The first fight between Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora was a heavyweight grudge match to remember. Plenty of fuss was made about their pre-fight antics but all was forgiven as fans watched the pair go to war in December of 2016. Two years on, on December 22nd, fans can expect another genuine battle of the big men.
The two men have changed though. Dereck Chisora is no longer ‘Del-Boy’ and no longer the eternal trouble-maker. He’s calling himself ‘War Chisora’, he’s found religion and, perhaps even more surprisingly, he’s got David Haye in his corner.
How much Haye can offer the Chisora camp has been hotly debated though; the two Bellew build-ups taught boxing fans not to take Haye at his word. However, if he’s improved Chisora’s engine even half as much as he claims, we could see the best Chisora performance in years.
Haye claims his charge is working harder than ever and will be able to work harder than ever on fight night too. He told Sky Sports: “I’ve been so pleasantly surprised that he’s genuinely willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how much pain he’s going through.
“Everything’s targeted, everything’s markered. We know what his heart rate is, we know how hard he’s pushing, so come fight night he doesn’t have to worry about punch output, he can just let his hands go for twelve rounds.”
A more scientific, targeted approach to fitness could certainly benefit Chisora. Big changes were needed too though. A torrid 2017 loss to Agit Kabayel gave him his 8th defeat and Chisora was getting bullied and beaten-up by Carlos Takam before he was able to capitalise on the Frenchman’s fatigue in spectacular fashion.
Chisora told Sky Sports: “I partnered up with David, to get that extra twenty percent which I was lacking before.”
Things have changed in the Dillian Whyte camp too. He’s relocated his training and works closely with Loughborough University’s famous sports science department. He showed just how far he’s willing to go, when last time out he conquered Joseph Parker, despite going into the fight with a broken hand and a fractured rib.
That desire is further evidenced by the fact he took the fight. Whyte could easily have bided his time and ended up in a high-profile fight for life-changing money. He may well be Joshua’s opponent for April as far as Eddie Hearn is concerned. A loss to Chisora would jeopardise that.
Whyte does seem likely to get the job done, however. Sparring partner, Dave Allen, described him as one of the most improved heavyweights going and Whyte sees his own improvement too. He told Sky Sports: “The training’s different. The Mind-set’s different. I’m a lot more mature. A lot more grown.
“I’ve been living the life of a proper athlete for the last three years. I believe I’ve got another 30 percent improvement to go in my career.”
Recent performances stand as testament to that improvement. Whyte knocked down Joseph Parker twice; Anthony Joshua couldn’t even manage once. That comparison is a flawed one though as Parker fought a very different fight against Whyte to the one he did against AJ. That aside, fighting through the broken hand, which also meant Whyte had had limited sparring in preparation, was hugely impressive. His brutal knockout of an under-prepared Lucas Browne is a credit too, though Browne was a long way from his best.
On paper Chisora presents less of a challenge than Parker but, as Carlos Takam found out to his detriment, ‘War Chisora’ doesn’t always read the script. Whyte doesn’t seem fazed though, he told Sky Sports: “He’s an eccentric weirdo. He’s a proper weirdo. I don’t know. He beat Carlos Takam. Takam was pounding him, I thought he was going to develop brain damage from that fight.”
Both fighters have been bold, making dramatic changes to their careers. Whyte relocated and delved into sports science, while ‘War Chisora’ embraced an old nemesis and a new religion. In Chisora’s case the change may have come too late. But there is a chance that the new regime may be the missing piece in his boxing jigsaw. On balance though, expect Dillian Whyte to continue his rise. A Whyte win, however it comes, will pave the way for a showdown with AJ in April, pending other heavyweight business.