Dereck Chisora vs. Kevin Johnson: Preview and Prediction for Heavyweight Bout
Saturday night at the Copper Box Arena in London, all-action brawler Dereck Chisora returns to the ring to face former world title challenger Kevin Johnson. The fight is part of a heavyweight double feature, as Tyson Fury will face journeyman Joey Abell.
A wild man both inside the ring and out, Chisora is one of the division's most consistently entertaining fighters. The fight is not being broadcast in the United States, but for serious fans, it might be worth the effort to locate a live stream.
Here are a preview and prediction for the fight.
Tale of the Tape
|Per Boxrec||Dereck Chisora||Kevin Johnson|
|Record:||19-4, 13 KOs||29-4, 14 KOs|
|Weight:||About 235-240 lbs||About 240-245 lbs|
|Hometown:||London, England||Atlanta, Georgia|
A native of Zimbabwe, Dereck Chisora has developed into a popular fighter in his adopted nation. He's come to the ring heavier than 260 pounds in the past, but he's a far more effective fighter at the weight listed here and it's closer to what he has weighed in more recent fights.
Kevin Johnson is the more experienced fighter in terms of total fights and rounds, but the two are pretty equal in terms of quality of opposition. Both men have lost to Vitali Klitschko.
Johnson is probably going to need to exploit that eight-inch reach advantage in order to beat the rugged, pressuring Chisora.
In the past few years, Dereck Chisora has been one of boxing's most notorious bad boys. When he fought Vitali Klitschko in Germany in February 2012, he slapped the champion at the weigh-in, then spit water in younger brother Wladimir's face in the ring just prior to the fight.
After staging a surprisingly competitive battle against the injured Klitschko, Chisora engaged in a brawl with fellow Brit David Haye at the post-fight press conference, touching off an international incident. Five months later, Chisora lost to Haye by TKO in the fifth round.
In 2013, Chisora won four straight fights by stoppage, including a strange sixth-round finish of Malik Scott which saw the American lose track of the count after being dropped by a big overhand right.
Despite his sometimes rambunctious attitude, Chisora has shown definite signs of maturing as a fighter. Since his 2011 loss to Tyson Fury, his weight has consistently been within a good range. His defense has shown signs of improvement as well.
So long as Fury and Chisora both win on Saturday night, a rematch between them would be a very relevant fight. The winner would be well-positioned for a challenge against Wladimir Klitschko.
Kevin Johnson is a late replacement in this bout for undefeated Andriy Rudenko, who pulled out with an injury. Johnson challenged Vitali Klitschko for the world title in 2009, but has appeared on the definite downside of his career over the past two years.
In June 2012, he dropped a three-round fight to Tor Hamer in the Prizefighter tournament and lost by unanimous decision to Fury in December of that year. Last December, he looked positively sluggish in dropping a decision to 14-3 Christian Hammer.
A win here for Johnson would put him back on the path toward relevancy in the division. However, it will take a much better effort than he was able to muster his last time out against Hammer.
Chisora is a strong, athletic pressure fighter who is very good at pounding an opponent's body. When he is properly motivated and well-conditioned, he's capable of maintaining a very brisk pace for a heavyweight.
Chisora is very thick through the neck, torso and legs, and handles a punch very well. He's a born fighter and not easily discouraged.
Johnson has excellent reach and moves in and out of range very well. He likes to fade back and catch an opponent with his sneaky, counter right hand, which has fight-changing power.
Johnson is a powerfully built athlete and very durable. Along with Chisora, he's one of just four men to lose against Vitali Klitschko without being knocked out.
Chisora has shown improved defensive head and shoulder movement in recent fights, especially in his fight last year against Malik Scott. When he's in an aggressive mood, though—which is often—he has a tendency to wade forward without an ounce of caution, absorbing unnecessary punches.
It's been a few years since Chisora has come into a fight overweight, but he does have a history of it. When he lets himself get fat, he's a far less effective fighter.
Johnson tends to fight at a slow pace, with his lead left held low and used more as a pawing range-finder than a scoring punch. But if he sits back waiting to throw a big shot against a brawler like Chisora, he will be outworked and potentially mauled.
Against Christian Hammer in December, Johnson showed a bad habit of letting his right hand get drawn down, away from a good, high-guard position. It made him very vulnerable to the left hook upstairs.
Dereck Chisora Will Win If...
Chisora should come forward and cut off the ring on Johnson, employing good head and shoulder movement to make himself a tougher target to hit. Chisora needs to make it very hard for Johnson to time him and land the counter right.
Chisora should attack Johnson aggressively to the body in the first few rounds. He should throw left hooks and straight rights to Johnson's torso, both to drain Johnson's energy and draw Johnson's right hand down, away from his chin.
Once Johnson starts to drop the right hand, Chisora should let go with a big left hook upstairs.
As their fight last December progressed, Christian Hammer had some success maneuvering Johnson against the ropes and unloading on him with overhand rights. This same strategy should work at least as well for Chisora.
If Chisora can throw a lot of punches and apply relentless pressure, he should be able to outwork Johnson all night long.
Kevin Johnson Will Win If...
To win this fight, Johnson is going to need to be a lot busier with his jab than he was against Christian Hammer last December.
He has outstanding reach, and if he can pump his jab rather than lazily pawing with it, he'll have much better success with keeping Chisora on the outside, in a more vulnerable position for the overhand right.
Against Hammer, Johnson spent most of the fight sitting back, waiting for Hammer to come to him. It was a losing strategy against Hammer and could be a disastrous one against the aggressive Chisora.
Johnson should have plenty of opportunity to counter the wide-open Chisora, but if he simply sits back and waits, he might find himself with very little space to work. At least some of the time, Johnson needs to be the one to initiate and get off with his punches first.
Johnson is taking this fight on short notice, less than two months after what must have been a very discouraging setback against Christian Hammer last December. Therefore, I have to assume he's very hungry to get his career back on track.
If Johnson fights at a brisker pace here than he did against Hammer, we could be looking at a competitive and entertaining fight. Johnson and Chisora are both strong, athletic heavyweights with big-fight experience.
However, Johnson has looked like a fighter past his prime over the last two years. He's just 34, but he's been a pro for over a decade. Boxing is an intensely demanding sport and it isn't unusual for a fighter to be on his way out in his mid-30s.
At 30, Chisora has looked to be an improving fighter for the past two years. Every aspect of his game has looked better, from his conditioning to his defense to his overall attitude.
I think Chisora will push the pace in this fight, throwing and landing more punches than Johnson in just about every round. I predict he will win a unanimous decision, with scores of about 117-111 or 116-112.
In the evening's other big fight, I think Tyson Fury will knock Joey Abell out. Look for Chisora-Fury II in the summer of 2014.