Dereck Chisora makes Vitali Klitschko fight to retain crown

Boxing Gloves

Even the declaration of David Haye that he is finally willing to fight Vitali Klitschko could not steal the thunder of Dereck Chisora's brave losing effort over 12 don't blink round rounds in front of 13,000 of the champion's adoring German fans.

The judges gave it to Klitschko 118-110, 118-110, 119-111 in the eighth defence of the title and that was about right.

The evening ended in chaos and shame when Chisora and Haye, as well as their handlers, engaged in an ugly brawl that left Haye's trainer Adam Booth with blood running from a wound in his head. Chisora further disgraced himself when he claimed that Haye has "glassed him"and then made serious threats against him.

Earlier, the loser had been as hard on himself as he sometimes is on those who put faith in him when he said: "I was not proud of my performance and think I let my fans down, but he did nothing that surprised me, nor did he hurt me."

I gave the challenger three rounds and a share of two others but numbers could not tell the story of his heads-down grit-and-hook attacks, nor of his occasional success. His promoter, Frank Warren, immediately demanded a rematch — or a fight with Vitali's brother Wladimir.

If all the parties are roughly in the same negotiating zone, a fight against the younger brother might make sense, if only because there is virtually nobody else of ticket-selling pedigree for either of these fine champions left to fight.

At least he did better against Vitali than Haye did against Wladimir last July. Haye, who has been playing cat and mouse with the Klitschkos, later dropped a minor bombshell when he said: "I am ready to fight Vitali"

Ultimately, Chisora fought about as well as he is capable – whatever his self-critique –which was a good way short of what was needed to move the mountain in front of him. Klitschko? He did again what he has done 43 times in 45 previous fights: won with all the mechanical efficiency of a fighter comfortable with his method. Having endured two cancellations against Wladimir, Chisora was kept waiting a further quarter of an hour last night when the Klitschko camp objected to his handlers wrapping his hands before they had arrived at his dressing room. A shouting match ensued and the fighters finally reached the ring at 11.20pm local time.

Chisora's trainer, Don Charles, then had to watch his man like a nightclub bouncer. Chisora applauded the champion when Michael Buffer went into his introduction but when the fighters came together in the centre of the ring, Chisora spat a mouthful of water in the face of Wladimir, who was with his brother's entourage. The younger Klitschko brother did not react.

When the boxing got going, Chisora made Klitschko – both taller and longer in the reach by six inches – miss with his left hook and right cross, and landed a few of his own roundhouse rights; he might even have won an interesting first round. In his eight fights since coming out of a four-year retirement in 2008, Klitschko has lost precisely four rounds, so Chisora was at least giving him a worthwhile argument. Could he sustain it? At 17st 3lb he was not only just a couple of pounds lighter than his opponent, but a mere pound heavier than his own lightest weight as a professional. So, he was in considerably better shape than when he lost to Tyson Fury over 12 rounds last July.

But the indiscipline he showed outside the ring in slapping Klitschko at the weigh-in surfaced in the ring as his boxing grew ragged and he began running into those long, chopping right hands.

As has been noted throughout his 16 years in boxing, Klitschko does nothing spectacularly and everything efficiently. He also hits as hard as any heavyweight since Mike Tyson – his 88.89 per cent knockout rate is the best in the history of his division – and the uppercut he drove into Chisora's chin in round three would have floored less willing opponents.

The challenger, his mouth swelling, had a better fourth; in the fifth he gloved up around his ears and waded into hook-throwing range and, while he is no Joe Frazier, he got through a few times. The first signs of vulnerability, such as they were, were painted in red around Klitschko's mouth.

For most of his career, Klitschko has been allowed to fight within himself. Not now. Not at 40 on creaking legs. He took the seventh but under sustained pressure, and buckled Chisora's legs with a pin-point right cross. A fight many had predicted would end early in the Ukrainian's favour was a genuine contest with five rounds left, and Chisora, able to absorb the heavy artillery, rattled the retreating ring mechanic in front of him, hooking around his drooping guard. But the eighth, Chisora's predicted finishing round, came and went.

Klitschko found some bounce in his legs as they headed for the finish line and he rocked the Londoner with several fight-finishers. But, while some have criticised his manners, nobody has ever doubted Chisora's heart.

He was reduced to wild swings now, as his tormentor unloaded with full force for the first time, seeking a stoppage win to go with 40 before. Del Boy, however, was not for folding. He would take his licks as long as he could remember what town he was in. And that went all the way to the end of a fight worthy of a world title. Indeed, if he fought more of the earlier rounds as he did the desperate 12th, which he took with smashing wide hooks. he would have got a lot closer on the scorecard. He gave Klitschko his toughest night since he lost to Lennox Lewis in 2003 and the champion's cornermen even came across to congratulate him on his performance. So did Klitschko – and the loser took it well.

British athletes have left their mark on Munich: the Olympic 400msilver medallist, Lillian Board, who died here at 22 from bowel cancer in 1970, has a pathway to the stadium named after her, and Bradford's Richard Dunne is remembered too — if only for his inept loss to Muhammad Ali in this hall in 1976.

The likelihood of the good burghers naming a footpath after Dereck Chisora are slim, but Munich will not soon forget his visit.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Kevin Mitchell in Munich, for The Observer on Sunday 19th February 2012 00.26 Europe/London

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