Tag Archives: Dereck Chisora

Josh Taylor delivers in fight of the year contender

Josh Taylor became Britain’s newest boxing star with a sensational points win over unbeaten American Regis Prograis at the O2 Arena.

Taylor is not only the World Boxing Super Series winner, but now unified champion in the super-lightweight division, holding both the IBF and WBA world titles, as well as the Ring Magazine belt.

The pair could barely be split by pundits before the first bell and this was reflected in a fight which was decided by very fine margins.

One judge was unable to separate them, scoring the contest 114-114, with the other two giving the nod to the Scot, 117-112 and 115-113 respectively.

Ever since the tournament began back in October 2018, there had been much anticipation amongst boxing fans over a potential final involving the pair.

Both made it through the opening two stages with relative ease, each picking up their maiden world titles at the semi-final stage, setting up a mouth-watering clash for the Ali Trophy.

Not all fights of such magnitude live up to the hype they receive, but this London bill-topper undoubtedly did.

Headline worthy

The early build-up was in part overshadowed by comments from heavyweight Dereck Chisora, who claimed he should be headlining the show in his fight with Joseph Parker, who later pulled out due to a spider bite.

“I’m not going to sell out the O2 for them guys to be the main event,” the Londoner exclaimed at the announcement press conference. “I’m being serious, you want me to sell it out to the London crowd, my London fans, then put these little guys that no-one knows about on my show and mug me off.”

However, any suggestion that the wrong fight was heading the card was put to bed almost as soon as the first bell rung.

The atmosphere in the O2 was electric. There were many Scots in attendance, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at Hampden Park with “Flower of Scotland” being belted out around the arena.


Pure heart and desire from both men, a great example of why boxing needs the best to fight the best.

It was all action right from the off. You could tell straight away that it was going to be a tough one to score – the opening rounds could’ve gone either way.

Prograis impressed early on with his fast hands and slick head movement, showing off the skills which earned him a record of 24-0, with 20 of those coming by way of knockout.

However, it was the less experienced Taylor, boasting a record of 15-0 pre-fight including 12 KOs, who dominated the middle rounds. He appeared to be throwing considerably more punches than his opponent, and although Prograis was evading many, the ones that landed certainly did enough to win him rounds.


“In my 31 years as a ref that is the best fight I’ve ever been involved with.” – Referee Marcus McDonnell with high praise

The American finished strongly but it wasn’t enough to stop the 28-year-old from Edinburgh etching his name into the record books.

It was all action, pure heart and desire from both men, and a great example of why boxing needs the best to fight the best.

It was a fight so good, referee Marcus McDonnell said: “In my 31 years as a ref that is the best fight I’ve ever been involved with. It was an honour to share the ring with two great champions.”

There was no protesting from the New Orleans native following the announcement of the result, as he admitted: “He won, I can’t make no excuses. The best man won tonight. I’ll be back.”

It almost seems unfair that someone had to lose. Taylor walks away the victor, deservedly so, but Prograis gained far more than he lost. He won the respect of everyone watching and can certainly come again. Far too many boxers fear getting that first ‘L’ on their record, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when it comes against the best.

Respect between the two warriors following an epic battle

Road to undisputed?

For Taylor, his next goal will ultimately be becoming undisputed champion at super-lightweight. The man who stands in his way is Jose Ramirez, who became unified champion earlier this year, beating fellow American Maurice Hooker to retain his WBC title and win the WBO strap.

A fight between the pair certainly seems realistic and likely to happen sometime next year, once Ramirez has dealt with his next mandatory challenger.

Should the Scotsman win, he would become Britain’s first ever four-belt undisputed champion. Lennox Lewis was the last fighter from Britain to hold all the belts in a division, securing the three belts in existence back in 1999 to become undisputed champion at heavyweight.

Should Taylor manage this achievement, he would undoubtedly go down in boxing history as one of Britain’s greatest-ever fighters, and one of the greatest overall in his weight class.  

Chisora marches on

The highlight of a packed undercard was undoubtedly Chisora securing a third successive win over David Price, whose corner threw in the towel at the end of the fourth round.

It was an entertaining scrap while it lasted, with Chisora landing several nice shots before being buzzed by a lovely uppercut from Price right at the end of the third.

But it was a knockdown, delivered by the man from Finchley in the fourth which ended the night for Price. The brave Liverpudlian got up and wanted to carry on, but his corner took matters out of his hands.


‘Delboy’ will be hoping to secure one final shot at the heavyweight world title before he finally calls it quits, although that seems unlikely

For Chisora, a fight with Joseph Parker seems likely to finally happen next year. Having been talked about for months, it was finally set to happen on this bill, before the Kiwi was forced to pull out.

‘Delboy’ will be hoping to secure one final shot at the heavyweight world title before he finally calls it quits, although that seems unlikely unless he is able to work his way up to a mandatory position.

Amongst the other fights, Welshman Lee Selby got the better of the other Scotsman on the card, veteran Ricky Burns, in an entertaining lightweight clash which went the distance. The British derby was not short of controversy; it spilled over at the end of several rounds, with Selby accusing Burns of punching him after the bell. The man from Barry has now moved himself back into world title contention.

Laurence Okolie picked up the European title, knocking out previously unbeaten Belgian Yves Ngabu in the seventh round of their cruiserweight scrap. Okolie is now set for a world title challenge at some point next year and looks well placed to become the latest British world champion.

Nigel Benn might be set for a comeback, but it was his son Conor who shone in the first televised fight of the evening, moving to 16-0 with a fourth-round stoppage of tough Belgian Stephane Jamoye.

Overall it was a fantastic night of boxing, topped off by a sensational main event which delivered beyond expectations. Britain now has a new boxing superstar, and you can only see Taylor’s career going from strength to strength.

Photo by Harry Currall

Do we really need boxing’s bad blood and feuds?

How far do boxers need to go in order to grab our attention when it comes to hyping up a big fight? And how far is too far?

These are questions that came to mind when Dereck Chisora threw a table at Dillian Whyte during a news conference to promote their recent contest in Manchester.

Are the months of sweat, pain and dedication that goes into preparing for a bout not enough to attract viewers? Does there have to be bad blood – or at least what appears to be real animosity between boxers?

“There was mutual respect shown in the end, but then we all know that they didn’t really hate each other’s guts in the first place”

That certainly seemed to be the case in 2002, when Mike Tyson sank his teeth into Lennox Lewis’s leg during a press conference brawl in New York.

A few years down the line, it was David Haye gatecrashing the media event after Vitali Klitschko had beaten Chisora (that man again).

A heated exchange of insults quickly descended into chaotic scenes in which Chisora was hit with a bottle and threatened to ‘shoot’ and ‘physically burn’ his fellow British heavyweight.

Ahead of their fight at West Ham’s Upton Park stadium, the two Londoners were kept apart by a fence and a battalion of security staff.

Sworn enemies?

Back to Chisora v Whyte, and was that airborne item of furniture really necessary just to sell a few more satellite and cable TV pay-per-views?

It resulted in their bout being stripped of its British title status, and could have resulted in someone – a journalist, photographer or passing PR person – getting seriously injured. All in the name of selling a fight.

As it turned out, that fight was a bona fide thriller, with Whyte winning by a split decision and the general consensus being it was one of the year’s best contests.

There was mutual respect shown between the two fighters in the end, but then we all know that they didn’t really hate each other’s guts in the first place.

Isn’t it fascinating how we lap up the pre-fight narrative of boxers being sworn enemies, only to commend them for sharing a warm embrace at the end of the fight.

Trash talk

Boxing is particularly prone to opponents trash-talking each other, and has a long tradition of fighters ‘calling out’ rivals and threatening to do all sorts to them once they step into the ring.

“There is a serious side of ‘the noble art’ that is being completely being ignored in favour of the gimmicky, the soundbite and the video clip that goes viral”

Surely what makes a fight is the match-up, the clash of style and tactics, the test of character and one’s chin inside the ropes, not at a press conference or weigh-in.

True, nobody was better at winding up opponents that Muhammad Ali, but this was a form of verbal showmanship – you never saw ‘The Greatest’ throwing tables at George Foreman or Joe Frazier.

Their fight build-ups involved no flying furniture, or any need for an army of heavies to keep two adults apart in case they couldn’t possibly resist the temptation to knock each other’s blocks off there and then, with no cheque, title or win-loss record at stake.

Struggles

Perhaps ‘the show’ is losing its credibility as a result of too much window dressing. Instead of magnifying meaningless spats that happened years ago, why don’t promoters focus more on the human stories of these boxers and their backgrounds?

Okay, so when Whyte fought Anthony Joshua in yet another ‘grudge’ bout, they were indeed former amateur opponents, with Whyte the winner over three rounds.

But when it came to Whyte v Chisora, we were told their feud was all down to a few sparring sessions in the gym a while back.

What about the struggle that each boxer has had to face throughout their careers? Why do they fight? Why do choose to risk their health every time they enter the ring?

There is a serious side of ‘the noble art’ that is being completely being ignored in favour of the gimmicky, the soundbite and the video clip that goes viral.

Reckoning

Nick Blackwell had to be placed in a medically induced coma for a week after his fight with Chris Eubank Jr earlier this year.

Eduard Gutknecht underwent surgery after his fight with George Groves, and Mike Towell died after his fight with Dale Evans as a result of severe bleeding and swelling to the brain.

Whyte and Chisora are both family men. Is there not a better story to be told here in light of recent events?

Chisora’s £30,000 fine and his suspended two-year ban isn’t going to do much in the way of deterring this sort behaviour in the name of selling a fight.

The irony is, when the hour of reckoning came, their fight proved to be truly memorable one.

But while actual tickets to a fight night are limited by the size of the arena, there are always more PPVs to be sold, so the hype and the press conference antics will continue.

One day, someone is really going to get hurt…

Fox following in his father’s footsteps

When your dad is rated among the best trainers in the country and one of the most respected men in boxing, you almost have no choice but to be involved in the sport somehow.

Boxing is all George Fox has ever known, from pulling on infant-sized gloves as a young child to hit his father, Don Charles, to now launching a new boxing boot camp gym in his local area of north London, Mill Hill East.

Charles is known as an elite-level trainer whose fighters have included former British Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion Dereck Chisora.

Fox, who has 12 wins (four by knockout) from 16 bouts as an amateur, wants to follow his father’s footsteps and take the sport by storm. “Boxing is just in our blood,” he told me.

“My mission is to become heavyweight champion of the world. It’s always been a dream of mine, and I’m entering what I hope to be the last 12 months of being an amateur before I turn professional.”

Progression

But is there an alternative in terms of forging a career in boxing that doesn’t involve getting in the ring?

“The blueprint is the same for all, whatever age, weight, gender or level of experience”

“In terms of training others, there is nothing more fulfilling than sharing your knowledge and seeing the development and progression of someone who was once a beginner,” Fox said. “It’s something I draw great satisfaction from.

“I’ve worked with kids who have been bullied and lack any self-belief. One in particular who couldn’t look you in the eye, but within two years of starting to box he was captaining his local football team. It was amazing to see his true character emerge.

“Everybody has potential, it’s all about realising it. I have plans to train professional boxers, set up a boxing agency, create youth development schemes, and work with schools in the future, so yes, training people is definitely on my agenda.”

Renowned

Not only has Fox’s dad helped to develop his mindset and ambitions, but he has also been heavily involved with the birth of boxing gym BOXR.

“I suppose if you’re going to look at the background of my business, it would start with my dad. He is a renowned coach who has trained fighters such as Anthony Joshua and Derek Chisora.

“Our clientele is made up from a ratio of 60% ladies to 40% men which I think breaks the stereotype of boxing being a male-dominated sport”

“Boxing has always been in the family and we have owned boutique-boxing gyms for the last 15 years. The foundation was laid by him and he made it possible for the seed of our idea to be planted.”

The BOXR boot camp has been designed to give boxers a place to train, as well as giving anyone the opportunity to learn how to box, or simply to just lose a few pounds.

“We take pride in having a platform that’s beneficial to both the average customer and boxing champions,” Fox said. “The blueprint is the same for all, whatever age, weight, gender or level of experience.

“The model has been tried and tested, from housewives to professional athletes, from those struggling with weight issues to body beautifuls.

 Challenged

Credited from boxrbc Instagram
The BOXR boot camp gym

“We welcome everyone – any shape, size or fitness level.

“We work as a team to help the customer reach whatever goal they desire, be that to lose weight, sculpt specific muscle groups, improve fitness, develop social skills and self-confidence, or simply to learn boxing.”

Boxing has always been viewed as a macho sport, but Fox adds that he is keen to see those perceptions challenged by his new venture.

“Our clientele is made up from a ratio of 60% ladies to 40% men which I think breaks the stereotype of it being a male-dominated sport. Boxing is an appealing source of fitness for all.

“There’s more to it than who can throw the hardest punch. We aim to improve your cardiovascular fitness, your diet, speed and core body strength.

“These are all big factors in becoming a boxer and in staying fit in general that people really don’t look at.”