Carlos Takam and Dereck Chisora go into their must-win fight at the weekend knowing that the loser will essentially be faced with retirement. In similar circumstances for different reasons, the two heavyweights need to produce their best if they are to convince anyone that there is a boxing future for them beyond Saturday night, let alone one that includes them among the division’s best.
On paper alone, it is hard to choose between them. Chisora, the younger of the pair by three years, has had fewer fights, but has almost certainly had the tougher career. Takam, at 37 years old and with 40 contests to his name, is vastly more experienced, but will also be feeling the effect of many miles on the clock. Not all of those have been bad miles, however: his record reads 35 wins, 4 defeats and 1 draw, with all but one of those defeats coming against current or former world champions (Anthony Joshua, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin).
Chisora’s slate reads 28-8, and is probably the more suspect. Respectable losses to former world champions like Tyson Fury, David Haye and Vitali Klitschko indicate that he is capable of sharing the ring with prestigious company. But there are other losses, like the cumbersome defeat to the unheralded and unfavoured Agit Kabayel, which reveal that Chisora sometimes doesn’t deliver on the big occasions. A shame, because when he does he produces spectacular fights, like that against Dillian Whyte which comfortably won Fight Of The Year in 2016, but we haven’t seen such performances often enough from Chisora.
The fact that neither man is at his peak has attracted the usual naysayers, and it is true that we will unlikely see them in a ring with the likes of Joshua or Wilder in the near future, even with a spectacular win at the weekend. But this fight isn’t only about the future matches; as a stand alone event, this should be an exciting watch. Both can hit, both can take a hit, and both will surely be inclined to test one another given what is at stake for them.
Expect Takam to dictate early matters, his underrated jab and good movement around the ring earning him the opening rounds. Where it goes from there is anyone’s guess, and largely depends on which version of Dereck Chisora stands in front of him. A focused and disciplined ‘Del Boy’ will try to cut off the ring and work the body when he can, hoping to slow the older fighter down as the fight wears on. By the second half of the fight, Takam could be forced into trading, and this is where Chisora will want him.
The sensible money, however, is on Takam to build up a healthy lead by boxing sensibly on the back and front foot. Chisora, willing and powerful but slower than his opponent, will enjoy moments of success but will spend much of the evening trying to negotiate Takam’s 4 inch reach advantage, which Takam will use to fire home long jabs and right hands from distance. Provided he doesn’t get caught by anything heavy in the later rounds, expect Takam to emerge from an interesting fight a unanimous points winner, despite not having everything his own way.