Haye, Chisora raise hopes for brawl
Heavyweight nemeses and countrymen both predict punishment, knockouts
There are no major titles at stake and no pound-for-pound ramifications, but the fight between former heavyweight title challenger Dereck Chisora and former titleholder David Haye has still stoked major interest because, well, who the hell knows what might happen when they get together?
The loud-mouthed British big men will throw down on Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, Epix and EpixHD.com) at Upton Park soccer stadium in London, where promoter Frank Warren said more than 30,000 tickets have already been sold at the venue, which has a capacity of about 40,000.
Rafael's Boxing Blog
Get the latest scoop and analysis on the world of boxing from ESPN.com's Dan Rafael in his blog.
Clearly folks are interested, even though many view the fight as nothing more than a freak show and a train wreck waiting to happen.
Chisora and Haye talk trash with the best of them, but the reason the fight is taking place is because of the stunning scene -- stunning even by boxing standards -- that took place Feb. 18 in Munich, Germany.
Shortly after losing a decision to heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko, Chisora arrived at the postfight news conference following a gutsy performance. Haye was in the back of the room, and the two began to talk trash to each other from afar -- that is, until Chisora left the dais, walked to the back of the room and confronted Haye as the cameras rolled.
Before anyone knew what was happening, the fighters were brawling. Somewhere in the mess, Chisora was hit with a bottle, as was Adam Booth, Haye's trainer and manager, who wound up bleeding.
Then came Chisora's memorable cry: "He glassed me!" And there was also Chisora's off-the-wall threats to "physically shoot" Haye, who by then had left the room.
The police got involved and Chisora later had his license revoked by the British Boxing Board of Control. The scuffle was the culmination of a week that had produced one bizarre moment after another for Chisora, who had slapped Klitschko across the face at the weigh-in and then, in the ring before the fight, spit a stream of water into the face of heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who accompanied his older brother to the ring.
Of course, it was the postfight brawl that truly ignited public interest. Video of the news conference meltdown went viral (the YouTube version has had more than 5 million views). You didn't have to be P.T. Barnum to know what was coming next: a fight -- but with rules, gloves and paid admission -- to settle the score.
But even in boxing, where the bizarre and unseemly are typically the norm, British boxing officials wanted to no part of what they considered an unworthy fight. They refused to give Chisora his license back and declined to issue one to Haye.
Haye's had expired during his year in retirement, which followed an embarrassing performance against champion Wladimir Klitschko in their title unification fight last July, when, after directing loads of smack talk at Klitschko for a few years, Haye ran, flopped and did nothing in a lopsided decision loss, after which he blamed the loss on a sore pinky toe.
Chisora said he has no regrets about starting the brawl at the February news conference, although he admitted that his threat to shoot Haye went too far.
It will not go the distance. It's a fight. I'm not looking to box him. I'm there to fight. I want to fight. You know, whatever the round is, I want to fight and I want to punch him.” -- Dereck Chisora on Saturday's fight in London against rival David Haye
"I said I apologize [for the threat], but the rest of it I don't regret," he said. "You know, this is a fight. I love fighting, and this is what I know right now, fighting. So the only thing I regret is saying I want to shoot anybody. I never had even owned a gun. So I have regret for that and I apologize for that."
As for the bottle-smashing incident at the brawl?
"I don't really care about a glass or about anything else," Chisora said. "The fight is on."
But will there be peace when it's over? Asked if he would shake Haye's hand after the fight, Chisora said, "We'll see."
When British regulators refused to sanction Chisora-Haye, Warren got the Luxembourg Boxing Federation to oversee the fight, which is permissible under European trade rules.
"So the fight goes ahead," Warren said. "It's licensed by [the] city council, and at the moment, 30,000 tickets are sold."
Warren pointed out that ticket sales for Haye-Chisora have trumped recent well-publicized British fights such as Carl Froch-Lucian Bute, Tyson Fury-Vinny Maddalone and Kell Brook-Carson Jones combined.
"That is the high interest in this fight," Warren said.
The fight fans at the stadium or watching on television probably couldn't care less which set of suits is overseeing the fight. They just want to see Chisora (15-3, 9 KOs) and Haye (25-2, 23 KOs) beat the snot out of each other.
It's no surprise, but that's exactly what they say they plan to do.
"He's going to come out looking for a tear-up, which is the perfect style for me," Haye said at the final news conference. "If he goes out and does what he normally does, he's getting chinned. I'm healthy, strong, fit and fast. I'm looking forward to doing some damage."
Said Chisora: "It will not go the distance. It's a fight. I'm not looking to box him. I'm there to fight. I want to fight. You know, whatever the round is, I want to fight and I want to punch him."
While the 31-year-old Haye has predicted a second-round knockout, the 28-year-old Chisora said the fight would go a bit longer.
"He's going to go down in Round 7," Chisora said. "Lucky seven."
And before that seventh round?
"Wladimir played with him for 12 rounds," Chisora said of Haye. "The difference is, I'll be punishing him and giving him the worst beating he's had. I'll destroy him. I'm going to break Haye down mentally and physically. He's all mouth and he now knows that he's in a real fight against me. What's he going to do when he lands his best punches and they have no effect and I'm still in his face throwing punches?"
Whether Haye's prediction is right or wrong, he said defeating Chisora won't add luster to a career in which he was the cruiserweight world champion and then moved up to win a heavyweight belt and make two defenses before Klitschko routed him.
"Beating Chisora won't add to my legacy," Haye said. "In 50 years' time, when people look back at my career, they won't see this fight and think Dereck Chisora was a great fighter and 'Look what David did to him.' It's a fight for the night, simply because I beat him up at a press conference a few months ago. There is no doubt this fight is happening because of the brawl we had in Germany.
"Without that, he'd have been another anonymous Klitschko victim. After I knock him out, he'll go back to being a nobody. This could be my last fight if the Vitali Klitschko fight [that Haye wants] doesn't happen. I want to go out with a bang and do some damage."
MORE BOXING HEADLINES
- With Klitschko in sight, Fury to face Hammer
- Ali fighting off pneumonia, 'vastly improved'
- Caballero to defend vs. Guevara on Feb. 27
- Champion trainer Sdunek dies of heart attack
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- Brian Campbell retweeted