Dereck Chisora vs. Kevin Johnson: 6 Things We Learned
Britain's top heavyweights—Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury—returned to the ring last night in London and won fairly predictable wins.
As reported by the BBC, Chisora beat former world title challenger and Fury victim Kevin Johnson by a wide points decision, having scored a knockdown in the fifth round.
Fury's fight was far more entertaining, with the Manchester fighter happy for the action to descend into an out-and-out tear-up.
Joey Abell threw some vicious headbutts and Fury a landed a low blow after a break, bad fouls that went unpunished. Fury ate a few big shots—especially left hands from the southpaw—but prevailed in a firefight with his superior speed and power. After four knockdowns, the referee stopped Abell on his feet in Round 4.
Here are six things we learned from last night's action.
1. Chisora's Stamina Has Not Improved
Dereck Chisora has always had good stamina for a heavyweight. Going back to 2010 and his best win to that date, he outlasted Sam Sexton to stop him in nine having set a good pace. For that fight Chisora weighed in at 244 pounds.
Then against Tyson Fury, Chisora weighed in at a generously proportioned 261 pounds, which clearly slowed him down and worsened his stamina. In his most recent defeat to David Haye in 2010, Chisora was 247 pounds and still looked like he was carrying some excess baggage.
There was a real change in the last two fights before Johnson, Chisora weighing in around 235 against Ondrej Pala and Edmund Gerber. In both those fights Chisora was unrelentingly active, and that took Pala and Gerber far out of their comfort zones: Gerber getting stopped in five, Pala in three.
It looked like Chisora had hit on a new strategy based on being leaner and meaner—able to keep up such intense pressure on opponents that they would simply wilt.
Kevin Johnson had never been stopped in four defeats and was to some extent the perfect test for Chisora's game plan. It looked to be working, too, when Chisora decked the American in Round 5.
But after that Chisora wasn't able to continue the pressure for 12 rounds and eventually looked exhausted in the last three, even allowing the low-output Johnson to nick a round or two late on.
Sadly for the Finchley fighter his better physical condition has not translated into a significant improvement in stamina down the stretch and he will not be able to rely on his good stamina to win fights at the highest level. Indeed, against top opposition, he may even need to consciously pace himself better.
2. Chisora Wants Alexander Povetkin
Before the card, all the talk was of this being a warm-up for a rematch between Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury—probably in the summer, hopefully as a world title eliminator.
Interviewed at ringside after the fight by BoxNation, Chisora pulled a surprise by mentioning another top heavyweight. "I want to fight Alexander Povetkin in Moscow," Chisora said, "then in the summer me and Tyson should get it on."
Earlier in the night, Fury had already suggested the plan was for another warm-up in April and Chisora after that. That means Chisora would have space in his schedule to fight Povetkin before Fury.
Povetkin has some good wins on his record: Eddie Chambers in 2008, Ruslan Chagaev in 2011 and a majority decision over Marco Huck in 2012. However, he was easily beaten by Wladimir Klitschko last year and many believe he stagnated fighting easy opposition and, now aged 34, has not reached his potential.
Even so, Povetkin is still a top-10 heavyweight based on the computerized ratings at BoxRec and would be Chisora's sternest test since Haye. Chisora would be the favourite if it happened in the U.K., but the pendulum might swing in Povetkin's favour if the fight was held in Russia.
Although Chisora might earn good money to fight Povetkin in Russia, a loss there would surely derail the big payday that a Fury rematch would offer—so would it be worth the risk? Chisora seemed to think so last night, but promoter Frank Warren may not necessarily agree. Watch this space.
Chisora Has One over Vitali Klitschko
Kevin Johnson is one of the wiliest heavyweights around with an excellent defence based on his long jab, good head movement and a surprisingly good shoulder roll for such a big man.
His defeats have come more because he doesn't throw enough punches than because he gets hit. After 12 rounds against Vitali Klitschko, Johnson may have lost virtually every round, but on a purely visual basis, he probably looked the fresher come the final bell.
Chisora has received some criticism for the lack of entertainment value in last night's fight. Scott Christ at Bad Left Hook called it a "snoozer," whilst Tyson Fury, interviewed during the fight by BoxNation, said, "It's a boring fight."
Such criticism is a little unfair on Chisora, who worked hard to push the fight, and because Johnson's fights with Klitschko and Fury were equally tedious.
After all, Chisora managed to do something nobody—not even Vitali himself—had done before by sending the veteran crashing to the canvas in Round 5 when a big, wide right hand connected. It only caught Johnson on the top of the head, and had it connected more to the side of his skull, it might even have ended the fight.
4. Kevin Johnson Remains an Enigma
Post-fight BoxNation commentator Steve Bunce aired his frustration in watching Kevin Johnson box, sentiments he followed up on Twitter:
@wanny85 In the last five years, correct. 12 with Vitali, 12 with Fury, 12 with Del and never tried...what if?— Steve Bunce (@bigdaddybunce) February 16, 2014
Nearly everyone sees in Johnson a well-schooled fighter with a huge natural reach and a good chin who should be competitive right at the top of the heavyweight division but who simply doesn't throw enough punches.
It was understandable to some extent against Tyson Fury and Vitali Klitschko—two giants with even longer reaches and some serious power—but utterly mystifying against the mediocre Christian Hammer last time and then the smaller, less dangerous Chisora.
At age 34, it is unlikely that Johnson will get another real opportunity to turn his career around, not least because even when he loses to top prospects, he makes them look bad with his clever defence—and makes a poor show of it with his low output.
The enigma is what goes on inside Johnson's head during a fight like Saturday's. Knowing he was way down on the cards and that a win would be huge for his career, he showed very little desire to turn it around and push for a stoppage.
5. Tyson Fury's Conditioning Raises a Question
When Dereck Chisora fought Tyson Fury in 2011, it was Chisora's poor conditioning which raised eyebrows, and it probably cost him the fight. Chisora, whose ideal weight is no higher than 235 pounds, weighed in at 261 pounds, nearly two stone too heavy.
Now a rematch is expected, and it is Fury's weight which is under question. His ideal weight is no higher than 250 pounds. According to trainer Peter Fury, speaking to iFL TV, he entered camp at nearly 22 stone (around 300 pounds) and weighed in at 274 pounds fully clothed.
In the fight he was visibly overweight and was breathing heavily even before the bout ended in Round 4.
It seems that Fury let himself go after the disappointment of missing out on the David Haye fight, and hopefully he is now back in the gym, redisciplined—and on the road to better fitness.
However, this will be something to watch because whilst Fury could get away with a very open style and a lack of top fitness against a club fighter like Joey Abell, he would get punished for it by Chisora or any other top heavyweight.
6. The Last Tube Is More Enticing Than Kevin Johnson
There have been empty seats at all of Frank Warren's shows at the Copperbox, but there seemed to be a better crowd there last night for the third event at the new arena.
As with previous Warren shows there were some strange decisions in terms of timings, and the final bell of Chisora-Johnson rang at past midnight.
That meant that throughout the supposed main event, there was the sight of fans streaming out of the arena, presumably looking to catch the last tube home.
There were a lot of friends turned fans there for prospects Bradley Skeete, Georgie Kean and Frank Buglioni and, having seen their men, the disappointing main event wasn't enough to keep them in their seats to then risk the vagaries of late-night travel.
Quite why the card has to run to such an inconvenient time is anybody's guess. The downside is obvious, and the upside is opaque. It certainly doesn't look good on TV when fans are actively walking away from a main-event fight and, in Chisora, a fighter who should be perceived as a box-office draw.
— steven mcewen (@steven_mcewen) February 16, 2014