Somewhat controversially, given the fact that rival promoter Frank Warren will be holding his own show tonight, Eddie Hearn has chosen today to be the day for the hotly anticipated rematch between Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora. The two heavyweights will be going into this contest knowing that victory would see them with a very high chance of being able to secure a world title fight in 2019, potentially even against unified champion Anthony Joshua in April at Wembley. Meanwhile, it’s back to square one for the loser, who will have to work his way back up to being considered for an opportunity to challenge for a world title.
When the pair came head to head in 2016, there was as much action outside of the ring in the build-up to the contest as there was inside the squared circle. At the press conference on December 7th, for example, Chisora famously threw his table at Whyte and his team, resulting in the BBBofC withdrawing its sanction of the fight so that the British title was no longer at stake (only Whyte’s WBC International belt). The heated exchanges continued in the ring as both men put on a show on what could have easily been a headlining fight in itself on the undercard of Joshua’s defence of his IBF belt against Éric Molina on December 10th. The pair traded blows from start to finish and both men looked in trouble at various points during the contest. The older Chisora landed some heavy body shots in the early rounds and Whyte was on the back foot, culminating in a wobble for Whyte in the fifth following a massive overhand right by Dereck. However, having already given so much, Dereck came out tired in the sixth, allowing Dillian to pin him into the corner and send out a flurry of shots of his own. Chisora came back stronger in the next two rounds and by the end of the ninth, the two heavyweights looked exhausted. The touching of gloves before the final round indicated that for all the pre-fight build up, respect was finally there. Chisora was stunned by a right hand halfway through the twelfth, but as in almost every round, both men took heavy shots yet somehow managed to avoid a knockdown. In somewhat controversial fashion, with several commentators believing Chisora did enough to deserve the victory, Dillian Whyte was awarded the win through a razor-thin split decision. One judge gave it to Chisora by 115-114, but the other two judges scored it 115-113 and 115-114 in Whyte's favour.
Despite an impressive performance, this loss meant that it was back to the drawing board for Dereck Chisora. He got back to winning ways with a TKO victory over Filipovic in September 2017, but a majority decision defeat to Kabayel two months later meant the Englishman was again forced to pick himself back up. A second-round stoppage over Azzouzi in March of this year set up arguably a make-or-break fight with the durable Carlos Takam in July. In what was a surprise to those who believed Chisora was past his best and on the decline, Dereck came out strong against the Frenchman with an impressive performance, albeit after a slightly shaky start. Round 8 saw Chisora land a big right hand, dropping Takam, and then another immediately after, again sending a dazed Takam to the canvas. The referee stopped the fight, awarding Chisora the vacant WBA International title and catapulting him back up into the upper ranks of the heavyweight division.
Dillian Whyte, meanwhile, went from strength to strength after his win over Dereck, remaining undefeated since his only professional loss at the hands of Anthony Joshua in December 2015. A third-round stoppage win over Malcolm Tann in August 2017 was followed by a unanimous decision victory against Robert Helenius in October of the same year. Whyte’s reputation has grown immensely this year, with a brutal sixth-round knockout of former world champion Lucas Browne in March preceding a unanimous decision victory over another former world champion in the form of Joseph Parker, albeit despite a nervy ending.
Thus, recent wins for the two Brits have set up a rematch to settle the unfinished business that emerged as a result of the competitive nature of their fight in 2016. Although the build-up has been far tamer than it had been for their first bout, a fiery weigh-in, in which both men came in at 17 stone 8 pounds, showed some animosity is still there. Whyte is arguably the fresher fighter with Chisora being four years his senior, but Dereck claims to be a different fighter nowadays under (surprising) new manager David Haye, exemplified by his replacement of the nickname ‘Del Boy’ with, simply, ‘WAR’. Whether Dereck’s new and intensified training regime, which has seen him come in at his lowest weight since he fought Pulev in May 2016, will be enough to halt the rise of Dillian Whyte remains to be seen, but what is for sure is that this fight will be a Christmas cracker.