Dillian Whyte vs. Derek Chisora: A War of Attrition

Two years ago, Dillian Whyte and Derek Chisora left the boxing world stunned. After a memorable build-up, the two British Heavyweights went to war, putting on a 12 round affair that’ll unquestionably live long in the memory. Entering as the fight’s underdog, Chisora was spirited on fight night, almost rolling back the years in a showing that proved regardless of record, he still had more fight to give. Whyte weathered the sporadic storms though, dictating much of the action himself and in the end, securing a controversial split decision win.

However, this fight was about more than that. Together, Chisora and Whyte had given boxing fans a moment to remember, a modern Heavyweight classic that on existence alone, had linked these two men forever. A rematch immediately seemed like an obvious fit, with a potential sequel being discussed just moments after the verdict had been announced. First though, it was time for a well-deserved break, as both fighters took off much of 2017 before returning to score tune-up wins. Unfortunately, a rematch wouldn't come next, with the rivals understandably going in opposite directions.

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For Whyte, that’d be successful, with ‘The Bodysnatcher’ outpointing Robert Helenius to take another step towards title contention. One week later, Chisora’s fate wouldn't be so positive, suffering a disappointing decision defeat to Agit Kabayel. ‘Del Boy’s failed European Title challenge wasn't exactly surprising, in actual fact serving as just another example of his frustrating, enigmatic approach. At times, Derek appears like a ferocious contender but at others, his body language feels more like that of an unmotivated gatekeeper. It’s hard to predict which version will appear on any given night but in some ways, that’s the bizarre beauty of Chisora’s persona.

No such concerns surround Whyte, a consistent performer regardless of his health or preparation. No matter who or how, Dillian Whyte fights with an almost unparalleled hunger, a palpable desperation that follows him into every bout. Whyte is always there to win and in 2018, he’s done exactly that, first emphatically finishing Lucas Browne to set up a PPV contender clash with Joseph Parker. The former WBO Champion was just months removed from losing his title to Anthony Joshua but even still, posed an immense threat to Whyte’s recent win streak.

First though, Derek Chisora was back in last chance saloon. Serving as the main support for that Whyte - Parker event, Chisora took on Carlos Takam in a fight that frankly, he couldn't afford to lose. Since that Kabayel loss, Chisora had scored a quick win against the overmatched Zakaria Azzouzi but in Takam, a far greater challenge awaited. Takam wasn’t removed from almost taking Joshua to the scorecards, and all on short notice too but stylistically, this represented a different matchup in every way imaginable.

Some expected fireworks that night in London, but the result would far exceed even the greatest expectations, as Takam immediately set a pace that laid the foundations for what would unforgettably follow. Almost pinned in the corner, Chisora stood firm within the incredible fire, taking a horrific beating in just the very first round. With the crowd pushing him forward though, ‘Del Boy’ battled through it and in the end, turned the tide. Landing the same exact punch twice, Chisora first floored Takam and then knocked him out, closing the show in spectacular fashion.

It had been the greatest night of Derek Chisora’s unique career but Dillian Whyte next took center stage, following up on Chisora’s effort with an engrossing Heavyweight contest of his own. With grit, skill and toughness, Whyte bullied Parker for much of the affair, taking a majority of the rounds before drama would take over the fight’s final moments. Parker’s confidence had grown, and as Whyte understandably fatigued late, the Kiwi took over, scoring a 12th round knockdown and threatening to halt ‘The Bodysnatcher’s recent momentum too.

In the least surprising show of heart yet tough, Whyte made it through the crisis, reaching the final bell and left the ring as a unanimous decision victor. Both men departed the O2 Arena as winners that night but considering all of the moving pieces, a rematch still felt far from a certainty. Nonetheless, common sense would eventually prevail as at long last, Whyte – Chisora 2 was finally booked for December 22nd.  With that event now just days away, the boxing world anticipates a fitting sequel, awaiting an answer as to whether it’ll be repeat, or revenge.

Logic would suggest that the smart money belongs in Whyte’s direction: the younger, fresher fighter and one that you’d assume, enters with greater ambitions. The reality surrounding Chisora’s destination is hard to ignore, this a fighter that has taken immense damage for years now, fighting the Heavyweight elite and bravely walking forward regardless. In truth though, logic suggests that Derek’s punch resistance should’ve left him long ago and based on his remarkable Takam win, that process has yet to truly take place. Concerns surrounding the topic are understandable nonetheless, but one has to ponder the same very query for Chisora’s foe too.

Though his time in the spotlight has been much shorter, Dillian Whyte’s style has already led him to some fights that in one way or another, have almost certainly taken something from him. Three years ago, Whyte was knocked out by Anthony Joshua in a wild, high octane affair. Since then, Whyte has gone to hell and back in his aforementioned wins over Parker and of course Chisora himself. While Dillian is certainly the younger man, it’s almost impossible to guarantee his status as the fresher fighter because within the whole heavyweight landscape, these two men have a fight resume only comparable to each other.

I don’t mean that in regards to their quality wins either, but instead the trend of their approach dragging them into the deepest of waters. That’s a rare visual in the glamour division and considering the mass involved, one fight like their original is honestly enough for a life-time. Stylistically, it’s hard to imagine a world in which at some point, Chisora and Whyte don’t go to war, even if only briefly. That eventuality can’t exist in a vacuum though, and its result will likely be about much more than just the punches thrown on Saturday night.

Operating as almost throwback fighters in the sport’s most dangerous division, these two rivals will forever enter fights with their in-ring past hanging harrowingly over their heads. The wear and tear of each fight along their journey, the damage sustained when fighting the world’s best. On Saturday night, only one man can move onto world title honors but if their hisotry suggests anything, even the victor will leave yet another piece of himself inside that very ring. A rematch two years in the making, this rivalry’s place in history is soon to become apparent.

With 12 rounds already in their shared tale, this feud could well find a definitive victor on Saturday night but on the other hand, it could also prove to be just part 2 of an emerging trilogy, a match of men that for better or worse, are seemingly made for each other.

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