There have been times throughout Boxing history where fighters who have established themselves as stars of the sport have been placed on the same card, with the intention at least in theory of should those fighters be successful in separate bouts that it would lead to a potential lucrative fight between the two down the road. Such a scenario took place last Saturday at the Copper Box Arena in London, England as Heavyweight contenders and former opponents Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury co-headlined a much-anticipated doubleheader.
When such scenarios take place it is not uncommon to see a surprise emerge from time to time that may disrupt any potential plans for a big money fight between the two headliners. Unlike when Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins co-headlined a card under similar circumstances in June 2004, where Felix Sturm nearly disrupted the plans for a Hopkins-De La Hoya mega fight, by giving De La Hoya a much more difficult fight than many had expected, the card co-headlined by Fury and Chisora would produce no such drama.
Tyson Fury was first to enter the ring last Saturday and the primary question leading up to his fight with Joey Abell, was whether or not a cut that Fury suffered in sparring a week prior to the bout would play a factor. Fury was also entering the ring for the first time in nearly a year due to former two-division world champion David Haye pulling out of a scheduled fight with Fury twice over the last year. Some may have questioned whether or not ring rust would also play a factor.
It was apparent early on that there was no ring rust as Fury established a solid jab and dictated the fight keeping Abell at distance. Fury also however, showed his vulnerability as Abell was able to catch the 6’9 Fury with left hands periodically. Although Abell was able to land occasionally, an argument could be made that Fury gave one of his most impressive performances of his career in this fight. Fury not only showed the ability to keep his opponent at distance with a consistent jab, but in doing so he also showed his Boxing ability, which could be underrated.
Fury dropped Abell with a beautifully timed right hand in the final minute of round three and would score three more knockdowns before the fight was stopped in round four. An impressive and dominant performance by a fighter in Fury who might be in line for a title shot before the end of this year. In terms of a potential rematch with Dereck Chisora, Fury more than held up his end by turning in an impressive knockout victory. It was now time for Dereck Chisora to enter the ring against fellow former world title challenger Kevin Johnson.
In the prelude to this fight, this observer stated that Chisora would face a fighter in Johnson, who had good lateral movement and Boxing ability. An argument could well be made that this bout was an interesting fight stylistically. It could also be said however, that even if a fight looks interesting on paper, it does not always translate into a competitive or entertaining fight.
Chisora consistently forced the action using good head movement to deflect the consistent jab of Johnson. Chisora landed the harder punches of the two and was able to keep Johnson on the defensive. Chisora scored a knockdown of Johnson in the fifth round with an overhand right and continued to press the action throughout to earn a twelve round unanimous decision. With the exception of his jab, Johnson just did not offer much in the way of resistance for Chisora. Prior to this fight I stated that this fight could have represented Johnson’s last chance to reemerge as a contender in the division having dropped three of his last six fights prior to taking on Chisora.
Whether or not Johnson had a game plan in mind for Chisora is only a question that he can answer, for he clearly did seem a bit reluctant to engage in this fight. Johnson does have Boxing skills, but for whatever reason he just could not execute in this fight. Now that Johnson has lost to notable fighters Dereck Chisora, Tyson Fury, and Vitali Klitschko in his career, one might argue that Johnson is at a point in his career where he might be labeled a journeyman.
Although it is hard ignore that stance, it is important to remember that no one has been able to stop Johnson inside the distance and Klitschko, Fury, and Chisora each had their fair share of trouble getting to Johnson, despite winning by wide margins on scorecards. It would not be hard to envision some fans and experts writing Johnson off after this latest setback. This observer would not necessarily agree with such an opinion, but one thing is clear my mind. Johnson does have the talent and skills to be a top-tier Heavyweight. It is just a matter of whether he makes full use of those skills in the future and if he can, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he could bounce back.
Following this card I commented on Twitter that sometimes a win is a win and that Chisora’s victory over Johnson should be viewed as a positive. Coming out of this card there were no surprises or obstacles that emerged that might have stood in the way of a potential Fury-Chisora rematch. The card did however, shine the spotlight on two top Heavyweight contenders who will likely remain key players in the division for years to come. Sometimes for fighters it is not always about entertainment value as much as it is maintaining their position in their division. Both Chisora and Fury did what they had to do at the end of the day. Both emerged victorious in their respective bouts and likely produced the desired results in terms of a potential rematch between the two.
Even though both fighters named other potential opposition following their fights, a rematch in my mind seems to make the most sense for both. A key difference between when these two fought in 2011 and a potential rematch is both have become players in the Heavyweight division. Both have significant followings and it would seem to make sense particularly in terms of economics for a rematch to take place.
As was the case when these two fought in 2011, interest in a rematch has spread beyond the UK and should it happen would garner significant attention. Adding into the equation the potential that a rematch could be categorized as a world title eliminator to determine a mandatory challenger for Wladimir Klitschko down the line, for those reasons a rematch certainly makes sense.
It is also certainly a possibility that both Fury and Chisora could be in line for Klitschko regardless if either has mandatory status among the sport’s governing bodies. Could Fury or Chisora be in line to challenge Klitschko later this year? Anything is possible, but it is more likely that Wladimir Klitschko will spend much of 2014 making mandatory title defenses. The first defense will come in April against WBO number one contender Alex Leapai, with the winner supposedly to face IBF top contender Kubrat Purlev.
Another thing to consider is the current vacancy of the WBC world title in the division left by the recently retired Vitali Klitschko. The vacancy will be filled at some point this year when top contenders Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola meet in a rematch for the vacant championship. This landscape would seem to leave limited options for both Fury and Chisora in terms of opponents that most would consider top level opposition although top contenders such as Deontay Wilder, Alexander Povetkin, and Tomasz Adamek could also be in the mix for either. The question that I feel may get in the way of those potential fights to be made for either Fury or Chisora, could be things involving the business of the sport and where those fights would take place. It therefore, seems all the more logical in this observer’s eyes to see the two top British Heavyweights turn their attention to each other once again.
No matter how this landscape plays out it should be an interesting year and maybe even an exciting one for the Heavyweight division.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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