Derek Chisora was the underdog, was counted out, and some felt he should have retired before today’s rematch with Kubrat Pulev. But Chisora pulled off the surprise in London, scoring arguably the best win of his career at age 38
Chisora (33-12, 23 KO) won a split decision over Pulev (29-3, 14 KO) on scores of 116-112 and 116-114 his way, and one card of 116-112 for the Bulgarian. Bad Left Hook unofficially scored it 115-113 for Chisora.
Pulev beat Chisora by split decision in Hamburg, Germany, in 2016, a fight that — in my opinion, anyway — was a pretty clear Pulev win. But this version of Chisora may have surprised Pulev by just how active he was, how much pressure he was putting on, and how relentless he was.
Now, to be fair here, a lot of what Chisora did was technically not legal, but referee Marcus McDonnell was pretty lenient from the get-go, dishing out more warnings than you’ll see over a full eight-fight card most nights.
In short, it was not pretty, but it was a rugged, physical fight, the kind Chisora needed to beat the 41-year-old Pulev, who remained calm throughout but never quite got into the sort of rhythm he needed on offense.
“I think I last won a fight three years ago. It’s been a while. It was hard,” Chisora said. “Pulev’s a great fighter, very difficult. I trained hard. I’m happy today, and at the same time I’m sad. I don’t have many left in me, but what I have, I’m going to give it all to you guys.
“My next couple fights, I’m on my way out. I don’t want no easy fights, I want hard fights. I told Eddie (Hearn) the other day, if he can get me (Deontay Wilder), I’d be happy. I want to fight everybody in my era — win or lose, I just want to fight.”
Chisora talked about having “lost so many fights on the road” in his career and needing this win, and added that if Pulev had gotten his hand raised in the end, he’d have just about the same attitude he does in victory.
“Mate, I’m used to it, bro. If they’d gave it to him, I just would have jumped on the train again and carried on,” he stated. “I’m used to getting robbed. It wouldn’t be new to me. I wouldn’t be upset, I’d just move on. God has got a plan for me. I don’t know what it is, but we’ll find out soon.”
“Chisora deserved one tonight,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “It was a close fight, and when they read out the split, ‘I thought, please, please’ — I was going to run from the ring! He’d come after me. But he’s had so many close decisions not go his way. He just beat a world top 15 fighter, probably top 10 heavyweight. We’ll see what the future holds. I was just desperate to see him win tonight. He’s got such a big heart, he never quits.”
Chisora then suggested, to Hearn’s face — in a joking manner, but also obviously serious — that he wants to be paid more now, or he’d “go to the other side,” suggesting fighting for other promoters. Truthfully, if the bigger money is there from Boxxer or Queensberry, Chisora at this stage of his career should do what’s best for him.
Chisora vs Pulev 2 highlights
Israil Madrimov TD-3 Michel Soro
This was a rematch and WBA eliminator again at 154, following a very controversial stoppage win for Madrimov last December in Uzbekistan. Madrimov (8-0-1, 6 KO) was dominant through two rounds here, just battering away on Soro (35-3-2, 24 KO), and then five seconds into the third round, the heads clashed, Soro had a huge, pouring cut on his forehead, and the fight was ruled a technical draw, basically a no-contest but will count as a draw on their records.
Personally, I don’t think the WBA should order a third eliminator here, but I also don’t think they should just order Madrimov as a mandatory, so, y’know — pick your poison, I guess. Tony Bellew and David Haye believed the fight should not have been stopped on the cut since it wasn’t bleeding into the eye, and getting a clearer look at location after all was said and done, I think I kind of agreed with them.
The little we got to see, the 27-year-old Madrimov was looking better than ever, sort of Golovkin-ish with his approach, while the 34-year-old Soro was looking flat and worse than ever by quite a lot. He’s a good fighter, Soro, but he was getting trucked for six minutes here.
Undercard highlights and results
- Ramla Ali PTS-8 Agustina Rojas: Ali is now 6-0 (1 KO), winning on a referee’s score of 80-72. Ali is 32, she’s got irons in a lot more fires than boxing — I’ve just never been sold on her boxing career, in all honesty. She sold some tickets here and had some fans in early, but I’m talking about the level her in-ring boxing career can reach, I just don’t see much potential for her to get any better than she is, and I don’t think she’s going to have the goods against serious fighters at 122. Someone like Mayerlin Rivas or Mary Romero could be a terrible night for her.
- Caoimhin Agyarko UD-10 Lukasz Maciec: This was Agyarko (12-0, 7 KO) moving down to 154, as at 25 he and his team are looking to start making a real move, and they wanted to at least test out how he’d do at 154 instead of 160. He reportedly made the weight easier than expected and is set to keep going here, and did pick up a minor WBA trinket. Scores were 99-93, 100-90, and 100-90. Maciec (28-5-1, 5 KO) did do just enough to show the continuing flaws in Agyarko’s game, I thought, but didn’t win more than a round or two, either. Agyarko can fight, but has some defensive issues — there’s still ground to be covered to become a serious world contender, but he’s working at it, and this was a solid test against a very solid fighter in Maciec, a test that Agyarko passed. They’re talking about possibly fighting Spike O’Sullivan next.
- Fabio Wardley TKO-2 Chris Healey: This was very short notice for Healey (9-10, 2 KO), and he probably wasn’t even in the normal shape he is in, which is “fat guy.” I’m not trying to be mean or anything, he is a fat guy. When you watch him, it’s clear he can box a bit, but this was a mismatch and not a fight he was meant to be in; Wardley was supposed to face Kingsley Ibeh. Wardley (14-0, 13 KO) put Healey down once in the first, Healey survived, and then he dropped him again early in the second and Healey’s corner made the right call to stop it.
- Solomon Dacres PTS-8 Kevin Nicolas Espindola (80-72)
- Yousuf Ibrahim PTS-4 Francisco Rodriguez (40-36)