• Steve Bunce

Fury and Chisora on stinking pile of dead fights

Steve Bunce July 22, 2014
Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury had been due to fight on Saturday in Manchester © Getty Images

Fights have been falling out of bed for a long time. It is nothing new and it never gets easier to deal with the disappointment.

Muhammad Ali v George Foreman came close to never happening and it took the intervention of the government's secret police to persuade Foreman, who was cut during a routine sparring session, not to flee Zaire and return to America. If Foreman had left there would not have been the Rumble in the Jungle.

The news late on Monday that Dereck Chisora had injured his left hand during the last sparring session for Saturday's showdown with Tyson Fury was shocking. I had interviewed Chisora a few hours earlier for this week's podcast and the fight was still on, make no mistake.

On Monday I also spoke to Peter Fury, who trains Tyson, and I started by asking him if it was "a relief to finally have a real fight". He was delighted that all the training camps, all the failings and all the false starts were over; three hours later he was given the bad news.

"It's too much to take in right now," said Peter.

In recent years five big fights involving Chisora and Fury, independently, have collapsed in acrimony, confusion and considerable cost to everybody in involved.

In December 2010, Chisora's world heavyweight title fight with Wladimir Klitschko was called off 48-hours before the first bell. Chisora was in Germany, there had been a bad-tempered press conference and the night before Klitschko pulled out with an abdominal muscle tear. I had spoken to Del. He told me: "He's gonna back out of this fight, he don't want to fight me. He can't look me in the eye. He's scared." The following morning Chisora's prediction came true and he flew back from Mannheim.

The fight was rescheduled for the same city on April 30, 2011, and this time Klitschko withdrew in early March, claiming that the muscle tear had not yet healed. A few months later Klitschko fought David Haye instead, winning easily. Manny Steward, who had guided Klitschko's glittering career, never wanted his fighter to meet Chisora. "He's all wrong for Wladimir," Steward told me before the Haye massacre.

The Fury and Chisora fight has been talked about since late last year
"What can I do?" asked Del Boy at the time. The following year he pushed Vitali Klitschko all the way, giving the champion his hardest fight in nearly a decade.

In May of last year rumours of a fight between Haye and Fury started to circulate. The fight made sense, it would sell and it would give the winner a crack at one of the Klitschko brothers. However, Haye had not fought for nearly a year and instead opted to fight Lebanese playboy Manny Charr in Manchester in June; it was an odd fight and Haye withdrew six weeks before the first bell with a hand injury.

The first fight between Haye and Fury was announced a few days after the Charr collapse. It was Manchester again, on September 28 and it sold-out immediately. Sadly, Haye was cut with a wayward elbow in the last round of sparring and five days before the first bell the fight was off. Fury was devastated, Haye shrugged it off. "It happens," he said.

The second fight between Haye and Fury, back in Manchester, was announced in early October to take place on February 8. Fury went back to camp but on November 16th everybody in the boxing business was shocked when Haye released pictures showing him in bed in Germany having had an operation on his shoulder. "My career is over, the doctors have told me," Haye said at the time. The Fury fight was off. "I will never fight that coward," vowed Fury.

The latest cancellation, the Fury and Chisora fight, has been talked about since late last year: On Monday it was added to the stinking pile of dead fights.

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Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.