Vitali Klitschko returns to the ring tomorrow night when he prepares to spank the latest l’enfant terrible—or is just “terrible” enough?—of British heavyweights, Dereck Chisora, over a scheduled 12 at the Olympiahalle in Munich, Germany.
There must be something in the water in the United Kingdom that makes fighters so obnoxious. Certainly Chisora, only 17 fights into his career, has given more than enough evidence of being the only passenger on his own personal Crazy Train. Over the last couple of years, he has bitten a fighter in the ring, kissed one at a weigh-in, and has been found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. It is hard to believe that someone as modest and amiable as Frank Bruno was once the biggest star in U.K. boxing. Today, instead of the stigma of “horizontal heavyweights,” Britain can boast of a new generation of vulgar non-sportsmen with little talent and lots of mouthiness to go along with all that nothing.
This afternoon, with his Union Jack bandana wrapped around his face—most likely in homage to the highwaymen of Finchley Common of a bygone era—Chisora, 15-2 (9), decided to add a smack to the usual weigh-in shenanigans. It was a disgraceful act, albeit one that is now an accepted, indeed, desired, part of modern prizefighting, which more and more emulates the tomfoolery of professional wrestling. For stuttering vloggers, forum trolls, and third-rate bloggers, this kind of thing is a call for celebration, or, at the very least, some emoticons.
Whatever one thinks of Klitschko, 43-2 (40), as a fighter—dull and mechanical, perhaps-he has been a credit to the sport for years. It is not his fault—nor that of his brother and co-champion, Wladimir—that this is the worst heavyweight crop since Mike Tyson came around in 1986 with a giant pooper scooper tucked into each glove. The truth, however, is even more frightening. Current heavyweights are actually worse than that “Lost Generation” of the “Me, Me, Me” 80s. O, for the days of Michael Dokes, Pinklon Thomas, John Tate, and Mike Weaver! Hell, even Gerrie Coetzee, with his “Bionic Hand,” would have left most of these pretenders counting atoms under the lights. This fight, like the forthcoming Wladimir Klitschko-Jean Marc Mormeck travesty, ought to be a 50-1 prop. Actually, it should be off the boards altogether, but, of course, times do change. Think about it: Trevor Berbick answered the bell against Larry Holmes in 1981 as a 50-1 underdog, and Berbick would go on to earn a title and beat Pinklon Thomas, Greg Page, and Mitch Green along the way.
Chisora, who will be more than fortunate to accomplish half of what Tony Tubbs achieved, has done less than zero since turning pro in 2007. Nor does working over Robert Helenius in his last fight—a disgraceful hometown decision loss—mean much since Helenius is as mobile as a UNESCO site and has just enough speed and coordination to rise from his stool before his cornerman pulls it out from under him. Before his victimization at the hands of clueless judges in Finland, Chisora, 28, entered the ring grotesquely out of shape to do a Benny Hill re-enactment against Tyson Fury. This dynamic duo wound up swinging rubber chickens at each other for 12 farcical rounds, with Chisora dropping a unanimous decision. Now, less than a year later, Chisora, whose last win was against a fighter with a 19-43-3 record, is set to duck through the ropes against a man who has lost nary a round in nearly a decade.
“Rudimentary” is probably the best word to describe Chisora, who has no real attributes visible to the naked eye. He is big and strong and works hard on the inside. Chisora, London, England, will look to crowd Klitschko, work the body, maul a bit in close, and look to throw the occasional overhand shot from wherever he sees fit to do so at any given moment.
For his part, Klitschko, Kiev, Ukraine, will try to spear Chisora with his jab from the outside and drop straight rights over the top. Although Klitschko is 40 years old, he has taken almost no punishment whatsoever since losing via cuts to Lennox Lewis in 2003. In addition, his victims are usually left in extremis. Shannon Briggs was hospitalized; Kevin Johnson put on one of the most disgusting displays in years; pathetic Odlanier Solis toppled in one round; and Tomasz Adamek, Cris Arreola, and Sam Peter turned into heavy bags before the eyes of millions, like something out of magic realism. It will take a sudden mid-life crisis for Klitschko to lose to Chisora, whose only accomplishments thus far are wins over Sam Sexton and a shot Danny Williams.
“Anything can happen” is the old heavyweight axiom—because of the power these bulky men can theoretically generate with their punches—but Chisora will need more than “anything” to happen—he will need everything possible, including supernatural forces, under the sun to work in his favor. But who has failed to notice the railbirds consistently picking shambolic short-enders to win recently? This is done, invariably, with the hopes that the law of averages finally kicks in. When the shocking upset actually occurs, they can assert their genius. But the fact is, barring a miracle, Chisora should have taken the money he was offered to have advertisements placed on the soles of his shoes, like his countryman Julius Francis did for his bout with Mike Tyson. After all, the geezers are going to need something to talk about once the notion of competition flies out of the ring and into the rafters.
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