Tyson Fury to use Derek Chisora trilogy as stepping stone to undisputed crown

WBC heavyweight champion the overwhelming favourite at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and is already targeting Oleksandr Usyk

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Tyson Fury’s reputation as a showman will be put to the test on Saturday night when he defends his WBC heavyweight title against old rival Derek Chisora at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

It looks like a routine night’s work for Fury ahead of bigger fights ahead; having beaten Chisora twice before, few expect anything different this time.

Trilogies are normally reserved for close rivalries. Fury comfortably won his first two meetings with Chisora, in 2011 and 2014, the second a painfully one-sided fight that many believed would be the end for his opponent.

It says a lot for Chisora’s durability and fighting heart that he remains a headline attraction eight years later.

Fury had insisted that his win over Dillian Whyte in April marked the end of his career. Few boxers have announced their retirement more often than Fury and this time his own wife, Paris, and father, John, had declared they didn’t believe him within hours.

He did keep the retirement talk going long enough for The Ring magazine to call his bluff and declare their world heavyweight title vacant, although the WBC were in no such rush to jump to conclusions.

And while Chisora, 38, may be an underwhelming choice of opponent, it could have been so much worse. Initially Fury, 34, who had a brief sabbatical as a wrestler in WWE back in 2019, had threatened to follow the Floyd Mayweather post-retirement route of fighting on in exhibitions. He even called out UFC fighter Francis Ngannou, although if the best heavyweights around struggle to land a blow on him, the idea that a non-boxer will do better seems fanciful.

The main reason no one took Fury’s retirement on face value was that a fight with Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed world heavyweight title was there for the taking.

A deal was seemingly in place for it to take place on December 17, the night before the World Cup final, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But after Usyk beat Anthony Joshua for the second time in Jeddah in August, the Ukrainian said he would not be ready so quickly, understandable having been away from his family and war-torn homeland for months.

But Usyk is expected to be in London on Saturday and a deal is said to be close for a Fury-Usyk fight in late February or March.

Fury has gone full circle on the retirement talk and he now talks about never being able to walk away from the sport.

Fury beats Dillian Whyte in his last fight

The desire to box again this year rather than simply waiting for Usyk was less about wanting to make money than the need to stay active for his own mental well-being. Depression has struck Fury hard during his life, most notably after first becoming champion in 2015 when his life spiralled into a drink and drug-fuelled bender and he ended up spending 2½ years out of the ring.

“I don’t think I can live a normal life,” Fury said. “I won’t be able to leave this game and have a normal life unless I’m brain-trained to do that because a normal life is out of order for me.

“I will just keep going, keep fighting. I’m going to have three fights next year, starting in February with Usyk and if he wants a rematch, he can have a rematch. Then someone at the back end of the year.”

It is more than a decade since Chisora had his previous shot at the world heavyweight title when he lost a decision with Vitali Klitschko for the WBC title in Munich on a weekend that became much more notorious for Chisora’s poor behaviour around the fight - he slapped Vitali at the weigh-in - than his undoubted toughness and bravery in going the distance.

Always a wholehearted fighter, it has been foolish to write Chisora off, but lately there have been signs that his punch resistance was on the wane.

At a media workout on Tuesday, Chisora talked Fury into shaking hands on an agreement that after the referee issues the instructions on Saturday, they will not go back to their corners but start the fight in the middle of the ring as soon as the bell goes.

“We’re not in the business of robbing the public of their money, we’re in the business of producing a good fight,” Chisora said. “After all is said and done, we will break bread together. But for however long the fight goes, we’re going to go to war.”

A firefight presents Chisora’s best chance of pulling off the upset. But it also puts him in the way of danger. Chisora’s heart is unlikely to fail him but this time his chin might and an early win for Fury is likely.

Updated: December 02, 2022, 5:01 AM