Tyson Fury regularly takes aim at rival heavyweights and promoters he doesn’t work with, but no amount of talking is likely to silence the criticism of his decision to face Derek Chisora for a third time on Dec. 3 to defend his WBC world heavyweight title.
The announcement from Fury’s promoters Top Rank and Queensberry has been met by a lot disapproval on social media and elsewhere.
Chisora has fought at the top level for over a decade and pushed Fury’s rival world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk close only two years ago, but there were harder tests and more appealing opponents to choose from.
Few have secured a world title shot at the age of 38 with 12 defeats on their record, including three losses in their last four fights, with a ranking outside the top ten in all four major governing bodies like Chisora has.
Two soporific fights years ago between the two English heavyweights is hardly a convincing reason why Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs), 34, and Chisora (33-12, 23 KOs) should meet again, or why audiences should be interested.
But there are reasons why the Dec. 3 bout could be a pivotal moment in heavyweight boxing history, and why fans still need to tune in.
Fury hopes to meet WBA, IBF and WBO champion Usyk in spring next year, so a keep-busy and ‘safe’ fight in the interim is understandable. Promoter Frank Warren said in a news conference on Thursday Fury would stay fit to prepare for Usyk, however Fury later told ESPN he is not thinking about a fight with Usyk and will only plan to fight Chisora.
What has upset some is the theory that Fury planned on facing Chisora all along, while publicly demanding former champion Anthony Joshua meet deadlines to agree to face him on Dec. 3.
A lot of fans are disappointed to lose out on seeing Fury vs. former WBA, IBF and WBO champion Joshua after the pair failed to agree terms a few weeks ago and now feel underwhelmed at the prospect of sitting through a third helping of Fury-Chisora.
It’s a bit like being promised an expensive meal out at a high-end restaurant, only to then be told you’re having dinner at the local fast-food joint.
The first two Fury-Chisora fights were hardly barnstormers to whet our appetite for a trilogy fight.
When they first met in July 2011, Chisora weighed in at a then career heaviest (261 pounds) and he his lack of conditioning resulted in a one-side fight, with Fury winning by a wide, unanimous points decision at Wembley Arena.
When they met again at the ExCel Arena in east London in November 2014, it was also relatively easy for Fury who secured a world heavyweight title shot when Chisora was retired by his corner at the end of the tenth round.
It was a sensible rather than spectacular display from Fury as he boxed neatly behind his jab and switched stances, from orthodox to southpaw. The Gypsy King, who was asked to shave his beard by officials before the fight, even began singing in between swinging in the seventh round.
Chisora’s right eye was almost swollen shut by the eighth round but the action was one-paced and the crowd booed as Fury was content to win the fight behind his jab.
Since then, Fury, has had two reigns as world champion, beaten the likes of Deontay Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko. Chisora, however, has suffered 12 defeats and only once fought (and lost) for a world title ten years ago.
Chisora’s record might not be formidable, but he has entertained in recent fights and you certainly could not accuse him of being dull, or lacking appetite.
Chisora showed plenty of heart in points losses to Usyk and Joseph Parker in the last two years and was full of aggression when he won a split decision over Kubrat Pulev earlier this year.
But concerns have been raised by the amount of punishment Chisora has recently absorbed. If Pulev and Parker can catch Chisora, Fury certainly will as he looks to set up one of the biggest fights for boxing in 2023.
Usyk, who outpointed Joshua for a second time in August, is not returning to the ring until next year due to injury and a showdown with Fury for all four belts will be his No. 1 priority. That puts the emphasis on Fury to produce a clean performance, emerging without any injuries, on Dec. 3 which makes it a fight worth watching.
How will Fury perform with so much on the line, and can he produce a more dominant performance against Chisora than Usyk managed? Or will Chisora pull off an unlikely, seismic shock, to become boxing’s latest Cinderella Man or Rocky story?
Those questions are what promoters hope tempt people to buy the fight on pay-per-view at a time when they might be saving for Christmas, or even attend an outdoor stadium — capable of filling over 60,000 fans — on a chilly December evening.
There have been easier fights to sell, but it helps that Fury and Chisora are prodigious talkers.