David Haye and Dereck Chisora will face off this Saturday in London
The fight will take place at Upton Park in front of a crowd of 30,000
An global audience throughout 60 countries will be tuning in to the controversial bout
Women's boxing debut at Olympics may rectify some of damage done to the sport
West Ham’s Upton Park this
Money talks – that’s hardly a revelation, but the overriding feeling towards Saturday’s David Haye versus Dereck Chisora “circus fight” in London is shock and outrage that it could even take place.
With neither fighter holding a British boxing license, promoter Frank Warren had to resort to asking the little-known Luxembourg federation to sanction the bout.
It has since been expelled from the European Boxing Union for agreeing to give legitimacy to an event that no-one else would touch.
Chisora was banned by the World Boxing Council and the British Boxing Board of Control following his bust-up with Haye in Munich in February, while his former world champion opponent escaped punishment only because he had already retired.
Their ugly scuffle at a press conference after Chisora’s defeat by Vitali Klitschko, which Haye attended, has set the scene for a showdown straight from the pages of the professional wrestling handbook.
Their pantomime behavior has only served to rack up the ticket sales to close to 30,000 and secure airtime in 60 countries worldwide.
“Chisora’s not a nice guy, the fact he bites people in the ring, spits water in peoples’ faces, slaps people at weigh-ins, kisses people at weigh-ins. What’s to like?” Haye said this week.
Boxing commentator Steve Bunce has compared Haye and Chisora’s Munich brawl to Lennox Lewis’ pre-fight rumble with Mike Tyson a decade ago. Lewis punched Tyson, and in exchange the American bit his leg. This was heralded at the time as the biggest fight ever.
Needless to say this won’t be the biggest fight ever, but expect passion, expect a feisty encounter between two British heavyweights who have both gone the distance with the Klitschko brothers in the past year and are still holding out for a rematch.
Haye has pointed to worldwide attraction to the scuffle in Germany – 20 million views of a YouTube video showing him brandishing a glass bottle – as justification for Saturday’s fight.
“People are looking at it. If I’m disappointed in something, I’m not going to keep looking at it,” Haye, who lost his WBA title to Wladimir Klitschko last year, told the UK Press Association.
“Beating Chisora won’t add to my legacy. In 50 years’ time when people look back at my career they won’t see this fight and think Dereck Chisora was a great fight and look what David did to him.
“Chisora doesn’t have any titles and has been coming off three losses. It’s a fight for the night, simply because I beat him up at a press conference a few months ago.”
To give some indication of where men’s boxing is at, on the same night Britain’s Amir Khan will be fighting Danny Garcia in Las Vegas, having been reinstated as WBA welterweight champion after American Lamont Peterson was found guilty of doping following his controversial win when they met in December.
WBC champion Garcia’s trainer and father has already upped the stakes by insulting Khan’s Pakistani heritage.
“He’s going to see a Pakistani fight on Saturday and knock his son out,” Khan responded.
It’s all in stark contrast to the image that women’s boxing will be hoping to portray in the UK capital in the coming weeks, as females get to fight at the Olympics for the first time.
There’s still some divided opinion as to whether female boxers should be included at the Games, but anyone who watches the athleticism and speed of veteran world titleholders Katie Taylor and Mary Kom will be left in no doubt as to their value to the tournament.
“She is without doubt the finest female amateur boxer in the world,” Bunce said of Taylor, who has won her 60 kg division at every world championships since 2006.
According to one blogger: “Katie Taylor has single-handedly made women’s boxing an accepted, if not yet a mainstream sport. Young girls throughout Ireland lace up in clubs each week, inspired by a bona fide hero, and our collective print and broadcast media are enamored with the woman that inspired them.”
The Irish fighter’s father Peter agrees, telling the Gulf news website: “Katie’s pioneered the way for female boxing, she’s made their path a little bit easier.”
He’s referring to the likes of 17-year-old Claressa Shields, who was the youngest boxer at the U.S. Olympic trials in February and fights with an assuredness beyond her years.
Then there’s Savannah Marshall, who won Britain’s first world title on her 21st birthday in May.
“She’s winning for fun,” says Bunce.
Kom, a five-time world champion and mother of twins, has been rated as one of the world’s most marketable athletes by SportsPro magazine.
“She has the potential to turn her into an Indian sporting legend and a role model for young Indian women,” it said.
“Despite its huge population, Olympic golds have been thin on the ground for India but Kom, the daughter of a farmer, has had the kind of humble beginnings and a family-oriented appeal that could make her the archetypal national heroine.”
The name of boxing may have taken quite a battering in recent weeks with the media circus surrounding Haye vs. Chisora, but the women are sure to knock the men out of the limelight when it really matters at the London Games.
Just don’t expect the (possibly fake) blood and guts you might see this weekend.
“Amateur female boxing is more about technique and skill and evading the heavy blows than it is about smashing people up,” says Tanya Aldred in British newspaper The Independent.
“For that reason, it should appeal to those who admire the discipline of boxing but not the blood and gore.”