Derek Chisora entered his 43rd fight week with a boombox on his shoulder, all-smiles and singing Elvis and Sinatra. But they rest easy as legends with their legacies secured forever. Chisora, evergreen despite the years, fights, controversies and glories racking up, is still battling for his.
He will be remembered as a cult hero of British boxing but the possibility still exists for something more if he can relaunch himself against Joseph Parker on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
But time is of the essence – Chisora is 37 now, and Parker needs a statement win to resurrect his own hopes. This is a heavyweight fight that will be won and lost when the going gets tough, and when the depths of their desires are tested.
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What drives Chisora to keep slugging away, nine years after his sole world title fight against Vitali Klitschko, is an addiction to the danger-zone, an unrelenting will to put himself in harm’s way. He believes this is where he thrives and where Parker fails.
“He’s never been there,” Chisora tells Sky Sports. “Look at all of his fights, he’s never been there. Since he became world champion, he’s never been in that environment. I’ve been there so many times. I understand where it is.
“It’s hard to walk away when it gets hard because how the hell would you walk down the street?
“‘There’s that guy who quit!’
“I love to be in that position. I live to be in that position. I complain in the gym when they put me in that position. But then say thank you.”
There is a perception of Parker that he is trying to destroy that he is too polite, not cut out for this harsh sport. Tonight he fights to claw back the aura lost to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte in 2018.
“Joseph says so much but when he comes to the party he doesn’t bring anything, apart from running away,” Chisora says.
“I’m going to knock him out. Chase him, hit him everywhere.
“He will be on his bike. He might have a new trainer but his ways of fighting won’t change. He will box the same way – run, slow the pace down, survive.”
New Zealander Parker has a heritage of respect and honour which Chisora interprets as weakness.
“Joe is a nice guy but he’s no angel,” warned his trainer Andy Lee.
“I am too nice,” Parker says. “I am nice before and after the fight. But when the bell goes he will get a different Joseph. I respect him but I want to hurt him.”
There is a sincerity to Parker when he explains that his first reign as world champion passed him by. He won the WBO title against Andy Ruiz Jr in New Zealand, becoming a national hero and one sharp point in a triangle with Joshua and Deontay Wilder.
“I’m doing it for myself,” he says about this next challenge. “In the past I was doing it for other people – my parents, family, my country. I didn’t really appreciate it when I was world champion.
“Now that I’m doing it for myself? I’m extra motivated.
“The hardest part about being a fighter is being away from my kids and my wife. I miss a lot of things, them growing up, birthdays, events. But in order to achieve what I want, I made a choice to fly away.”
Parker phoned Tyson Fury for advice on a new trainer and, just days later, was on the other side of the world with Andy Lee. Lee was part of the Fury camp which strategized Wilder’s downfall.
There was a bizarre moment this week when Chisora called into question the KO prowess of Lee. The former middleweight champion, Chisora was unaware, had dynamite in his fists during his heyday. If he overlooks Parker’s power in a similar way it will be even costlier.
“It’s not a secret what Derek will bring,” Parker says. “He will pressure from the beginning. He still has a lot to give, he’s still very tough.
“From me? Expect good action. A smarter fighter with better movement and better speed.
“I don’t fear anything. He’s been around a long time, he has a lot of experience, but there comes a point where it is too much. I will be too much for him.”
The latest version of Chisora has veteran American Buddy McGirt in his corner and David Haye as his manager. They will each know that Chisora can’t afford to waste any time in the autumn of his career.
But maybe the old dog has learned a new trick. He cordially ate breakfast with Parker this week, joined by Spiderman, teasing his rival who withdrew from a previous fight citing a spider bite. Then they danced during a face-off.
Vintage Chisora mind games. If he has judged Parker correctly as meek, it is a masterstroke. If not? Disaster awaits.
Watch Chisora v Parker and Taylor v Jonas on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 6pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Non-Sky TV subscribers can book and watch it here.
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