Chisora's fight with Vitali than a rematch between Haye and Wladimir.

All because only a select few men in the heavyweight division have that most rare and precious commodity today. The Klitschkos have it, so does Arreola, so does Chisora but there are scarcely other examples. And this is the fodder for the critics to endlessly chirp about the poor state of the heavyweights.

There were cracks evident in Vitali's game. Even three years ago could a fighter of Chisora's level pushed him to the distance? And not only to the distance but still throwing hard shots going into the last round? The answer is clearly no. Chisora was a little too slow, a little too short, and was not quite powerful enough to do the job. However, an opportunity is growing for someone with a large enough set of balls.

That commodity that made fans fall in love with Vitali during the Lennox Lewis fight is also the one that is going to get him beat. He would be wise to reassess what else he wants to achieve in the fight game. And he should learn from his old nemesis Lewis of when is the right time to get out. As Vitali knows, Lewis took one fight too many and he came within three minutes of going out on his back but he was smart enough not to step back in the ring not for all the money that the Ukrainian could throw at him. Other fighters have not been so wise, just ask Roy Jones Jr after he won a heavyweight title and beat Antonio Tarver in their first fight.

Balls can lead to greatness or destruction. Old champions need a lot less of it and young challengers need a lot more of it.

Article posted on 20.02.2012

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