- Photo by Getty Images / Alex Burstow / TPN
- David Haye retired from professional boxing injured and beaten in 2018 but now has a new challenge – taming one of boxing’s wildest men.
- Haye is managing Dereck Chisora, the sport’s version of the Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios.
- Chisora once tried to smooch an opponent at a weigh-in, spat water all over Wladimir Klitschko’s face, and was arrested by German police for a brawl with Haye in Munich.
- Somehow, the two of them have buried the hatchet and are achieving impressive wins together.
- These wins, Haye told Business Insider, could push Chisora into world championship title contention.
- Considering Chisora has lost almost 25% of his fights, he would become one of the most unlikely champions in boxing.
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At a 2012 post-fight press conference after Dereck Chisora had just absorbed 211 punches from a bigger and taller Vitali Klitschko in a gruelling world heavyweight title fight, the Londoner stepped toward David Haye, who was in the crowd at the time, and brawled with his rival in front of the world’s media.
Having already been defeated by Klitschko, the wild and chaotic post-event drama was Chisora’s second loss that night.
Footage showed Haye elbow Chisora then punch him to the floor with a glass bottle in his hand. Chairs were thrown. Haye’s trainer Adam Booth had blood streaking down his head.
It was a dark day for the sport. British boxing had given itself a black eye.
It would seem unlikely that Chisora would later team up with Haye, seeking his counsel regarding management and promotion, leaning on him for advice as he attempts to navigate a route back to a world title shot seven years on, aged 36.
But this is a relationship that benefits both men. Chisora gets tips from an athlete who looked the part during his own world championship days, a heavyweight who would not have been out of place on the front cover of men’s fitness magazines because of a ripped body seemingly chiseled from clay.
Haye, too, has been given purpose in a post-fight career – a reason to get out of bed with a smile on his face. Having left professional boxing in 2018, injured, with back-to-back losses to Tony Bellew – a fighter he would arguably have beaten in his prime – he now has a project that takes up his time.
Haye told Business Insider how the relationship began when we met in London earlier this week.
“He came to me and said, ‘David, could you help me, I’ve seen what you’ve done in your career,'” he said. “‘Can you assist and teach me what you’ve done to get the success you’ve had?’
“I’d never in a million years think that Dereck would ask me. Us fighters have egos, but he came to me. He must have put his ego to the side.”
Haye’s surprise was likely because of their history, one which involved that bottling in Munich. Chisora was arrested at the airport. Haye managed to leave the country. There was a months-long police investigation by authorities in Germany.
Later that year, Chisora and Haye came face-to-face as they announced a stadium fight in London to the British press, and perhaps would have warred once again had it not been for a metal fence that separated them. At the fight itself, Haye knocked Chisora out in style, posting a thumping fifth round victory at West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground at Upton Park, London.
It was this fight that put an end to any leftover hostility from 2012, according to Haye.
“We resolved that bottling incident in a boxing match at Upton Park,” he said.
“We had the scuffle, a face-to-face, all in front of the press but we had a fight after and whatever beef there was, the fight just killed it. I was victorious that night. And there was a respect afterwards.
“I knew how tough he was. I know how tough he is. And I know what a tough character he is. I knew he was going to do something special in the game. He hasn’t quite done that, yet. He’s won the British title, Commonwealth title, and the European. These are big titles and impressive accolades, but they’re not world titles.”
Haye’s job is to guide Chisora – someone he said was once “an arch rival and a nemesis” – back up the rankings so he can fight for his first world title since that dark day in 2012.
“Dereck Chisora can capture a version of the heavyweight championship,” Haye said. “It was always my goal to try to assist another fighter in fulfilling his potential, in winning the heavyweight championship. To use the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the years to assist another fighter, the negotiation and politics, eating, how many hours you’re sleeping, where you’re training and what training you’re doing.”
Still, even Haye admits it may seem unrealistic, as Chisora has nine losses in a 41-fight professional career. “But it’s a fun challenge, gets me up in the morning, and it still feels like I’m living my dream,” he said. “When some fighters retire, they slump into depression or go off the rails, but it feels like I’m as far away from that as possible, which is nice and hopefully long may it continue.”
Chisora is the Nick Kyrgios of world boxing
- Photo by GLYN KIRK / AFP
There are parallels to be made between the Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios, 24, and Chisora, 35.
This year alone, Kyrgios trolled “cringeworthy” Novak Djokovic and “salty” Rafael Nadal in a no-holds-barred podcast. At the Italian Open in the summer he threw a chair onto the court, packed his bag, and walked off in the middle of the match. Then, in July, he lost to Nadal after spending the night at the pub, then had an “awkward” moment with a female reporter who had been there, too.
There is a case to be made for Kyrgios wasting his talent, as he is by far the most gifted out of the new generation of male players aged 25 and under. He has won five matches against the top 10 ranked tennis players this year, losing thrice. He holds his own against the best in the world.
Nick has got everything he could possibly want but sometimes emotionally he lets it slip away from him, and that’s exactly the same thing as Dereck.
Chisora’s career up to the point Haye managed him appeared to be similar. He instigated a pre-fight riot when he tried to smooch his opponent at a weigh-in in 2010, he spat water over Wladimir Klitschko’s face before his fight against Wladimir’s brother Vitali in 2012, and, of course, he brawled with Haye after that event in Munich.
Earlier this month, he said he’d “murder” his opponent David Price in the ring just days after the death of the 27-year-old American boxer Patrick Day, who died because of injuries sustained in through boxing.
“They’re both a bit frantic at times … it’s a good comparison,” Haye said. “Nick has got everything he could possibly want but sometimes emotionally he lets it slip away from him, and that’s exactly the same thing as Dereck.
“Even though Kygrios does what he needs to do behind closed doors, it’s only in the tournaments that he seems to lose it a little bit. He’s beat everyone there is to beat, consistently doing it, and Dereck is similar … physically he can do it, he hasn’t put the work in behind the scenes in the past, but recently he has.”
Part of Haye’s job with Chisora is to ensure the heavyweight’s twilight years in the sport are as successful as they can be, and that he doesn’t waste his talent. “I’m trying to gradually open his eyes to what I’ve done,” he said.
For Haye, this has meant giving Chisora a routine. This includes the amount of sleep he gets, a chef who cooks him meals which meet nutritional requirements for fighting, and World Anti-Doping Agency-approved pre-workout shakes.
Haye even tweaked Chisora’s routine so that he stays in the Park Plaza around the corner from the Hayemaker gym, rather than waste time on a morning commute. “All he needs to worry about is putting the energy into training,” he said.
Chisora could challenge Oleksandr Usyk for the WBO title, Haye says
Haye envisages a fragmentation of the world heavyweight championship in the coming months.
Multi-belt champion Andy Ruiz Jr. defends the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles on December 7 against Anthony Joshua in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Haye believes Joshua will triumph, but that boxing politics will dictate that he will have to choose to honor a mandatory challenge from WBO contender Oleksandr Usyk or IBF contender Kubrat Pulev.
A fight against Pulev, Haye said, would be more marketable for Joshua, so the Briton could get stripped of the WBO belt, which could then be on the line for ranked fighters like Usyk and Chisora. Haye said he is going to the WBO convention in Tokyo so he can lobby for this to happen.
“It’s a fight Usyk’s people have spoken to [Matchroom Boxing promoter] Eddie [Hearn] about,” Haye said. “Dereck Chisora is willing to fight anybody and has the natural physical ability, the strength, and experience in the deep water at heavyweight which Usyk hasn’t.”
Haye is hopeful his man will get that shot, and win. “Dereck’s on-form, living the life he currently is,” he said.
Haye admitted he’s happy he never had to fight the current version of his fighter. If he did, he said he would have been asked harder questions back at the Boleyn Ground seven years ago. “It would have been a tougher battle,” he said.
- Photo by Reuters / ADAM HOLT
“Dereck takes a lot of my energy at the moment,” Haye adds. “I’m happy just working with Dereck. Some managers have 100 fighters and I have no idea how they do it.”
Part of the reason Chisora consumes so much of Haye’s time is because after our meeting, Haye had to attend a disciplinary hearing with the British Boxing Board of Control.
“Straight after this, I’ve got to go to the British boxing board to try and explain some of Dereck’s comments about Vaseline or something, which he’ll probably get fined for,” he said, referring to a lewd photo Chisora tweeted in September which showd him in a suggestive pose holding a jar of Vaseline.
Though there’s been an uptick in Chisora’s form and winning run, some things, it seems, do not change.
“Working with Dereck, there’s not much time to do much else,” Haye said. But that time will all be worth it should it yield in that coveted title shot.