This coming February 18th, WBC heavyweight title holder Vitali Klitschko 43-2 (40) will make the eighth defense of his title, a title he won from Samuel Peter back in 2008, after a nearly four year retirement. Klitschko's opponent is the relatively green UK based Dereck Chisora 15-2 (9). In 17 bouts Chisora, 28, has never been stopped or been in trouble. In fact at times he was even in command against the two fighters who beat him by decision, Tyson Fury and Robert Helenius. Chisora's problem in both bouts seems to be that he lost focus down the stretch, which obviously doesn't bode well for him heading into his title clash with the 40 year old Klitschko. Having pointed out Chisora's weaknesses, he deserves credit for taking on two undefeated prospects who also have title aspirations.
Therefore he shouldn't be automatically sold short because he's not undefeated. Actually there are some things to like about Chisora the fighter, other than him just being a fighter who appears to be a rough guy with a good chin. From a style vantage point, the 6 foot 1 1/2 inch Chisora is an attacker who looks to apply pressure and carry the fight to his opponent. What separates him from other swarming like attackers is he looks to jab his way in, which is fairly unique for a pressure fighter. He also mixes his shots up and has good punch placement. He doesn't apply bell-to-bell pressure and fights more in spurts, and it's between the spurts as he's trying to get re-set where he'll be vulnerable to Vitali's counters. If Vitali manages to disrupt his aggression he'll be methodically taken apart and probably stopped. His reach is short (74 inches) for a fighter over six feet tall. Joe Frazier, who was 5' 11" had a 73 inch reach. The problem for Chisora is, he's nowhere near as busy as Frazier was and an even bigger concern for him in this fight is his lack of power in his finishing hooks and crosses. In other words it looks as though he's not going to be able to force Vitali to do anything he doesn't want to. Granted, Vitali hasn't faced many attackers during his career other than Corrie Sanders and Cris Arreola, but he showed improvement in between Sanders and Arreola. When he fought Sanders in 2004 he backed straight up and got caught at the end of Sanders' lefts and rights as he was forced to the ropes. Sanders actually shook Vitali a few times while he was on the attack and forcing the fight. However, Sanders ran out of steam and once he slowed up Klitschko pot-shotted him on the way in and eventually stopped him. When he fought Arreola five years later, Vitali handled Arreola's aggression better. Part of the reason for that was Cris didn't go at him as hard and fast as Sanders did and Klitschko pivoted more and kept Arreola turning as he was eating Vitali's jab trying to close the distance and get inside. Of the two Chisora much more resembles Arreola than he does Sanders when it comes to activity and aggression. Recently Chisora said something that makes you think he's at least going to try and take the fight to Klitschko and force him to open up and fight more-so than box and pick his shots.
“I’m in tip-top shape, the best I’ve been in for my entire career and I’m going to smash Mr. Vitali Klitschko to bits. People are saying that Klitschko is the hardest fight of my career, but this is going to be the hardest fight of his career. I’m going to war with him, he won’t get to use that big height and reach against me with the way I’m going to fight him and I’ve got the eighth round in my head that I’m going to stop him in." Chisora's words don't leave much to the imagination, do they? He obviously knows that he can't out-jab Vitali and trying to do it would be suicide in this fight. Therefore he must make Klitschko uncomfortable during the fight and force him to fight from a weakness or supposed vulnerability on the inside. That sounds great in theory, but how many times have we seen another fighter force Vitali Klitschko into doing what he didn't want to? If my memory serves me correctly those instances have been few and far between.
So let's go with what we know. Chisora will try and push the fight. And like most fighters, Vitali doesn't like to be pressured. He likes his opponents to move to him, but coming forward isn't effective pressure. Fighters who just come forward Vitali usually chops up with his heavy jabs and then opens them up with his right uppercuts and unconventional crosses. Those weapons can be nullified by un-relenting pressure, something that Chisora hasn't shown a tendency towards doing from bell-to-bell. If Chisora can somehow keep Vitali on his heels - much easier said than done, we could see an entertaining bout. Does Dereck Chisora have the tools to beat Vitali Klitschko? Perhaps. The problem for him is they don't appear to be evolved enough and his lack of fight altering power will probably be the difference.
"Everyone that has fought the Klitschko brothers have been scared, this is one cat that isn’t scared of him or anyone and I’ll throw him off of that throne he’s been sitting on for the last few years," Chisora said. At this stage of the game it would be a welcome change if Chisora showed up and went at Vitali from the onset and was more concerned with winning than going the distance or getting stopped. If he got stopped in the seventh round but gave Klitschko a good scare and made him work and fight hard he wouldn't be an embarrassment and perhaps would be a better fighter down the road as a result.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV