The fight was only half the story but let's not forget what a spectacle it was
06:41 GMT, 15 July 2012
The end, when it came, was beautiful and brutal in a way only boxing can be.
Left followed right in a mesmerising dance of perfectly executed hooks, each leaving an indelible mark on the lumbering frame of Dereck Chisora.
As all 17st plus of the British heavyweight crashed to the canvas for the second time in 30 seconds, his punishment was complete. David Haye, as promised, had performed his role of judge, jury and executioner to perfection.
To the victor, the spoils: David Haye twice knocked down Dereck Chisora
What started as a shameful brawl at a press conference in Munich ended in an enthralling contest at Upton Park as Haye reminded the 30,000-strong crowd that he remains a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight ranks.
A year after limping out of Hamburg after failing to live up to his own hype against Wladimir Klitschko, Haye called out his elder brother for one last hurrah. That plea is likely to fall on deaf ears however as Vitali prepares for a career in politics following a potentially final defence of his WBC title against Manuel Charr in September.
Forty five minutes earlier, after Janis Cernouskis had stopped Karl Brabazon in the final warm-up act, the previously subdued crowd began to stir as the main event approached.
With a smile longer than Haye’s left arm, promoter Frank Warren paced the ring while rubbing his hands; perhaps in delight that his moment had finally arrived. Or perhaps it was a rain dance after the heavens had opened minutes earlier. He certainly revelled in throwing ponchos to the crowd as they sought protection from the elements.
Down he goes: Chisora is sent crashing to the canvas by Haye
Warren would later pat himself on the back and reflect on a job well done, taking one final opportunity to lambast his critics, of whom there have been many. One wonders if the Luxembourg flag taking pride of place in the centre of the ring was his way of sticking two fingers up to the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) he nimbly sidestepped to stage this grudge match.
The familiar tones of announcer Michael Buffer whipped the crowd into a frenzy as the two fighters emerged from the dressing rooms. As at the weigh-in, Chisora entered to a chorus of boos which drowned out the accompanying Gladiator theme. Dressed in a gown which was covered in the flags of the world with the customary bandana pulled up over his mouth, he was made to wait in the ring by his adversary. Eventually Haye traipsed down the tunnel to the sound of Ain’t No Stopping Us Now, wearing a red Hayemaker t-shirt and trainers, to prevent him slipping in the ring.
The pair dealt with the preliminaries very differently. While Haye paced up and down the ring with a face like thunder, Chisora looked calm and keen to make eye contact, as if to establish some sort of authority. As Buffer implored the stands to get ready to rumble, the fight was underway after the briefest touch of gloves.
Time up: Referee Louis Pabon issues the count as Chisora is beaten
Despite Haye’s prediction that he would dispense with Chisora inside two rounds, the fear remained that he would instead dance his way through the fight, doing enough to steal the sessions and ultimately triumph on points. But within seconds, that theory was expunged. The 31-year-old started quickly, finding his range with the jab as he circled the ring, probing his opponent’s defences. Chisora meanwhile controlled the centre and looked eager to land the knockout blow.
Indeed, the rest of the fight followed a similar pattern as Chisora, his eyes bloodshot, came forward as he did against Klitschko, looking to walk Haye down. He managed a clean shot at the end of the second round before enjoying his best session to date in the next, deserving at least a share of the spoils.
Although the punches that ultimately ended the contest were spectacular to witness, Haye rarely penetrated Chisora’s high guard in the preceding exchanges. His one obvious opportunity came in the fourth round when he pinned his younger opponent in his own corner and looked set to unleash his right hand. But he hesitated, as if concerned he would leave himself vulnerable if the attack failed.
Whatever his reason, Haye was far from fatigued and the fifth round proved decisive. Setting himself up with the jab, a short right followed before the same hand sent Chisora down for the first time in his career. He beat the count at eight but the end was nigh and just 13 seconds after the restart, Del Boy lay crumpled again. Once more he rose at eight but referee Luis Pabon waved the fight off, a look into Chisora’s eyes enough to determine his fate.
All smiles: Haye and Chisora show their new found respect for one another
The loser was attended to by paramedics in his corner as Haye saluted the crowd from the other three bastions of the ring. And then, after the brawl, the fence, the hate and the insults, came the hug; a unique embrace by two men who have shared a stage such as this. This new found respect continued in the aftermath, the threats and taunts from earlier in the week seemingly forgotten.
Chisora made his way from Upton Park at quarter to one on Sunday morning, leaving behind a clean-up operation that was well underway. For many, the mess left by this affair will take longer to deal with. The future of the BBBC remains in doubt after its authority was trampled on and concerns over the emergence of multiple British titles remain in some quarters.
Personally, I believe such fears are overblown. There was widespread reluctance from fighters to appear on the undercard of this fight such was the threat of expulsion by the BBBC. Time and time again we were told this fight would not have taken place had it not been for the fracas in Munich. If that is the case, and it was a one-off, then call back the hounds.
Let this fight be remembered for the spectacle it was.