bet365's Rob Tebbutt has his say on Tyson Fury's devastating destruction of Derek Chisora which ended in a 10th round stoppage for the Gypsy King at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium...
It was an eery feeling of de ja vu…
More than eight years removed from a dominant eleventh round TKO of Derek Chisora at London’s Excel Arena, heavyweight kingpin toyed with his old friend in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The crowd cheered, sang and ultimately left the north London venue satisfied at seeing the world’s premier heavyweight in action. Though, in truth, the word ‘action’ may be a little misleading.
Fury picked, prodded and poked Chisora in the early rounds, before pummelling him into submission in the tenth round of a bout that was harder to watch than an episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys.
This was not sport, but rather a night of WWE-style entertainment. Fury played the lead role of superstar babyface and Chisora that of a grizzled veteran, known for giving paying customers their pound of flesh each time he appeared from behind the curtain.
For a fighter of Fury’s mercurial talent, the 30-minutes-or-so of ‘competition’ was little more than a lucrative sparring session. The pre-fight build-up was littered with talk of giving his long-time friend a ‘payday’ and an ‘opportunity’. Even the man known as ‘War’ was reluctant to bite the hand that fed him throughout a lukewarm lead in.
But it sold. That’s not in question.
The selling power of ‘The Gypsy King’ has never been more evident than drawing a close to 60,000-strong audience in the middle of winter to watch him face a man with one win in his previous four outings - and someone who had already proven himself an inferior fighter not once, but twice.
Boxing needs spectacles to remain relevant. In recent years, the showpiece stadium fight has put boxing in the sporting shop window for fans. Even in the midst of World Cup mania, the lure of seeing Fury box in the UK for only the second time in more than four years was too much to ignore, and the fans came in their droves.
Chisora played the part many expected of him. He marched forward gamely in the opening round, swinging wildly at the 6ft 9in giant across the ring, hoping against hope that he would deliver the one punch that could change his life forever. It never came.
As early as the third round, Fury had completely neutralised whatever threat the Finchley man was meant to pose him. Chopping away with straight right hands and stinging uppercuts from both stances, Fury shook the war-torn Chisora with every meaningful blow. It beggars belief that the fight lasted into the tenth round.
The only person braver than Chisora was his lead trainer Don Charles, who left his man in the ring several rounds too long against a man in Fury that, in this particular situation, was simply infallible.
A merciful (if still overdue) stoppage from referee Victor Loughlin in the tenth round brought the hideously one-sided beating to an end and spared Chisora from further unnecessary punishment.
Fury raised his arms aloft, was announced as the winner and then proceeded to talk about “real fights” with unified heavyweight champion and WBO Interim champion Joe Joyce, both of whom were ringside.
He has become a master salesman, Fury. He understands the power of self-promotion and - after a spell in the WWE - has managed to strike a fine balance between pantomime and pugilism in recent years. This was not a “real” fight. It wasn’t marketed as a “real” fight, yet still the spectators cheered.
While the commercial aspect of the night will surely be considered a success, boxing must be careful not to veer too far into the realms of ‘sports entertainment’.
Should Fury go on, as expected, to face Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight title in the first quarter of 2023, all will be forgiven. However, a thought must be spared for Derek Chisora, who traded his health for a reported £2m purse on Saturday night.
The circus rolls on…