Sometimes, even among the giants of boxing’s heavyweight division, less can be more.
London based boxer Dereck Chisora has certainly reaped the benefits of shifting some surplus timber this year. The streamline version of ‘Del Boy’ is presently in the richest vein of form of his 22 fight, seven year pro career.
Having steamrolled unbeaten Yank Malik Scott in July (RSC6) and bludgeoned Germany’s Edmund Gerber to claim the European title in September (RSC5), the 29 year old shall be seeking to showcase his considerable wares to the boxing world on Saturday evening when he makes his maiden defence against tough Czech Ondrej Pala at the Copper Box Arena, east London.
Writer Glynn Evans recently caught up with Del Boy’s coach and mentor Don Charles to discuss Chisora’s evolution, both as a person and as a prizefighter.
Q: In what ways specifically has Dereck matured as an individual in the 16 months since his knockout loss to David Haye in July 2012?
DC: Dereck has grown up in all ways but, as you say, he’s a bit older so it’s a natural process. He’s learned from his previous experiences both good and bad, as we all do.
As an individual, I’ve noticed that he’s become more responsible and more courteous. He’s also become more patient.
Inside my gym, Dereck has always trained very, very hard. Application was never a problem. However, recently he’s started to eat like a professional athlete. We’ve always worked with nutritionists but, previously Dereck was a little bit irresponsible.
Because he was a heavyweight and wasn’t required to make weight, ‘Del Boy’ felt his weight management wasn’t that important. He’d be cheating. Now he knows that if he weighs less, his performances will be more effective.
Q: And in what ways has he matured as a fighter since losing to ‘The Hayemaker’?
DC: Every fighter improves and develops with the more experience and quality coaching they receive, and Dereck is no different.
I don’t like to keep labouring the fact but Dereck didn’t box as a school kid and therefore didn’t acquire a lot of the basic fundamentals that other young boxers have instilled into them.
He didn’t lace a glove on until he was 19. Think about a child’s education. If they miss out infant school, junior school, high school and sixth form, it takes them a while to acclimatize to university. Dereck is now approaching a stage where he is ready to graduate.
He’s been constantly practicing now for the past eight years and those fundamentals are slowly becoming fused into the more advanced techniques that we’ve had to teach Dereck for him to be competitive at top championship level. Consequently, he’s a more complete all round boxer-fighter. He no longer has to deliberate about techniques to activate them. They flow naturally.
On top of that, his recent weight reduction allows him to move quicker and more efficiently. The fact that he is now the reigning European champion has naturally had a very positive effect on his confidence. He’s certainly matured as a student. Right now, Dereck is in a very good place mentally.
Q: How has preparation gone for Saturday’s fight? What do you know about challenger Ondrej Pala?
DC: Preparation has been good. With each fight, Dereck acquires more experience as a fighter and I acquire more knowledge and experience as a coach. Collectively, we’re a more accomplished outfit.
We’ve had the benefit of preparing at the very highest level in the past, when Dereck fought Vitali Klitschko for the WBC world heavyweight title. Though that was not a success, the experience we derived has proved priceless. We now know what is required to get there.
Regarding Saturday, thank God for the age of ‘You Tube’ and the internet. From that, we’ve been able to ascertain Pala’s record and view a couple of his fights which is all that is required to identify his strengths and weaknesses.
I don’t want to discuss his weaknesses. We’ll hopefully reveal those inside the ring on Saturday night. As regards Pala’s strengths, he’s got good hands and a nice flow about his work. He also seems to have a good boxing brain.
I can assure you that Dereck will not be under prepared. In heavyweight championship boxing, every fighter is a threat and we take every opponent very seriously. Trust me, Dereck has trained as hard for Ondrej Pala as he did for Vitali Klitschko. In boxing, complacency is a killer disease.
Q: What would constitute a good day at the office for Chisora on Saturday?
To execute the game plan we have devised and secure a win by whatever shape or form we can. I can’t disclose too much more without giving away our intentions.
Q: Earlier this month, promoter Frank Warren tendered the winning purse bid for the mandatory British heavyweight title fight between Dereck and reigning champion David Price. As his trainer and mentor, is that a fight that you’d like for Dereck sooner rather than later?
David Price’s name keeps cropping up. Stylistically, I think it would be an excellent fight for Dereck and I’d be very confident of victory. Dereck has usually been at his most effective against the very tall opponents.
But I’m not a promoter. That’s Frank Warren’s department. If Frank deems that it is necessary for Dereck to fight David Price to help us get to a world title then that’s what we will do. Frank has huge experience in this field and I trust his judgement implicitly.
Q: Finally, where would you like to see Dereck by this time next year?
DC: I strongly believe that, by Christmas 2014, Dereck won’t only have won a world title, he’ll have successfully defended it at least once!