More than 60,000 showed up for Derek “Del Boy” Chisora’s boxing wake on Saturday night in north London.
It was, even by the sport’s merciless code, hard to stomach on a winter’s night under the glare and flare of a crowd gathered for an expected massacre. They got what they paid for and Chisora deserves every penny of the blood money he made.
Tyson Fury, meanwhile, is blameless and acted regal before, during and after the fight. It finished in round 10 with Chisora cut under the right eye, staggering and blowing out plumes of blood from his damaged mouth. His heart and desire remained unbroken; it was ridiculous bravery in the end.
“There will never be another Del Boy,” said Fury, and he is right.
There is a strong argument that Chisora’s corner should have pulled him out earlier, but that is not how boxing works. It is a brutal game and the mindset of all involved is, by necessity, unforgiving during a fight. Still, I wanted it stopped three or four round earlier.
Fury was calculating and cold, whipping in savage short hooks and right uppercuts at will and at all points in the fight. Sure, Fury held back at times, grappled, giving Chisora moments of respite in the slaughter. It was a harsh lesson in boxing’s true nature; it’s the hurt game, a business packed with risks and fights that can often make you feel a little uneasy at your own participation. It was, trust me, only business on Saturday night.
Fury retained his WBC heavyweight title, Chisora must retire and the show will go on. The 60,000 will be back with their blood goggles on the next time any Fury fight is announced; Fury fought twice this year and was watched live by 154,000 fans.
In the ring, after the praise and hugs, Fury was confronted by Oleksandr Usyk, the Ukrainian idol who holds the other three championship belts. It was vintage stuff from the pair; Fury stood six inches from Usyk’s face and bellowed insults for two minutes and Usyk never flinched.
“I’m not scared of him, I will never be scared of him,” Usyk said. A fight for all four belts between the two has been made – the details will follow.
Fury needs a procedure on his right elbow before then. It would be the first time one man has held the four belts.
Chisora had left the ring long before the pantomime started. He is now 38, it was his 13th loss in 46 fights and the men and women in the Chisora business need to make him quit. Enough is enough.
The fight was made necessary through a series of events and circumstances. Fury needed the rounds, Usyk was unavailable for December and Anthony Joshua, who was in the mix, had other options. Against a backdrop of collapsing deals, Chisora, who was still a Top 10 fighter, agreed terms. It looked cynical, but it also made sense and that contradiction is common in the boxing business.
However, the fight was perhaps even more one-sided than expected. Fury was ruthless in parts and hurt his friend dozens of times; it was far from being the cosy retirement plan some believed.
If the Usyk fight collapses, which happens too often in the unregulated sport, there is a chance that Joe Joyce will fill the Ukrainian’s boots. Joyce joined the show in the ring at the end and was praised by Fury.
“This man, Joe Joyce, is a proper fighting man,” Fury insisted. “If the middleweight rabbit bottles it, I know Joe will fight me.”
The middleweight rabbit is Usyk, who started his professional career a few stones below the heavyweight division and was once an international amateur boxer in the middleweight division.
“Fury has to talk,” Usyk said. “I like to fight.”
Usyk has twice beaten Joshua on points in world title fights during the last 15 months and on both occasions he was much smaller and lighter.
His skills, timing and toughness diminish the disadvantages of his dimensions. Fury is no boxing fool, and will be lining up small, fast and smart sparring partners in his head right now.
It was, on Saturday night, often a difficult watch, but that is what happens in the fight game. It is a sport for big boys and girls and they all know the dangers. It was a reminder to not get too comfortable watching the old noble art.