This weekend’s clash between Dereck Chisora and Dillian Whyte at the O2 Arena in London, a rematch of their 2016 encounter, reveals much about their respective characters and perhaps particularly Whyte’s, who has the greater career momentum and the higher rankings to risk.
In fact, if Whyte succeeds, and places himself at the front of the ‘Not Deontay Wilder’ queue for Anthony Joshua in April, it will be the latest in an impressive sequence of qualifying victories that began with the contested points verdict over Chisora.
In the two years since, Whyte has added the scalps of American trial horse Malcom Tann and Finnish giant Robert Helenius to his resume, before then brutalising Lucas Browne in quick time and outpointing former WBO World Champion Joseph Parker this year.
As with all heavyweight prize fights, leading boxing bookmakers are extending a range of markets for the contest.There was much to enjoy in their first encounter, a bruising battle in which both were hurt, at times exhausted and disorganised but resolutely unbowed.
It is in the pride they demonstrated, and the ebb and flow of the action, not to mention the unpopular verdict for Whyte, that demand for a rematch was created.
Whyte vs Chisora: The Rivalry
Despite nomadic beginnings, Whyte was born in Jamaica and Chisora in Zimbabwe, there is an element of turf war about their rivalry too.
London is the turf, but they are also vying for territory in a heavyweight landscape freshly invigorated by, first, the Anthony Joshua effect and, latterly, the return of Tyson Fury.
Title and purse opportunities abound, though elusively for Whyte so far, and in their own status as a pay-per-view pairing, millions to be made capitalising on the buoyancy of the British boxing market and their hard-fought reputations.
Despite living in an era of interminable film sequels and relentless television seasons, boxing doesn’t capitalise on the potential of rematches and trilogies enough. It is refreshing to have the evidence of their first clash to build upon in previewing Saturday’s contest.
Whyte, who was favourite in 2016, as he is now (3/10 with William Hill), survived a series of tormented moments, though he was not knocked down, and struggled to adapt to Chisora’s sweeping right hand to the body followed by a left hook to the head.
It was a potent weapon for Chisora throughout but he failed to find a finishing combination, in no small part because his conditioning prevented him from being on the offence for long enough periods.
Can Chisora Do Better?
Chisora is not recognised as a concussive single shot puncher and Whyte, though bludgeoned by wide left hands, was able to absorb the older-man’s blows and then regroup as Chisora relented.
There is scope to believe Chisora can do better, he enters this fight in ‘sharper’ condition and with a more focussed mind-set, though he has history of disappointing at key moments, not least in ponderous defeats to Kubrat Pulev and Agit Kabayal – he is a hard fighter to trust.
His recent knockout win over Carlos Takam, arguably a career best, was a mild surprise and catapulted him toward the heavyweight top 10.
For a man with eight defeats, which would usually be an unmarketable number in the modern era, Chisora yet again enthrals us with his courage and durability and entices the sentimental to believe he could yet pose problems for those, like Whyte, above him in the rankings.
Whyte is the bigger man, though not by the margins Chisora is accustomed to facing, and has improved significantly since his narrow win two years ago.
Whyte vs Chisora: The First Fight
Rewatching the first fight, Whyte showed heart and durability too and threw punches with more poise, though there were some lumbering, wild swings from him too.
He countered effectively and utilised the uppercut when Chisora tried to bring the fight in to close quarters. It will be a tactic he will likely deploy again, if Chisora elects to maraud forward as he customarily does.
In the Takam fight, Chisora was forced back to the ropes a number of times but showed patience, ring craft and self-belief to fire back counters of his own as Takam advanced and eventually knocked out the gallant and stubborn Frenchman.
For those willing to trust the evidence of that victory, Chisora can be backed at 5/1 for the knockout win with Bet365.
Personally, I’m inclined to believe the second fight will follow the age-old idiom about all rematches; that it will be similar to the first but clearer for the original victor.
That directs me to a Whyte points win, in which he will box more to use his reach advantage and keep Chisora out of range for sustained periods.
William Hill offer 11/8 on a Whyte points win, but this could be ‘spiced up’ by opting for Betway’s 9/4 on a Unanimous Decision or even 10/1 on a Split Decision win for Whyte, in which Chisora’s aggression appeals to one of the judges.