THE LAST CHANCE SALOON FOR CHISORA & PRICE
It isn’t often that a fight colliding two ageing stars in their declining years, placed on the undercard of a genuine 50-50 unification title fight, can hold as much public interest as the main event. But that is the case on Saturday, as Derek ‘War’ Chisora (31-9) faces David Price (25-6) at the o2 Arena in chief support to the WBA, IBF and WBC super lightweight unification fight between Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis.
Chisora’s is a career of reinvention and one whose staged evolution is clearly marked in recurring defeats. There were the necessary callow years of inexperience, where he built a record of 14-0, beating fellow Brits Danny Williams (53-28) and Sam Sexton (twice). He lost his 15th fight to Tyson Fury (29-0-1). Each loss on his record is to a respected opponent belonging to that final championship talent level just outreaching his own, and bookends propitious periods of sanguine promise.
Following Fury, he rebuilt against Remigijus Ziausys and then entered the phase where he lost three consecutive fights against fighters all belonging to that classier, championed category: Robert Helenius (28-3), Vitali Klitschko (45-2) and David Haye (28-4). A further five-fight rebuild, which included victories over Malik Scott (38-3) and Kevin Johnson (34-16-1), before another loss to Tyson Fury, this time for the European, British and WBO International titles. Another four-fight rebuild and then a loss to Kubrat Pulev (27-1) for the European title. The Pulev fight was back in 2016; he has fought nine times since then, losing three times to Dillian Whyte (twice) and the talented prospect, Agit Kabayel (19-0).
The first Whyte loss was a contentious split decision; the second a conclusive and devastating 11th round knockout. He’s rebuilt from the latter with victories over Senad Gashi (19-3) and most-recently, Artur Szpilka (22-4), winning this recent showdown with his own concussive 2nd round knockout. And now, in his 41st professional fight, he’ll face the heavy-handed David Price.
David Price’s career is viewed outside of Liverpool as symbolic of underachievement and disappointment. A successful super-heavyweight amateur, he won three ABA titles, bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and gold at both the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2008 EU Championships. As a professional, he has held the English, British and Commonwealth titles, defeating John McDermott (28-8) and Sam Sexton (24-4) and successfully defending against Audley Harrison (31-7) and Matt Skelton (28-9). At this point, he was 29 years old, undefeated 15-0 and seemed destined for world honours. Two stoppage losses to Tony Thompson (40-7) soon changed that.
There was a period of rebuilding before another surprise loss to Erkan Tepper (20-3), fighting for the vacant European title. This was in 2015; Price has fought nine times since then, losing to Christian Hammer (24-6), Sergiy Kuzmin (15-1), where he retired injured, and comprehensively and concussively against Alexander Povetkin (35-2), for the WBA and WBO Inter-continental and International titles. He comes into this fight on the back of three victories against Tom Little (10-7), the-biting-Kash-Ali (15-1) and most recently, Dave Allen (17-5-2).
This intrigue in this fight is really who can prevail between a renaissance man, Derek Chisora, and the man who has been a fortunate and foundational staple of Matchroom shows, along with Conor Benn and Dave Allen, David Price. Both enjoy a popular following: Chisora’s garnered in appreciation or curiosity at his outlandish behaviour outside of the ring – behaviour which has included spitting water in the face of Wladimir Klitschko, slapping Vitali Klitschko during their face-off, trading punches with David Haye at the Klitschko press conference and throwing a table at Dillian Whyte during their own press conference – and Price’s due to being a seemingly honest and decent man, and one who was serendipitously born in Liverpool, which for a boxer indomitably guarantees you a passionate and devout following.
Chisora has stated in the build-up to this fight that he wants to fight Oleksandr Usyk (17-0) next. Price has talked about staying either at British or European level, retiring or possibly stepping up to world honours if ‘the right fight’ comes along. At 36, and against those who represent a ‘step up and a ‘right fight’, it is hard to see Price prevailing now where he has fallen short before. Chisora vs Usyk is an interesting and sellable prospect and one this writer hopes Saturday’s outcome can lead sequentially to.
Tune in Saturday to find out.