For Chisora, Fury, it's about winning
The chance for an eventual heavyweight rematch is in play on Saturday in London
The plan is straightforward, and it begins with a pair of showcase fights.
British heavyweight contenders Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury will face separate opponents Saturday at the Copper Box Arena in London (Integrated Sports PPV, $24.95, 4 p.m. ET in the United States, BoxNation in the U.K.). Victories by both fighters will mean one thing: an eventual rematch.
Their fights on Saturday are not against serious contenders, so Chisora and Fury are both expected to win. But it's boxing -- so you never really know.
Looking for a win
Dereck Chisora-Kevin Johnson
Tyson Fury-Joey Abell
Where: Copper Box Arena, London
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
TV: Integrated Sports PPV
In the main event, Chisora (19-4, 13 KOs), 30, meets the better of the two opponents. He takes on former title challenger Kevin Johnson (29-4-1, 14 KOs), 34, of Atlanta, in a scheduled 12-round fight. The 25-year-old Fury (21-0, 15 KOs) will face club fighter Joey Abell (29-7, 28 KOs), a 32-year-old southpaw from Coon Rapids, Minn.
Chisora was originally supposed to face Ukraine's Andriy Rudenko before he dropped out because of a torn Achilles tendon, and Fury was initially scheduled to face Gonzalo Omar Basile of Argentina, but he pulled out because of a lung infection.
But who Chisora and Fury are facing is not even all that relevant, at least in terms of the buildup to Saturday's card. They are both heavy favorites, so it's really all about getting ready for their expected rematch. They will both fight on Saturday and then Fury is expected to have one more fight in the spring before they meet in the anticipated rematch in the summer.
"The plan is for both of them to come through their fights on the night and then the pair will [eventually] meet in a massive rematch in June," said promoter Frank Warren, who hopes to have it sanctioned as a world title eliminator. "Because it's the biggest fight out there for them and it's a fight that the public want to see, the only place for it to happen would be a football stadium, a real summer extravaganza between the big men of British boxing before the World Cup."
Fury and Chisora squared off in July 2011 in a much-hyped showdown. They engaged in an exciting fight, although Fury pounded his way to a clear decision against an obviously out of shape Chisora to win the British and Commonwealth titles.
Both then went their separate ways. Chisora eventually got a shot at a world title in 2012, but he was soundly outpointed by Vitali Klitschko, and then knocked out in the fifth round by former world titleholder David Haye later in the year.
Since then, however, Chisora's career has been on the upswing. He has notched four consecutive wins and claimed the European title.
Fury went on to win six more fights after bearing Chisora, including a lopsided decision against Johnson, who was routed by Klitschko in a decision loss in a 2009 world title bout, and a seventh-round knockout of former cruiserweight titleholder Steve Cunningham last April. Against Cunningham, however, Fury (in his American debut) was knocked down in the second round and had to survive major trouble before rallying.
The knockdown at the hands of a much smaller man has some skeptical of Fury's chances against the bigger hitters -- and bigger men -- in the division. Fury, as boastful and braggadocios as anyone in boxing, brushed off the questions about his chin, even though Abell is a hard puncher.
"I couldn't care a damn. All I know is that [beating Cunningham] moved me forward," Fury said. "I'm not bothered how many times I get turned upside down as long as, at the end of the fight, it's my hand that gets raised and I move closer to my goal.
"Everything about the Cunningham fight, from fighting at Madison Square Garden in New York, to the buildup, to the knockdown, to the brutal finish, was great experience for me which I'll bank for later on."
After beating Cunningham, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Fury was twice scheduled to face Haye in what would have been another huge all-British fight, but Haye bailed both times, claiming injuries, leaving Fury looking for a new dance partner.
Warren came calling and made a deal with Fury and promoter Mick Hennessy.
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"For a while I've been ready and waiting for big fights," Fury said. "Frank Warren pulled his finger out and produced the goods, put money on the table. That's what this is all about. I've already beaten Dereck Chisora, but I'll happily beat him again for another fat, juicy paycheck."
While Chisora and Fury have both said they are not looking past Saturday's fights, it's hard to truly believe them because they also keep talking up their rematch in the next breath.
"I've been out of the ring for what seems like a lifetime. But in reality, it's only 11 months or so. So it's very important to get myself back in there, get myself back to winning ways, and on to the next fight," Fury said. "You can never overlook anybody. I'll be taking this fellow very serious. I've been training hard, my diet's good, everything's good. So it should be OK. I should come through.
"This fight between me and Dereck Chisora is the heavyweight fight of Britain, isn't it? It's the only heavyweight fight out there, especially involving two British heavyweights, that is worth mentioning and worth talking about, and it's going to get the people talking because opinions [are] what counts. We've already fought before. I have that victory. Different game plans and different nights, different things arise."
Said Chisora, "I've watched a few of Johnson's fights. The way I fight and the way he fights is totally different. I'm looking for a knockout -- so he can run and run, but there's going to be pressure on him. I'm going to go out there looking for him and I'm going to hurt him."
And then Chisora also did his best not to look ahead to Fury.
"I'm not looking at anything expect Kevin Johnson right now," he said. "I'm not looking at any other fight in the future. All I'm focused on is beating Kevin Johnson."
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