Derek Chisora defeats Kubrat Pulev by split decision in entertaining brawl

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Don’t count Derek Chisora out just yet.

The long-time heavyweight contender, 38 years old and coming off three consecutive losses, outlasted veteran Kubrat Pulev, 41, to win a brutal 12-round fight by a split decision Saturday night at 02 Arena in London.

Two judges had Chisora winning (116-112 and 116-114) while the third favored Pulev (116-112). Boxing Junkie scored it 115-113 for Chisora.

The victory was the first for the Londoner since October 2019, when he stopped David Price in four rounds in the same venue.

“I needed a win,” he said in the ring after the fight. “I’ve lost so many fights on the road. I needed a win. And what a great way to win it, at O2 Arena. I’m buzzing right now. It feels great to be a winner.”

Derek Chisora celebrates his victory over Kubrat Pulev.  James Chance / Getty Images

Many had written off Chisora (33-12, 23 KOs) after he lost a clear decision against Joseph Parker in their rematch last December, which followed setbacks against Oleksandr Usyk (UD) and Parker (SD) in his two previous fights.

At his age and with such lack of success, how could he possibly go on? Well, he showed everyone on Saturday.

Chisora and Pulev gave fans a war better suited for younger men, as both gave and took considerable punishment.

The former’s game plan wasn’t complicated: come forward, pound the body, throw occasional shots upstairs and make your head a moving target. Pulev tried to keep the fight at range, fighting behind his jab and throwing long power shots.

Neither fighter was able to impose his plan with great success, which is why the fans got to see a gem.

Pulev was the busier fighter, letting his hands go from beginning to end. And he was able to land in spite of Chisora’s bobbing and weaving. However, if Chisora had an edge, he landed the cleaner, harder shots most of the fight – whether to the body or head.

That evidently is what impressed the two judges who gave Chisora the nod and pumped life into a declining career.

He was asked what might come next and threw out one name, that of former heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder.

“I don’t have many left in me,” Chisora said, “but what I have I want to give it all to you guys. … I’m on my way out, so I don’t want no easy fights. I want hard fights. I told Eddie the other day, ‘If you can get me the Bronze Bomber, I’ll be happy.’

“I want to fight everyone in my era. Win or lose, I just want to fight.”

Pulev (29-3, 14 KOs) a two-time title challenger, has now lost two of his last three fights. He was stopped by then-beltholder Anthony Joshua in nine rounds in December 2020 but rebounded to outpoint Jerry Forrest this past May.

Now Pulev will probably hear calls for him to retire. However, he showed more than enough in an entertaining fight to merit another chance. Both fighters did.