It was a mixed night for British boxing fans on Saturday night as one former champion proved his class inside the ring, while another was forced to reflect upon the state of his career after a devastating second loss in succession.
First we must start with the events at Upton Park. I was fortunate enough to be in the press area and I can tell you that the atmosphere was electric. The classical British summer of torrential rain could not put on a dampener on more than 30,000 fans who were extremely vocal in their support of David Haye, and equally vociferous in their distain for Dereck Chisora.
There may have been all sorts of controversy surrounding the making of the fight, but when it came time to put the two men in the ring it was clear that this was something special. Chisora barely took his eyes of Haye as the legendary Michael Buffer worked the crowd into a frenzy the way only he can. By the time he uttered the famous ‘LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE’ everyone had forgotten about the horrendous conditions - everyone but Haye.
The former WBA heavyweight champion had brought a pair of trainers to the ring as he was worried his boxing boots would lose grip while walking through the puddles down to the ring. It was an indication of how well prepared he was.
Haye started fast and, while Chisora attempted to claim the centre of the ring, the footwork of the lighter man was too much. He was in-and-out before ‘Del Boy’ could even think about a counter. The opening salvo produced plenty of action and all memories of Germany and Wladimir Klitschko were put to bed.
In the third round there was a glimmer of hope in a dull night sky for Chisora who finally managed to pin down the fleet footed Haye and land some meaningful punches. Unfortunately it was momentary success and by the fourth round it was more of the same for the Finchley fighter.
Haye was well in his groove and was beginning to forget the advice of trainer Adam Booth. His confidence was so high he became reckless but it seems this brash style was not misplaced. Chisora was finally caught with a perfect left hook. He was clearly hurt and it seemed an age before the follow up right finally put him on the canvas.
From ringside it was clear his head had not cleared by the time he was allowed to continue. He tried to grab hold of Haye who by now scented blood. There was another series of hooks with both hands and this time the referee choose to stop the contest.
But where does this leave both fighters. In the heat of the moment Haye was quick to declare he was wiling to fight on. However, unless Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko offers him an opportunity then there is little left to interest him. Let’s hope one of the Ukrainian duo fancies one more big payday.
For Chisora this felt like a no lose situation. Had he pulled off the shock then he would have been right back in line to fight for a world title. Even with this loss, it seems he will still be in the mix and a possible rematch with Robert Helenius remains very much on the cards. His in-ring performance against Vitali will also have turned heads in Europe and I would not rule out a future bout with WBA champion Alexander Povetkin.
Khan Crumbles Amidst Vegas Heat and Garcia’s Potent Left Hook
It was well over 40 degrees in Las Vegas for much of the build up to Amir Khan’s unification bout with Danny Garcia. The intense heat meant both men came in well under the 140lb limit but when it became time to step under the lights of the Mandalay Bay Casino on Saturday night it was not the heat that caused Khan to crumble.
For the first eight minutes of the contest it appeared Khan would outbox his American challenger. Wanting to make up for the performance that saw him lose his world titles to Lamont Peterson, he knew a fast start would be vital against a fighter who has a reputation as being sluggish in the opening rounds.
Speed appeared the key as Garcia was consistently beaten to the punch and could do nothing to counter. His face was already bruised and a cut appeared above his left eye after just six minutes of boxing. Yet one shot changed everything. Khan admitted he was careless as he marched forward and was caught with the sweetest of left-hooks.
Channeling James Toney at his best, Garcia found the perfect shot, and had it landed on Khan’s chin, then there is little doubt he would have been flat out for more than the ten count. However, no one can accuse Khan of lacking heart.
He attempted to shake off the cobwebs and marched forward. Unfortunately when his brain is scrambled his first thought is to engage. He walked forward and twice more was caught by the power of Garcia. He rose twice more but on the second occasion referee Kenny Bayliss looked into his eyes and brought an end to proceedings.
Now Khan must come back from the deepest and darkest of places. With Carl Froch suggesting that he should think about retirement, he must find the same drive and determination that saw his respond from a devastating loss to Breidis Prescott to becoming a world light-welterweight champion.
He must forget about names like Floyd Mayweather and Timothy Bradley. For now he must resurrect his shattered career. However, there are fights out there for him. Devon Alexander is one name that springs to mind, while he could attempt to still move to 147lbs and challenge a man he has already beaten in Paulie Malignaggi for his WBA title.
What we need to remember is Khan is still one of the most exciting fighters in the world to watch - both for his strengths and his weaknesses. His fallible chin and willingness to engage means he can be stopped at any second, but his skill with speed and movement is a joy to behold.
I hope that Khan can respond and I will leave the final words of advice to another British contender Tony Bellew who said: “If Amir stuck to long range boxing and used distance I'm telling you guys he'd be almost impossible to beat but he's involved! I said yesterday that if he trades with Garcia it'll be a disaster! It's worrying to see him employ them [sic] tactics it really is! Just box box box.”