Boxing took a step forward this weekend when it gave us an entertaining mega-fight between two highly respected and talented superstars in the sport with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto on Saturday night. It has now taken at least five giant steps backwards with today's announcement that disgraced boxer Dereck Chisora will be fighting his nemesis and fellow bad boy, David Haye. This heavyweight fight will take place on July 14 at West Ham's Upton Park Stadium in London and will be televised on Box Nation, the UK boxing subscription channel.
There will be a large group of fans looking forward to such a grudge match between the two British heavyweights who made worldwide headlines when they brawled at the press conference following Chisora's unanimous decision loss to Vitali Klitschko on February 18 in Munich. Chisora's antics also included slapping Vitali at the weigh-in and spitting water at brother Wladimir prior to the bout.
Following a hearing of these incidents in March, Chisora was suspended indefinitely by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC). He filed an appeal that was originally scheduled for May 14 but was subsequently delayed until the summer due to other pressing legal matters. The suspension did not prohibit Chisora from obtaining a license elsewhere.
The WBC also banned Chisora indefinitely in February pending completion of an anger management program. Such ban only applies to the WBC and none of the other three world sanctioning bodies.
Haye, meanwhile, remained unscathed since he retired in October 2011 following his unanimous decision loss to Wladimir Klitschko earlier last summer. He likely would have had a difficult time getting approval for a license from the BBBofC upon his return to boxing.
Chisora's promoter, Frank Warren, took full advantage of the loopholes and filed a license with the Luxembourg boxing commission which is affiliated with the European Boxing Union (EBU). The license has been issued to both Chisora and Haye, enabling the two men to fight each other.
Adding insult to injury, the fight will take place in London right under the nose of the BBBofC since there is nothing to stop a fight from being staged there if it is licensed by the boxing authorities of another European country. There is a feeling among some observers that this fight may be the biggest British heavyweight bout since Lennox Lewis fought Frank Bruno in 1993.
The feeling from this particular observer is that this is an utter travesty to boxing and exploitation of the highest order. It is an attempt to cash-in on an unfortunate event that cast an ugly light on these two fighters and the entire sport of boxing. Warren's position is that Chisora has a right to make a living and that he is operating within the guidelines of the BBBofC's ruling.
"What I'm doing is legal and lawful," he said. "I have a managerial contract with Chisora, I have legal obligations to him and I won't have these compromised by the British Boxing Board of Control.
"When they [ the BBBofC] made their decision, they said he was able to apply for a license in another jurisdiction. That was said at the hearing, and that is what he's done."
While it may be legal and lawful, it allows two men to represent the very sport they disgraced. It is a privilege to compete as a professional athlete, not a right. Aside from the obligatory public apology made by Chisora in the days following the incident with Haye, neither man has done anything to embrace this privilege or help reverse the damage they caused to the image of the sport.
There has been no confirmation that Chisora has completed an anger management course or that Haye has even cooperated with Munich police regarding his role in the February brawl. While neither action is a condition of them getting this license, it would at least show some level of accountability and desire on their part to effect meaningful change in their behavior.
"If these two had not had the punch-up, no-one would talk about them."
That is the other major issue with this situation. The press conference brawl is the sole reason this fight is taking place. The 28-year old Chisora at 15-3 (9 KO's) hadn't exactly been lighting the world on fire, losing rather definitively against superior fighters such as Tyson Fury and Vitali.
Haye (25-2, 23 KO's), the former WBA heavyweight titleholder and unified cruiserweight champion, was dreadful in his July 2011 fight against Wladimir. After a good deal of trash talk leading up to the fight and his threats that he was going to expose the long-time champion as a fraud, Haye wound up losing an uneventful 12-round unanimous decision and blaming it on an injury to his little toe. He then slunk into retirement and repeatedly indicated that he would only come back to fight a Klitschko for a world title.
The 31- year old Haye has quickly resumed the trash talking, something we will likely have to regularly endure leading up to the fight.
"I am so glad he [ Chisora] has got a good chin because if he didn’t have a good chin he would be blasted out in the first round.
"This means I will give him a nice, slow, concussive beating.
"I tried to knock him out in Munich and this is the opportunity to shut him up."
Haye's comments and his bragging of the incident in Munich add to the disgrace and further fuel the fire to generate more money. By the time he faces Chisora, he will have been out of the ring for over a year so pre-fight trash talk may be the best he can do.
The good folks of El Paso were successful in their recent efforts to keep the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. – Andy Lee fight at the Sun Bowl. Perhaps, the British fans should raise a petition of their own to prevent this sideshow from taking place in their fine country as was intended.
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