TORONTO (February 11, 2014) - Reigning European heavyweight king Dereck Chisora knows that if he can reproduce the form and desire that he showed last year, he has a chance of closing out 2014 as the world heavyweight champion.
Now in the best shape of his career, the 30-year-old enigma from Finchley racked-up four successive stoppage wins in 2013, bagging European, plus WBA and WBO International titles en route. Already ranked highly by all four major sanctioning bodies, Chisora will be seeking to edge yet closer to the Holy Grail when he puts the latter two belts at risk against Atlanta's seasoned former WBC World title challenger Kevin 'Kingpin' Johnson at The Copper Box Arena in London this Saturday (February 15).
Canadian fans may watch all the action on Fight Network, starting at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT), while Americans can view on both cable and satellite pay-per-view for a suggested retail price of $24.95 via DIRECTV, iN Demand, DISH, Avail-TVN. Integrated Sports Media is distributing this major British boxing event in the United States on behalf of Fight Network. It may also be viewed in the United States on GFL.TV.
Victory will clear the first hurdles towards a mooted WBO final eliminator against former conqueror Tyson Fury in an outdoor blockbuster this summer. Whilst 'Del Boy' was smouldering in the final few days of camp, boxing writer Glynn Evans touched base with his articulate and obliging trainer Don Charles to reflect on Chisora's recent rich form and pontificate about his future.
Last time out against The Czech Republic's Ondrej Pala, 'Del Boy' finished impressively but it was far from a flawless performance. As against Edmund Gerber in the fight previous, Dereck's defence - usually a strength - was down and he was tagged more than once with right hands. As his coach, how did you assess his performance? "Pretty much as you've just painted it. That wasn't the Dereck Chisora that I'd grown accustomed to in our training camp.
The guy (Pala) was able to penetrate and Dereck was hit. It's not only about winning but also about performance level and how Dereck is developing and I wasn't particularly happy. I'm always Dereck's worst critic.Though Dereck won ugly, he's still the current European heavyweight champion and we've been rectifying the problems in the gym." This Saturday Chisora was originally scheduled to defend his European title against the Ukrainian Andrij Rudenko. Surely, the clash with 'Kingpin' is more meaningful and, therefore, easier to motivate Dereck for? "Absolutely.
Only the diehard boxing community were aware of Rudenko whereas Mr 'Kingpin' Johnson's name is far more widespread. This is certainly a more marketable, more sellable fight and, as you imply, Dereck will rise more for it. That said, without undermining Kevin, I personally believe that Rudenko would have brought the greater threat. He's not learned how to lose yet. Johnson's already been at the very top and challenged Vitali Klitschko for the world title whereas this would've been Rudenko's FA Cup Final." What is your assessment of Johnson as a fighter and what gives you confidence that Dereck can take care of him? "'Kingpin' has a typical US style. He'll have done an awful lot of sparring in the US gyms, will have encountered every style and will know all the tricks. He and Dereck have two common opponents in Tyson Fury and Vitali Klitschko.
Obviously I've seen those fights. "It'll be a very interesting match but we know what we have to do for Dereck to be successful. Dereck knows exactly how to deal with Johnson's style. The key will be to stop 'Kingpin' from slowing the fight down to his tempo. Dereck can't afford to sit back and wait. Having been to the summit already, I'm not sure that Johnson still has the belly for a long,hard, grueling fight. He might take a rain check when Dereck turns the heat up!" So what would constitute a good night's work for Dereck Chisora when Saturday's fight is done and dusted? How important is it to Dereck to become the first fighter to stop Johnson? How important is it for him to outshine co-headline act Tyson Fury? "A good night will be a win, no matter what shape or form that might come in. In football, sometimes you have to win 1-0 and bag the three points.
On Saturday evening a win, any win, is absolutely paramount. "I'll be hoping that Dereck can stay focused and switched on throughout and execute all that we've practiced in the gym. "Winning by stoppage or outshining Tyson is relevant to us. Fighters deal with opponents in different ways. Vitali Klitschko is a more dangerous opponent than David Haye yet Dereck lasted 12 very hard rounds with Klitschko. David stopped Dereck. Such comparisons mean little." The recent retirement of Dereck's ex conqueror Vitali Klitschko has opened up the world heavyweight scene. How do you see it unfolding and which match ups for Dereck would particularly excite you? "The Klitschkos have been in a league of their own for some time now so Vitali's retirement allows a lot more fighters to contend and I envisage the titles swapping hands more regularly over the next 24 months.
We certainly intend being in position to collect. "Of those at the forefront, I particularly like (Bermane) Stiverne. I also expect Fury and (Deontay) Wilder to contend but probably not (Kubrat) Pulev. He's strong but robotic and, at elite level, you have to have skills. World championship heavyweight boxing is not a strong man competition. "I particularly covet the Wilder fight for Dereck.
The contrast in their styles would make for an exciting fight for the fans but I'm very confident that Dereck could be the man to expose him. Deontay has the legs of a sparrow. I don't believe he can do anything once he's pressed backwards and Dereck would force him onto the back foot." Presently everything is being geared for a rematch between Tyson and Dereck at a soccer stadium this summer. Why did their first fight in July 2011 go so spectacularly wrong for Dereck? "Dereck was more than capable of defeating Tyson at that stage of their careers. However, there were a lot of personal factors why Dereck shouldn't even have been in a boxing gym at that stage of his life, let alone defending his British and Commonwealth titles against a prospect as talented as Tyson Fury. But we'll only reveal what those factors are after we've exacted our revenge because I hate making excuses.
Tyson landed in the best shape he could possibly be in and was the better man on the night. He deserves all credit for that. "Dereck should've pulled out, could've pulled out, but he showed himself a true champion and didn't resort to that option. He still lasted the full 12 rounds and has subsequently redeemed himself. Dereck is now in front of Tyson with every governing body." To what extent did the loss to Fury simmer with Dereck? How long did it take him to recover from it? How important is the need to exact revenge and re-establish himself as Britain's leading heavyweight? "Remember, that was Dereck's first professional loss so it hit him very hard. His unbeaten record, plus his British and Commonwealth titles, were surrendered in one night so of course it hurt badly. He was required to do a lot of soul searching and examine whether he still had the belly for boxing. But thankfully he has very good people around him; his mum, quality friends, myself and, in Frank Warren, a master class promoter.
All played their parts in analyzing where things went wrong, making the necessary changes, and rectifying the situation to aid Dereck's redemption." In what ways have both fighters subsequently developed? "Both have developed in all aspects; both are older, stronger physically and mentally, more mature, more experienced. We rate Tyson highly. He's a very good fighter but Dereck will be in a far, far better place mentally. The rematch will be very interesting.
Both will be very near the peak of their careers. "But Dereck will equalize in the summer and, following redemption, all will be revealed regarding the first fight. That should nicely set up a trilogy, a decider!" Fight Network presents Chisora v Johnson/Fury v Abell PPV Promo Fight Network presents Chisora v Johnson/Fury v Abell PPV Promo For additional information go online to www.fightnetwork.com or www.integratedsportsnet.com , or follow on Twitter @FightNet and @IntegratedPPV .
Monday, February 10, 2014 Bobby Hitz announced that following February 28th's "Fight Night at the Horseshoe," which will be featured on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights," Hitz Boxing will return to Elk Grove Village on Friday March 7, for "Horseshoe Presents: Hitz Boxing's Fight Night at the Belvedere" and then return to Hammond for another "Fight Night at the Horseshoe" in mid April. On Friday, January 31, Hitz kicked off its 2014 campaign with an exciting fight card at a jam packed Belvedere Events & Banquets.
"We came out of the gates this year with guns a blazing. We are staging four fights in four months and we added two dynamic boxers to our already stacked stable," said Hitz. "Our growing fan base, organizational capacity, talented roster of fighters, partners and growing list of sponsors puts us in a position to have a great year." Last week Hitz announced the signing St. Louis light heavyweight Ryan "The Irish Outlaw" Coyne (21-2, 9 KOs) as well as hot super middleweight prospect Donovan "Don Da Bomb" George (24-4-1, 21 KOs) of Chicago. The George deal was secured in partnership with Round 3 Productions. The Horseshoe Casino, Mercedes of Naperville, BL Autogroup, Title Boxing, Miller Brewing and Power Hour Nutrition sponsored the January card. "Our sponsorship inventory provides current and potential partners with excellent value at a competitive price," said Hitz. "Additionally, our VIP hospitality packages, ringside seating and customized group packages are great for corporate outings." Hitz has partnered with Arthur Pelullo of Banner Promotions in bringing ESPN2' "Friday Night Fights" to the Horseshoe later this month, and with Round 3 Productions' Frank "Muggs" Mugnolo in the signing of George.
"Working with a longtime friend like Artie on the upcoming Horseshoe bout is awesome, he is old school like me and values relationships," said Hitz. "Hitz Boxing has dominated the Chicago boxing scene since 1991 and our new relationship with Round 3 opens up some interesting and exciting opportunities." Tickets for the February 28 "Fight Night at the Horseshoe" card and the March 7, "Horseshoe Presents: Hitz Boxing's Fight Night at the Belvedere" are available at hitzboxing.com. PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Feb. 11th, 2014) -- The man who once put Roy Jones Jr. to sleep and earned a reputation as boxing's toughest "Road Warrior" will test his luck in another city far from his home in Jamaica. Glen Johnson, the former International Boxing Federation (IBF) and The Ring world light heavyweight champion, will headline Classic Entertainment & Sports' Feb. 21, 2014 card at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., when he faces veteran Jaime Velazquez of Pawtucket, R.I., in the 8-round main event of "Home Sweet Home." Velazquez (11-5-2, 6 KOs), 42, a former New England title contender in the mid- to late-1990s, will end a 15-year layoff in his long-awaited return to the ring Feb. 21st, and he'll do it against one of the most prolific light heavyweights of this generation. Johnson (53-18-2, 36 KOs), 45, has been actively fighting for the past 25 years, a late-bloomer who didn't turn pro until he was 20, but during that stretch he's fought 11 world-title bouts and enjoyed an impressive run as the IBF and The Ring title-holder, which included his shocking knockout win over Roy Jones Jr. in 2004.
Three months later, Johnson unified the light heavyweight title by beating Antonio Tarver and earned the Boxing Writer's Association of America's Fighter of the Year award. Tickets for "Home Sweet Home" are available for $40, $100 and $126 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com or by phone at 401-724-2253/2254. Nicknamed "The Road Warrior" for frequently fighting -- and winning -- in his opponents' hometowns, Johnson's resume also includes a knockout win over the hard-hitting Yusaf Mack of Philadelphia and an inclusion in the Super Six World Boxing Classic in which he dropped to 168 pounds to replace an injured Mikkel Kessler and knocked out Allan Green before losing a close majority decision to World Boxing Council (WBC) champ Carl Froch in the semifinals.
Like the loss to Froch, many of Johnson's setbacks have either been too close to call or have fallen under a cloud of controversy, including a disputed draw against Clinton Woods for the then-vacant IBF title in 2003 in Woods' backyard in the United Kingdom, which Johnson avenged later that year by beating Woods unanimously for the belt. He faced Woods a third time in 2006 in the same country for the same belt and lost a close split decision in which one judge awarded the fight to Johnson by two points. Following the trilogy with Woods, Johnson went on to beat former world champion Montell Griffin by 11th-round knockout and faced off twice against WBC title-holder Chad Dawson, losing both fights by narrow unanimous decisions.
Johnson also challenged for the IBF title a third time against Tavoris Cloud and took a shot at the IBF super middleweight belt against Lucian Bute, going the distance against both fighters. Johnson pushed Cloud to the brink for 12 rounds and lost a unanimous decision despite landing more punches than Cloud, according to the CompuBox numbers. In addition to knocking out 36 of his 73 opponents, a staggering 49 percent knockout rate, Johnson has only been stopped once in 25 years, proving his chin is as solid as his fists. The lone stoppage occurred in 1997 in the first of his 11 world-title belts against then-IBF middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins, the ageless wonder who, at 49, now holds the same light heavyweight title Johnson defended twice during the peak of his dominance in 2004.
Born in Jamaica, Johnson moved to southern Florida at the age of 15. Velazquez is best known for a series of memorable bouts on the New England circuit in the '90s, including a thriller against former world-title challenger Scott Pemberton and a six-round battle against Richard Grant, who later went on to face former super middleweight world champ Jeff Lacy. Velazquez also went the distance with former IBF contender Gabriel Hernandez and fought two draws against Holyoke, Mass., cruiserweight Darren Whitley.
"Home Sweet Home" also features the homecoming of Providence native Toka Kahn (9-0, 6 KOs), a highly-decorated amateur and now undefeated super featherweight prospect fighting under the promotional guidance of Bob Arum's Top Rank Boxing. Kahn will fight in his hometown for the first time since 2012 in a six-round bout. "The Vermont Bully" Kevin Cobbs (7-1, 2 KOs), now fighting out of Fall River, Mass., will end his year-long layoff in a four-round light heavyweight bout while Pawtucket, R.I., middleweight Thomas Falowo (10-2, 7 KOs) will return for the first time since his loss to Chris Chatman in July of 2012 in a separate six-round bout. The undercard also features the return of undefeated Providence middleweight K.J. Harrison-Lombardi (4-0-1), who will star in a four-round bout, and the Twin River debut of Louisiana cruiserweight Alvin Varmall (1-0, 1 KO), also fighting in a separate four-round bout. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?