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Today’s papers should be filled with praise for Dereck Chisora’s brave performance against a vastly more experienced fighter in the ring. He managed to survive 12 rounds against a champion such as Vitali Klitschko is no mean feat and despite the defeat, Chisora could take many positives from the fight. However, the boxing has paled into insignificance in light of the antics out of the ring in Munich this weekend. It’s been some weekend. Slapping, spitting and a brawl between David Haye and Chisora at the post fight press conference has left British boxing’s reputation at a new low.
The boxing world has watched in amazement the events of the past 48 hours unfold. It started on Friday at the weigh in ahead of Saturday’s clash. Looking like a bandit from a Wild West film, as the usual head to head photo was being staged for the members of the press, Del Boy unleashed what can only be described as a cheap shot and slapped a stunned Vitali Klitschko in the face. Moments before the opening bell of the contest, Del Boy appears to spit water towards Vitali’s younger brother Wladimir. But the most shocking moment of the entire weekend was still to come. In the post-fight press conference, former WBA Heavyweight champion David Haye who turned up in order to confront Vitali Klitschko was involved in a brawl with Chisora in front of an amazed press room.
Following an exchange of words between the two British fighters, Chisora went over to confront Haye and what followed was utter chaos. For anyone who hasn’t seen the events, the link to YouTube footage is here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWQs8nMsZNg . The pictures are shocking, I don’t even know where to begin explaining the whole farce. Adam Booth – Haye’s trainer was struck by Haye with a tripod, Chisora accused Haye of attacking him with a glass before being clearly heard to threaten to shoot and burn his fellow countryman at least four times during the confrontation.
This incident has plunged British Boxing’s reputation to a new low. This whole affair has been an embarrassment and is sure to dominate the headlines for weeks to come which is awful considering we’re a nation of such Boxing tradition. Would we have seen Sir Henry Cooper involved in a similar controversies? Johnny Owen using weapons to attack an opponent? Even boxers who have seen controversies in their post boxing life such as Ricky Hatton would never have sunk so low when they were in the public eye and quite frankly embarrassing all concerned.
The worrying thing is this is the latest in a series of controversies for British boxing. Who can forget David Haye’s T-shirt depicting the headless bodies of the Klitschko brothers or his infamous quote about the outcome of his fight with Audley Harrison being as “one sided as gang rape”. What’s happened to the sport? Arguably one of the greatest sportsmen to have ever lived Muhammed Ali was famed for his talking down of opponents and his word craft. Nothing of the sort is around in British heavy weight boxing. Chisora has a conviction for beating up his then girlfriend after finding texts on her phone from another man. He also has convictions for possessing an offensive weapon, assaulting a police officer and . These two heavyweight boxers are supposed to be role models for up and coming youngsters. What example are they setting? Boxing is not a sport for mindless thugs to go an smash each others skulls in. It takes discipline, flair and skill. But these two fighters are trying to prove otherwise to anyone that doesn’t understand the sport.
The biggest tragedy of the whole saga is that both lads are talented boxers. Had Haye stuck in the Cruiserweight division, he could have been one of the greatest to have ever fought in the division. Who can forget the sublime performance he put in against Nicolai Valuev to win the WBA Heavyweight championship? Chisora is no slouch either. He was fighting Vitali Klitshko with only 17 pro fights under his belt. His split decision defeat against Robert Helenius in Helsinki is one of the more controversial decisions of the past 12 months with many boxing pundits and writers including myself scoring the fight in Del Boy’s favour. Both are clearly talented but this whole saga threatens to be remember much longer than their exploits in the ring.
It’s important to understand that it’s not all doom and gloom for British boxing. Nathan Clevery defends his WBO light Heavyweight belt on Saturday in Cardiff and Amir Khan is looking to win back his light welterweight belts he lost when he was defeated by Lamont Peterson. There are some exciting fighters still in the British isles such as Kell Brook, George Groves, Kid Galahad and Gavin Rees to name but a few. Also the Amateur scene is flourishing with four medals coming back from last year’s amateur boxing world championships in Azerbaijan.
With boxing, the drama, the theatre, the pantomime is to be expected pre fight. Boxers are self promoting. They need to get the public and sponsors interested. But all animosity should be left behind following the final bell. The Hatton-Mayweather fight is a prime example of this. In this noble art that requires both skill and grace, both Haye and Chisora have shown a blatant disregard for all of the above and put their own personal gripes ahead of what is good for the sport. This incident will do nothing for those who believe boxing is barbaric and should be outlawed.
The world of boxing is bewildered by these events. Pundits, boxers and promoters have been quick to condemn the actions of both fighters. Frank Warren, Vitali Klitschko and Carl Froch have all stated their dismay and disgust about what’s happened. The Klitschko brothers must be applauded for the way they have conducted themselves, displaying nothing but grace and gentlemanly behaviour throughout their fights and circus surrounding their battles against British opposition. It’s a sad state of affairs that arguably, they are the last remaining great heavyweights. Vitali has called for the pair to be banned and there’s a chance that could happen. The British Board of Boxing control secretary hasn’t ruled out imposing life bans on the pair. He told BBC Radio Five Live: “The board have many powers. They can fine, they can suspend and they can withdraw a licence.” Haye is currently without a license and faces an uncertain future should the BBBC refuse to grant him a license following this. Likewise Chisora who’s reputation is now at an all-time low and he may come to regret the past weekend in the long run.
However, despite the hostility between both fighters, the public will want to see these two fighting each other in the ring should they be allowed to carry on fighting. Its sure to bring in millions of pounds of sponsorship, purse and hours of publicity for both fighters in the UK. Will the world have any interest? Probably not. Two non world champions . It’s up to Nathan Cleverly on Saturday to restore some sort of respectability to the British game. What a weekend eh.