Emanuel Steward reckons David Haye versus Dereck Chisora this Saturday, at Upton Park, London, is an unmissable heavyweight encounter and definitely worth all the hype and attention.
Yet should Chisora take out fellow-Englishman and bitter-rival Haye, his reward could be a long overdue shot at Wladimir Klitschko, THE RING’s undisputed heavyweight champion. That, according to Steward, Hall of Fame trainer to the Ukrainian, would be an even bigger attraction in a division that regularly fails to capture the fans’ imagination.
Twice Zimbabwe-born hot-head Chisora was slated to meet all-conquering Klitschko. Twice he missed out because Klitschko withdrew. Instead, he eventually ended up losing on points to older brother Vitali, the WBC beltholder, earlier this year in Germany, where a brave display in the ring was totally overshadowed by his outrageous actions outside it.
But no matter the controversy surrounding Chisora, including slapping Vitali at the weigh-in, spitting in Wladimir’s face and the infamous press-conference brawl with Haye, Steward still rates the 28-year-old as a genuine boxing talent.
The same applies to Haye (25-2, 23 knockouts) - despite the former WBA holder’s feeble efforts 12 months ago when he suffered a wide points loss to Wladimir. However, of the two warring British heavyweight contenders, Steward fears the threat of Chisora (15-3, 9 KOs) most.
“If it wasn’t for me being on the Amir Khan (vs. Danny Garcia) fight commentating for HBO, then this is the one fight in the last year or two that I wouldn’t miss for anything,” said the 68-year-old legend on Box Nation TV. “I have a lot of interest in this bout. Not just because it relates to the heavyweight division and, possibly, Wladimir, but as a fight fan. It maybe a negative event with the federation but I think it’s a very exciting fight.
“I have always told Wladimir that the toughest fight he could have is against Dereck Chisora. Dereck may have been in a few situations but I’ve always felt his style and make-up was going to be more trouble to us than David’s. I have a lot of respect for both men. But we figured one or two moves that could neutralise David and it worked. Chisora is a tough, tough guy.”
Not that Steward can pick a winner from the rebel bout, which although in the UK is sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation – much to the fury of its British counterparts who recently suspended Chisora indefinitely over the mayhem he caused in Munich.
Steward calls it a 50-50 clash, unlike IBF, WBO and WBC holder Wladimir, who favors faster Haye, 31.
“Wladimir thinks the fighting edge should go to David because of his speed. Myself, I am dead even. I’m right down the middle. It’s definitely going to be a fighting fight, though,” he said.
If Chisora, who is managed and promoted by Frank Warren, pulls off a momentous victory he will be back in the mix for a second title bid – this time against Wladimir. Given what occurred between the pair in Germany, Steward predicts that would be another highly-anticipated grudge scrap, capable of eclipsing the huge interest in Haye-Chisora.
“This may be leading to a better situation,” he said. “If Chisora does win the fight, then the biggest heavyweight fight to be made in a long, long time, I think, can be him against Wladimir. Again, that is a fight I would not want to miss.”