Dereck Chisora is on a four-fight win streak heading into his battle with Kevin Johnson on Saturday. The fight will take place at the Copper Box Arena in London. If Chisora wants to maintain his momentum, he needs to beat the veteran Johnson convincingly.
Chisora is experiencing a rebirth in his career. He went from being one of the most highly regarded young heavyweights in the world, to a bit of a punchline.
Before his current win streak, Chisora had dropped three fights in a row, and four of five in the extended stretch. Chisora was stopped by rival David Haye, outclassed by Vitali Klitschko and outpointed by Tyson Fury and Robert Helenius.
Those are some of the most significant names in a sparse heavyweight division. Mixed in with the defeats were run-ins with the law and other potentially negative occurrences like the one below.
It's true, Chisora's wins haven't come over opposition on par with the foes he failed to defeat. But almost anyone who has watched him fight in the last two years can see how he's improved. I use the word "almost" because not everyone is a believer in the "new and improved" Chisora.
Lace Up Boxing isn't impressed.
People r getting way too carried away with this "New & Improved" Chisora , yes he's not as fat & he's slightly more disciplined whoopie doo— LaceUpBoxing (@LaceUpBoxing) January 8, 2014
Chisora's weight is under control, he's less volatile and more serious about his craft. Chisora told Tom Gray of The Ring Magazine: “When I’m motivated I enjoy the game a lot more. I’ve been working seriously on my fitness and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”
The motivation and enjoyment shows in Chisora's in-ring demeanor and public appearances. The surly and mercurial nature has been replaced by a calmer, more mature and focused fighter that could be dangerous to the top heavyweights in the world.
Chisora is only 30 years old. In the heavyweight division, that's far from too old to contend.
The lineal champion Wladimir Klitschko is 37 and old rival Haye is 33.
Johnson is not a household name. In order for Chisora to really make a statement with this performance, he needs to do something big. A knockout win would obviously do the trick. Stopping Johnson is far easier said than done, though.
The 34-year-old has never been knocked out in 34 professional fights. He's gone the distance with Fury, Tor Hamer, Vitali Klitschko and most recently Christian Hammer. Johnson wears his sturdiness in the ring like a badge of honor. Per Metro, Johnson said this to reporters at a pre-fight press conference:
I’ve been stopped once in my life and that was by my momma and ever since then nobody’s put me down. My momma whopped my behind since I was seven years old. I got hit by lefts, rights, uppercuts, sticks, board, cat, dog, strap, bat, everything you name it but I’m still here.
Becoming the first man to stop Johnson is probably the best thing that could come out of Saturday's fight for Chisora. If he can do it, he'll continue to climb the ladder in the heavyweight rankings and in the consciousness of the boxing community.
He'll also likely get the much-anticipated rematch with Fury. From there, the sky is the limit for him in a heavyweight division that could be up for grabs when Wladimir calls it quits.
It's time for Chisora to seize the moment.
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