In the movie business, sequels happen because the original captured the attention of a rapt public and left them clamoring for more. An impeccable cast, a captivating storyline or an unexpected twist can be the beginning of a timeless franchise.
But this is heavyweight boxing, and that theory is about to compromised.
Three years ago, Tyson Fury easily outpointed Dereck Chisora in a British and Commonwealth title fight. Both men entered the ring unbeaten, but amid high hopes among fans and media, the 12 completed rounds were largely forgettable. There were few cries for an encore.
Yet Tyson Fury-Dereck Chisora II arrives in televisions worldwide on July 26 from Fury’s hometown of Manchester. And, in the United Kingdom at least, the fans are intrigued. Why? Haven’t we slept through this one before?
The answer lies in what transpired between I and II. That includes bizarre behavior by Chisora – a press conference melee with David Haye, slapping Vitali Klitschko’s face and spitting water in the face of Wladimir Klitschko, for example – and the never-ending stream of crude rhetoric from Fury.
Fury and Chisora have become cultural figures on a much larger scale than the average British fighter, which sells tickets.
The fighters also happen to be the Nos. 1 (Fury) and 2 (Chisora) heavyweights in the U.K., where fans love a good heavyweight scrap. Two giant athletes, some controversy and a degree of success … it’s no wonder that fans are paying attention even though their first meeting was nothing special.
“The big boys have always been a fascination for fight fans,” said Hall of Fame boxing writer Colin Hart. “They pay to see the giants of the sport and expect an explosion of power, ending with a knockout. It doesn't always happen that way. So many heavyweight fights turn out to be tedious affairs that go the distance.”
So what will be different with the Fury-Chisora rematch? Will tedium be replaced by tenacity? Or are those expectations completely unrealistic? Can we really expect a lethargic and listless original to become a sensational sequel when these two are involved?
Enter the No. 1 salesman in British boxing.
“At the moment there’s a lack of British heavyweights who are ready to fight at top level,” said Fury (22-0, 16 knockouts), who is rated No. 4 by THE RING. “Dereck has had a few wins, and I’ve had a few wins, so the fans are interested because the rematch is an eliminator to face Wladimir Klitschko for the world title.”
Ironically, since losing to Fury, it’s Chisora (20-4, 13 KOs) who has taken part in the more significant fights. In February 2012 “Del Boy” gave a good account of himself in a WBC title defeat to Vitali Klitschko. And later that year he was halted in the fifth round of a money-spinning domestic dust-up with Haye.
His career in tatters, the enigmatic slugger has rebounded with five straight wins since early 2013.
“Since the first fight, Tyson and I have moved in different directions,” said Chisora. “I’ve boxed for the world title, had a couple of defeats, regrouped and become European champion. Tyson has remained unbeaten, but he hasn’t mixed at the same level as me, and that’s just reality.”
Don Charles, Chisora’s trainer, agrees.
“Vitali Klitschko has relinquished his WBC title and that blows the whole thing wide open for us,” he said. “The heavyweight division has been weak of late and you only have to look at Wladimir Klitschko beating up Alex Leapai for evidence. Nobody even cared about that fight.”
A certain 6-foot-9 colossus vehemently disputes Charles’ assessment of the glamour division.
“I disagree with anyone who says the heavyweight division is poor,” said Fury with a hint of anger. “Wladimir Klitschko is one of the most dominant champions in the history of the sport, and his title defense record is incredible. He wins fights easily, but that only proves how good he is, not how poor the division is.
“There is some real talent out there.”
Chisora’s success – he has annexed British, Commonwealth and European titles – has been clouded by his conduct outside the ring.
The Londoner seemed to have cleaned up his act following the Haye fracas but had another misstep during a faceoff in Manchester, when the two had to be separated after Fury made a baseless accusation that his opponent was dabbling in performance-enhancing drugs.
Peter Fury, Tyson’s uncle and trainer, said his nephew generally has nothing against his opponents – until the fight approaches.
“Tyson and Dereck are two real fighting men,” he said. “Before the fighting starts, we’re usually OK with each other but, in serious training, Tyson looks upon an opponent as the enemy. That’s the man standing in his way, and he takes no prisoners.”
British boxing history is replete with heavyweight showdowns that captured the public imagination. Henry Cooper vs. Joe Bugner vs. Frank Bruno vs. Lennox Lewis … they all were enormous box office attractions even though only one of them, Lewis vs. Bruno was contested for a world title.
Fury-Chisora II may lack nobility, but it still ticks some boxes.
“The people over here always like a British fight,” said Jeff Powell, who has covered boxing for The Daily Mail since the 1960s. “We have a fanciful notion about events like this, as evidenced by how big the Carl Froch and George Groves rematch has become.
“Chisora wasn’t in the best of shape for that first fight. However, Fury has come on a lot, so Dereck’s notion that he wins just because he’s in better condition doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I think the general feeling is that this fight is being taken very seriously by both sides, and that helps secure validity.”
Four-time titleholder-turned-promoter Ricky Hatton agrees with Powell regarding the bout’s competiveness.
“Tyson has a win over Chisora, but Dereck has picked up a lot of experience against David Haye, Vitali Klitschko and one or two others,” said Hatton, who, like Fury, is from Manchester. “For me this is the best version of Dereck Chisora there’s ever been. He’s an improved fighter without doubt.
“With Tyson there’s mixed views. Is he the real deal or is he all talk? I think this fight will tell us if Manchester can have itself a heavyweight champion of the world. I’m convinced that a rejuvenated Chisora will tell us more about Fury than any of his previous opponents.”
Fury’s expectations are considerably lower than Hatton’s but the bombast is still in full effect.
“Chisora will be in better shape, but he’s still cannon fodder,” said the 25-year-old. “When we met the first time, he was an unbeaten British and Commonwealth champion, whereas now he’s shot. He’s had really difficult fights, back to back, and he’s been knocked out.
“I’m world class, and Chisora will be taking shots all night long.”
A lot of people will be watching to see whether that’s true.