By Mikko Salo: Pure stroke of business genius. That is what promoter Frank Warren pulled off last week. David Haye vs Dereck Chisora has everything. It gives us the biggest moneymaker of a fight that doesn`t have the names Mayweather, Pacquiao or Klitschko attached to it. It is a genuine grudge match, where the spectator can sense that there truly is a lot more at stake then the piles of pounds involved. There are also several other storylines that make the build-up to this blockbuster compelling and underline the business genius behind it.
The announcing of Haye vs Chisora couldn`t have been done at a more clever time. Right when the dust was settling after Mayweather vs Cotto and right before the boxing media and fans start to turn their attention to Pacquiao vs Bradley, Warren drops the bomb on us, gets the British Boxing Board of Control to go nuts and the fans interested in the heavyweight landscape.
The real timing gem comes with the date of the fight itself. Let me see, Haye vs Chisora is scheduled a week after… Klitschko vs Thompson II!! Talk about stealing someone`s thunder! No wonder the Klitschkos are fuming, I would be, too. After Pacquiao vs Bradley has taken place on 9th June, what might be the fight the boxing media and fans turn their attention to. Would it be Klitschko vs Thompson II or Haye vs Chisora? The answer is easy.
It is actually pretty amusing how Klitschko manager Bernd Boente has changed his mind about Haye vs Chisora. On 18th February, after Dereck Chisora had slapped Vitali Klitschko at the weigh-in, spat in the face of Wladimir Klitschko before the fight, lost by unanimous decision to Vitali and brawled with David Haye at the post-fight press conference, Klitschko manager Bernd Boente had this to say: “The brawl tonight calls for a box-off between Haye and Chisora, and the winner fights one of the Klitschkos. [That fight] would make a lot of money in the UK.”
For some strange reason, Boente sounded very different after hearing that Warren is staging Haye vs Chisora one week after Klitschko vs Thompson II. "They both lost to the Klitschkos. They are on the second level. We could not care less." I think Boente cares. A lot. And he is not happy.
2. BoxNation Gets Exposure as the Promoter
Frank Warren`s BoxNation TV channel is actually the official main promoter of Haye vs Chisora. Currently BoxNation can only be viewed in the UK and Ireland through Sky, Virgin and livesport.tv. Haye vs Chisora will be BoxNation`s biggest draw and the channel will most likely get a load of new subscribers just because of this fight. The fight might also give the channel enough exposure outside of UK that a launch of a worldwide online TV service could be a step closer.
3. The Economic Power of Controversy
Both David Haye and Dereck Chisora are very good fighters. Haye is a former Cruiserweight Champion and heavyweight beltholder. Chisora is a former British & Commonwealth titlist. At his best Haye was rated as high as the #2 heavyweight contender by The Ring.
But as of now, neither Haye nor Chisora don`t have great drawing power on their own. In their most recent fights, Haye lost in uninspiring fashion to Wladimir Klitschko, Chisora suffered a dubious decision loss to one-armed #5 contender Robert Helenius and a clear-cut decision loss to one-armed Vitali Klitschko. You could say that Haye`s and Chisora`s boxing careers have hit some rough spots lately. But all you need is one press conference brawl and suddenly the two fighters together became a megafight-in-waiting.
Haye and Chisora are both fighters who generate a lot of opinions. Whatever you think of them, one thing is certain. They are by far the most colorful characters in heavyweight boxing today. Nobody comes even close. The Klitschko Brothers are The Undisputed Heavyweight Champions, genuine all-time greats with enormous drawing power as they should be with their first-ballot hall of fame credentials. But when you want intrigue and authentic distaste between two opponents, real electricity in the air on fight night, nothing beats Haye vs Chisora in the heavyweights in this day and age. We are in for a wild ride before 14th July.
4. Sauerland Finds a Place for Povetkin vs Rahman
The German promotional powerhouse is searching for answers on how to get a bigger piece of the heavyweight revenue pie, devoured by the Klitschkos at the moment. Sauerland is currently in a pretty good position, controlling #2 contender Alexander Povetkin, fast-rising #4 contender Kubrat Pulev, who recently scored the biggest win of his career with a TKO 11 over Alexander Dimitrenko and #5 contender Robert Helenius, who is rehabbing a shoulder injury suffered before the December 2011 bout against Dereck Chisora.
Sauerland`s problem with Povetkin is that their premium heavyweight is utterly unmarketable and without any hint of charisma. In last December the Russian played second fiddle to Robert Helenius in Helsinki and in February he survived by a majority decision over cruiserweight #1 contender Marco Huck in a fight where Huck clearly was the main attraction for the German public.
Everybody knows that Povetkin has been ducking the Klitschkos for some years now, and he simply is not able to draw crowds as the main headliner himself. Now Povetkin is lined up in a laughable match-up to fight a washed-up former Lineal Heavyweight Champion Hasim Rahman. Although Rahman is the last American to hold the true Heavyweight Crown (11 years ago, that is), there aren`t many souls outside of Povetkin`s and Rahman`s immediate family who regard this fight in any way interesting.
Sauerland was having a major problem with Povetkin vs Rahman, because they had to figure out which undercard they would put the dreadful match-up. The problem doesn`t exist anymore. The undercard of Haye vs Chisora is perfect for the Germans. They pitch in, get exposure to their fighter(s) and get in on the action of disrupting the Klitschkos` businesses.
5. Alphabets Can`t Cash In
Fans hate professional boxing`s alphabet organizations. To the casual observer they are basically corrupt businesses that pretend to be sport federations.
Haye vs Chisora does have some kind of alphabet inter-whatever belt at stake, but absolutely nobody cares and that is the way it should be in boxing anyway. This fight is about two guys hating each others´ guts, wanting to settle matters in the ring and make boatloads of money doing it. If the reports of about 20,000 sold tickets are correct, the people have spoken. The fans love a good old grudge match. And on a side note they love the fact that next-to-nothing of the revenue goes to the alphabets.
British Boxing Board of Control is of course outraged because someone is staging a blockbuster fight event between two British boxers on UK soil without the BBBoC getting any piece of the pile of pounds. Therefore it is understandable from them to revert to threatening everyone involved with all kinds of banishments. I hope they know what they are doing because the fans´ wrath will be horrible if Haye vs Chisora somehow caves in because of the actions taken by BBBoC.
May 14, 2012