2016 Round of the Year – Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora locked horns in Manchester on Dec. 10. Their 12-round go was part of a mammoth 10-bout show promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. The main event, an IBF heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Eric Molina, was a dud, a stroll in the park for defending champion Joshua who dismissed his milquetoast American opponent in the third stanza. Whyte vs. Chisora saved the show. It was bombs away as the two big Londoners, one born in Jamaica (Whyte), the other in Zimbabwe, traded haymakers from start to finish.
The contest had a nasty preamble that culminated with Chisora throwing a table at Whyte at the final press conference, an action that sparked scuffles between representatives of both camps. For this indiscretion, Chisora was fined $25,000 by the British Boxing Board of Control which briefly considered cancelling the match.
Boorish behavior is commonplace in boxing — cynics would say it drives the sport – but this was over the top. Chisora would be roundly booed by the overflow crowd of 21,000 when he entered the ring, but they stood up and applauded him when he left. He won them over with his bravery.
A draw would have been a fitting conclusion to this see-saw donnybrook, but Dillian Whyte – younger by four years and somewhat better conditioned — emerged the victor, winning a split decision by scores of 115-113, 115-114, 114-115. There were scattered boos when the decision was announced, but no loud dissent. The victory boosted Whyte’s record to 20-1. Chisora declined to 26-7.
The fifth round of this high-grade brawl was the best. Twice Chisora landed thundering left hooks that would have felled a lesser man. He followed up the second with a chopping right hand that had Whyte in big trouble. But Whyte came back with combinations that dramatically shifted the momentum. The crowd was on its feet, cheering wildly.
“Cue the rematch” was a common thread in many post-fight stories. However, there is a snag. In addition to slapping Chisora with a fine for his pre-fight antics, the BBBofC slapped him with a two-year suspension, effective Dec. 11. It’s a fair guess that it will be shortened. Chisora and Whyte touched gloves before the final round and embraced like long-lost friends after the final bell. After all the pre-fight acrimony, the thrilling battle ended in a heart-warming display of good sportsmanship.
The bout was packaged as a title eliminator with the winner emerging as the mandatory opponent for WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. That bout won’t happen anytime soon as Wilder subsequently chose a soft opponent, Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk, for his next title defense, scheduled for Feb. 25 at Birmingham, Ala. However, it’s a fair guess that Wilder vs. Whyte will transpire before the year 2017 wends its course, and that contest shapes up as a very good scrap. Let’s hope that at any point in time, these talked about matches come close to the intestinal fortitude displayed by Whyte and Chisroa when they peaked in Round 5.
The Sweet Science salutes Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora, the competitors in the 2016 TSS Boxing Round of the Year.
2016 Round of the Year / Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.