Frank Warren told us it was inevitable and that is how it panned out. Former heavyweight titleholder David Haye and bitter rival Dereck Chisora will settle their differences, inside the ring, on July 14 at West Ham football club’s Upton Park stadium, east London.
Details of the anticipated showdown between the warring Brits, which is likely to draw a sell-out 35,000 crowd and the biggest television audience yet for Warren’s relatively-new Box Nation channel, were confirmed Tuesday at a press conference where both fighters, who were infamously involved in an ugly brawl following Chisora’s defeat to Vitali Klitschko in Germany earlier this year, were separated by an iron fence.
Despite being on UK soil, the whole show, which will also feature Alexander Povetkin defending his WBA heavyweight title against Hasim Rahman, will be licensed by the Luxembourg Boxing Commission, as neither Chisora nor Haye hold licenses with the British Boxing Board of Control. Chisora had his suspended by the BBBoC because of his unruly antics in Munich, while Haye has not renewed his since retiring in October after last summer’s hefty beating by Wladimir Klitschko.
Haye (25-2, 23 knockouts) is relishing getting the gloves back on and clearly views this as the perfect chance to silence fellow-Londoner Chisora (15-3, 9 KOs) and take the vacant WBO international belt on offer, as well as a large step towards another crack at one of the all-conquering Klitschko brothers. He is also promising to produce a quality performance far removed from the dreadful show he put up against RING champion Wladimir Klitschko ten months ago.
“Ideally, it would have been a Klitschko — that was the fight I wanted. But it’s obviously not going to happen for a while, so really it was a no-brainer for me,” said 31-year-old Haye, a former cruiserweight titleholder, too.
“I’ll deliver this time because of the difference in caliber between Klitschko and Chisora. Wladimir is the very best on the planet and I didn’t do enough. He out-boxed me, with his long reach and physical, athletic strength.
“But the things I struggled with against Wladimir won’t be there with Chisora. He is no more than a good club fighter — and the only reason this fight is happening is because he does crazy things and says silly things and gets arrested for silly things. I haven’t looked forward to a fight as much as this in a long time. People out there want me to shut this guy up and it’s going to be fun.
“Boxing is about two guys fighting — with rules. We’ve done it before without rules and ideally that wouldn’t have happened. Then again maybe this fight wouldn’t have happened without the incident because of the hysteria and media interest surrounding it.
“I’m already in good shape, now I just have to tape it down and then teach this guy a lesson. I’ve already done that in Germany when he got in my face and I put him on his back real quick. If he wants a bigger forum for that to happen, then that’s fine.
“I don’t regret what happened in Munich one bit. When someone threatens you and gets in your face, you have to stand your ground. The other guy gets it.”
By contrast, Chisora, 28, is rather more apologetic over the madness that occurred before the world’s watching media in February and led to his suspension by the BBBoC. But he is equally confident about making Haye pay for their bust-up.
“I do regret the bit when I said I wanted to shoot him, ” said the Zimbabwe-born Englishman, currently laid low with food poisoning. “I have never had a gun, I would never want to take someone’s life and David is a father with a family. That part I do regret. It was stupid.
“But Haye is a schmuck and he was scared today. At least he dressed up for the occasion, I must give him that. He’d bought a new suit.
“But I just want to get better quickly so I can get training. I’m off to Poland for a few weeks next month as they have great sparring out there and I can also watch the Euro 2012 football as I have some tickets for some of the games.
“The fight with Haye was always going to happen because the public want it. And I will knock him out. He is all talk.”
Of course, news of the match-up and the fact the BBBoC is not sanctioning the night of action has caused predictable uproar in the UK, with rival promoters and much of the media claiming British promoter Warren, who is also Chisora’s manager, is bringing the sport into disrepute and threatening to create a major split across the whole of European boxing. That is an accusation Warren angrily denies.
“How long is Dereck supposed to pay for something and why wouldn’t they set a date for his appeal? That has only happened since today’s press conference. It’s July 2. Yet an early appeal, which I asked for, would have sorted this pretty quickly,” said Warren.
“Dereck will have been out of boxing for six months by July and while he doesn’t have a license with the British Board of Control, they told us he was free to fight anywhere else and could apply for a license with any other commission. That is all that’s happening here. It’s not an illegal fight as some are saying. This fight is being sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Commission, who have been around seven years longer than the British board. They are affiliated to the EBU, WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF.
“It’s not the end of British boxing, as I keep hearing. I believe this will be a sell-out fight and a huge event. Upton Park will be jumping come July 14. There are far worse things happening in sport and boxing and the fact is 99 per cent of people on the forums and Twitter want this fight. Whatever differences Dereck and David have, the place to settle them is in the ring. This is going to be a super night for boxing.”
The BBBoC has yet to respond to the announcement. A statement is expected later in the week.