On July 28 this summer, Dereck Chisora (29-8) walked to the ring at London’s O2 Arena looking to prove a point. It was felt, by many, that his fight against Carlos Takam would perhaps be the last chance Del Boy got at marking a mark on the world heavyweight scene.
With losses to the unfancied Agit Kabayel, the unbeloved Dillian Whyte and the underrated Kubrat Pulev sandwiched in between underwhelming wins against Andras Csomor, Drazan Janjanin, Robert Filipovic and Zakaria Azzouzi, Chisora’s flip-flopping between levels had seen his stock lowered, and restricted to domestic level.
Calls for the Dillian Whyte rematch - which many thought the 34-year-old had won the original - were put on hold as Matchroom saw a chance to build the secondary instalment. By adding Dereck as chief support to the Whyte-Parker card the narrative was present even if both guys lost on the night.
Fast-forward to the eighth round. The previous seven saw Chisora retreating to the ropes constantly under the gut-busting pressure that Carlos Takam was throwing his way. Occasionally bursting into life, Del Boy gave the referee reason to continue the fight, when many other officials would have begun asking questions of the Finchley fighter. He wasn’t hurt, however, the Cameroonian-Frenchman was tearing into the head and body of the Brit like a beat-up heavy bag; left alone to dissect a seemingly immovable object.
Then, out of nowhere, two thundering rights saw the contest change path completely: much like what remains of Dereck Chisora’s career. One to the temple floored Takam; one to the chin finished the contest as a sold-out Arena sung Chisora’s name in unison. Once the “bad guy” of British boxing, Chisora had turned defeat into victory and haters into lovers.
Now, on October 18, he has turned a foe into a friend, or more pertinently, a manager. From being separated by a metal fence in the buildup to their 2012 grudge match to verbal sparring ringside just last year just before Haye’s first loss to Tony Bellew, the Chisora-Haye relationship has forever been strained.
Now, working alongside Hayemaker Ringstar, Chisora is looking to put the final touches on a career that a rollercoaster would be envious of.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Haye was under no illusions of the task ahead in his attempt to re-build Chisora’s career: “This is a project. A tough project, and one that I had to think long and hard about. I had to think: ‘do I want this task?’ No disrespect but Dereck is not the easiest to work with!”
”I am positive he can get results. He hasn’t fulfilled his potential yet. Imagine if he goes into a fight in prime condition. Imagine if he stands on the scales and you see someone that you’ve never seen before. He needs his food cooked, to rest during the day, to be in a real camp. Give it nine or 10 weeks and you will see something special.”
Chisora went on to explain the relationship from his side, with the heavyweight still looking to keep a strong relationship with Matchroom: “We had lunch. We spoke. He played hard to get! He said: ‘let me think about it’ but he was already hooked. Every time I have lost, I have rebuilt myself. I saw how David did it for himself and I want to do it myself.”
What has become apparent is that Chisora’s shock-victory over Haye’s former sparring partner - Carlos Takam - was the moment that sealed the deal in the Hayemaker’s head. Haye continued by adding: “I was more than surprised. I was shocked at the heart, aggression and will to win that Dereck showed. After he pulled off a spectacular victory that I didn’t think he had a chance in, I had a newfound respect.”
So, what can we expect from Dereck Chisora next as he goes searching for a career Indian summer, under the tutelage of Haye?
Ranked in the top ten of all of the world governing bodies - barring the WBO - Chisora’s quest for a shot at a world title is unlikely, but more importantly, not unfeasible. The key to this is currently held by his London-rival Dillian Whyte. Rumours of a December 22 date for Dillian Whyte to fight at the O2 are gathering pace; who he fights is the biggest question.
Luis Ortiz and Dereck Chisora are the two frontrunners, however, now under the management of Hayemaker Ringstar, can we expect Dereck to bide his time, refraining from jumping back into dangerous waters?
A loss to Dillian in the rematch could prove another huge step back for Chisora, opening the door for Whyte to take the April 13 slot at Wembley Stadium against Anthony Joshua; a win would be life-changing, but a risk none the less.
Chasing the WBA (Regular) belt could prove to be Chisora’s best angle. With Jarrell Miller (also of Matchroom) and Fres Oquendo above him in the rankings, manoeuvring a shot at the strap is well within Eddie Hearn’s reach. Matchroom prioritising ‘Big Baby’ Miller Stateside could, however, quash this dream.
I’m uncomfortable with the notion that certain fighters have to be ‘up’ for a fight to perform to the peak of their powers. Often masked as an excuse for defeats against guys well below them in the rankings, it serves as a distraction to the whole package of a fighters ability. Chisora has been touted as this style of fighter, with only the big names worth his attention.
This new relationship with Haye will be a fascinating insight into where both former enemies see Chisora on the heavyweight spectrum. There are paydays out there for him now, but if they firmly believe he can become world champion, patience and shrewdness will be key