The decade so far for Dereck Chisora has been pretty easy to define on a year-to-year basis:
One thing remains constant, though. Whether you like him or hate him, whether his year is a good or a bad one, ‘Del Boy’ is one of a very select few British boxers who is always worth watching when he steps into the ring.
And if his and promoter Frank Warren’s admittedly-ambitious plans for 2014 come anywhere close to fruition, Chisora will arrive at the halfway point of the ‘10s at the completion of a fascinating full circle.
Indeed, if all goes to plan (and remember that this is professional boxing, but we can only hope it does), Chisora will battle Tyson Fury in a huge domestic bout at a football stadium in the summer before aiming to use the leverage from such a win to lure Wladimir Klitschko out to Africa for a ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ anniversary clash.
Muhammad Ali defeated George Foreman in one of the all-time great heavyweight fights on October 30, 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire (the nation now known as DR Congo). A world title fight marking such an occasion would have tremendous global appeal.
How likely is all that? Well, it needs a tremendous run of events (and two big Chisora victories) to get to the Congo. But in an often-insipid sport of anti-climax and disappointment, us punters could certainly do with such a well-known boxer as Dereck having a year as big as that.
After beginning the task of rebuilding his tattered reputation in the wake of the Vitali Klitschko and David Haye controversies – both of which ended in humbling defeats – with an unbeaten, back-to-basics 2013, the London heavyweight returns to action on February 15 at the Olympic Copper Box against unbeaten Ukrainian Andriy Rudenko (24-0).
The carrot dangling in front of European champion Chisora in this one is the announcement that British rival Fury and promoter Mick Hennessy will work in conjuncture with Warren’s BoxNation channel for the foreseeable future, and a Chisora-Fury rematch will be lined up in the summer if all goes to plan.
Fury defeated a disappointing, unfit Chisora in 2011 as he emerged on the heavyweight scene, but since then has frustrated many boxing fans by publicly insulting every potential opponent people want to see him take on, only to fight the likes of Kevin Johnson and Steve Cunningham instead.
(Granted, his abandoned showdown with the likely-retired Haye wasn’t his fault, but still…)
Fury will shake off the Haye debacle with a return to the ring on Chisora’s Copper Box undercard next month. And if both men are victorious, as expected, the touch paper will be lit on Chisora’s chance to gain redemption for perhaps the darkest in-ring moment of his career.
Not only that, but it would give the domestic audience the heavyweight superfight it got from Haye and Chisora in 2012, and should have had from Haye and Fury in 2013.
And in the current market, where only Carl Froch can command the sort of attention on these shores which warrants such big marquee events, it would be a shot in the arm for those of us losing interest because of a lack of big, eyebrow-raising collisions such as Haye-Chisora and Froch v George Groves.
Warren said of the plans at a recent press conference: “The plan is for both of them to come through their fights on February 15, then the pair will meet in a massive rematch in June.
“Because it's the biggest fight out there for them, and it's a fight that the public want to see, the only place for it to happen would be a football stadium - a real summer extravaganza between the big men of British boxing before the World Cup.”
Assuming he does take his training seriously this time, a fit and focused Chisora has a strong chance of gaining revenge against a man as yet untested on the world level (and no, I’m not going to consider beating bums who once had a world title shot such as ‘Kingpin’ Johnson as ‘world level’).
If that happens, the door is open for his ambitious plan for a second crack at a Klitschko. And though few will fancy Dereck to actually beat Wlad, if he is somehow able to at least get the shot – especially if he can indeed wangle an Ali-Foreman 40th anniversary spectacle – his 2014 would nonetheless be the best of his career, and help finally erase those regret-tinted memories of 2012.
“I want to fight Wladimir Klitschko this year, but I don’t want him coming to us, dictating terms,” Chisora told the Telegraph’s Gareth Davies as he outlined how he could implement such a plan.
“We have to be able to force the issue with him by becoming mandatory challenger, so that the fight can go to purse bids.
“I want to take the fight to Africa, to Zaire. Frank knows I want that, and if we could take the fight to Africa it would be the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ all over again.
“They will be chanting ‘Delboy, Bomaye’ as they did for Muhammad Ali.”
Whether his idea or one that was whispered into his ear before his unsuccessful challenge of Vitali in Germany, Chisora made the decision two years ago that playing the ultimate ‘villain’ for the fight would enhance his name value and his chances.
It did boost the former, albeit to the point that slapping his opponent, spitting water at brother Wladimir and brawling with Haye afterwards made him a permanent villain around the world.
A year of returning to his roots, taking on other large sluggers and out-bombing them in exciting, brass-tacks battles has begun the rehabilitation process around the sobering loss of his dear ally Dean Powell.
As a viewer and ringside reporter, it has been refreshing watching ‘Del Boy’ do what he does best, free of his prior mistakes and poor decisions. It is what we should all want, really, to be able to lose ourselves in an evening’s entertainment and enjoy it at face value.
After rebuilding in 2013, Chisora at the very least has earned the right to dream of such goals as football stadiums and Congo fights. If they come true, hopefully he conducts himself better this time around and helps provide a boxing year to remember.
Liam Happe | Follow on Twitter