This is a guest article from Andy Ryan.
You can decide that Chisora versus Fury is proof of the decline of boxing. You can complain that seeing these two fight for the right to face Klitschko shows what a talentless wasteland the heavyweight division has become. You can lament about how they wouldn't have been fit to lace up the gloves of the champions of the past. You can worry about whether the golden days are gone for good.
The four month wait since the postponement has built apathy rather than anticipation. Many fans and journalists seem far less enthused this time around because they sense the story has moved on. They've decided that Anthony Joshua is the saviour of British heavyweight boxing. Fury and Chisora suddenly find themselves the unloved support act for the true rockstar. When Fury called out Joshua, we had the curious sight of a fighter on the verge of facing Wladmir Klitschko having to drop a relative novice's name to remain relevant.
Winning the gold medal at the London Olympics made Joshua a nationally recognised sporting figure, something that neither Fury, Chisora or many other UK boxers are. His physique is staggering and his power in his early fights has been impressive. Yet his time is still to come. Let's enjoy what we have. There may be no greatness but we have everything else needed for a classic. These are two well-matched fighters facing a night likely to define their careers. They are as game as they come; neither will die wondering. They are capable of brilliance but flawed enough to be vulnerable. It might just be thrilling.
They are not ambassadors for boxing as the gentleman's sport. Fury has used Twitter for homophobic and expletive-laden rants. Chisora has brawled, bit, slapped, spit and even forcibly kissed his opponents. Yet their careers prove that boxing is still a sport in which outsiders can thrive. Chisora emigrated from Zimbabwe as a sixteen-year-old and was introduced to the sport by his probabation officer when he got into trouble soon after arriving in London. To see Chisora in Union Jack shorts and being roared into the ring by British fight fans is a powerful image in a country that's increasingly neurotic about those who come here in search of a better life. Fury is from an Irish Traveller family, a group that has traditionally faced heavy prejudice. For his community, he is a very rare public success story.
While it's been fairly quiet this time, the build-up to the first fight did have the predictable silliness. Fury spoke of "smashing" Chisora's "face right in", Chisora insulted one of Fury's brothers and the pair had to be separated by security at a face-off. Yet when they appeared on BoxNation's "Head to Head" show, the mutual respect was striking. Both talked of each other's achievements and the interview was concluded with a polite handshake. Away from their public caricatures, these two are sensible enough to know a serious challenger when they see one.
And so to the fight itself. Del Boy always brings action but rarely surprises. We know exactly what we are going to get. He will keep up his Joe Frasier tribute act, rumbling forward relentlessly and firing that booming overhand right. It's a style that has proved too much for some good fighters but not enough to trouble very good ones such as Haye and Vitali Klitschko. If we're lucky, we might see a little more head movement. It's a difference in mindset rather than fighting style that might prove significant. He has turned up to recent fights focused and in shape; we are not going to see the flabby and seemingly disinterested fighter who lost to Fury back in 2011. Watching the pair fight on the same card at the Copper Box earlier in the year, Chisora came across as the more professional. He got on with his job with none of the showboating or taunting that tainted Fury's performance that night.
All the uncertainty in this fight lies with Fury. This version of Chisora is far ahead of anyone else on Fury's record. The fight is either the moment when the Hennessy hype train derails or Fury starts to show he is the elite fighter that he keeps telling us he is. Fury certainly has more craft than his opponent. He has promised that he will be "wheeling and dealing, ducking and diving", picking Chisora off with counter-attacks. He will get opportunities but his chin is the almighty question mark. Pakjic and Cunningham have both put Fury down; a clean punch from Chisora should be enough.
If Fury needs reminding about what a dubious chin can do to a career he need only look at the man who was supposed to be nemesis. Only two years ago, Fury chose to give up his British title rather than face David Price, a fighter who beat him as an amateur. Yet a couple of defeats to Tony Thompson later and Price is fighting journeymen and out of the picture. Boxing can show very little respect for "the next big thing."
Fury's competitive action over the last 18 months amounts to fewer than twelve minutes against a journeymen boxer. He says he's alert to the danger of ring rust but there is also a serious possibility that the the last twelve months have stunted his development as a fighter. Prior to the two "fights that never were" against David Haye, Fury always kept busy. For him to develop as he should have done, he needed to keep that rate up.
It will hurt David Haye to see Fury and Chisora enjoying what used to be his limelight. He is desperately reminding everyone that he is active again and looking to a return to the ring. His talent and charisma means he'll always enjoy a good following. For the moment though, he and those criticizing this fight would do well to listen to the advice of a former British Prime Minister: "history is made by those who show up."