Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Ali Wasn't Loved, People Forget That'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Ali Wasn't Loved, People Forget That'

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Majendie

IT'S A muddle of contrasts inside the world of Dereck Chisora. He arrives in a state-of-the-art Mercedes but wearing a tattered red dressing gown with holes under the armpits. He claims that boxing needs big personalities like him only to often be monosyllabic in conversation. And then there's the weekly anger management sessions he has undertaken which he believes have worked but, in the same breath, he warns his volatile temper could flare up again on Saturday.

Quite what goes on in the head of Chisora, 29, is a mystery. The circus that is Chisora comes to town -- Wembley Arena to be precise -- once more this weekend as he has his first fight since regaining his licence from the British Boxing Board of Control, against Argentine Hector Alfredo Avila.

On his day, Chisora can box and he proved so in 12 rounds against Vitali Klitschko last year. But then there is the other side to him, highlighted by his Munich brawl with David Haye. He also spat in the face of Klitschko's brother, Wladimir, before the fight with Vitali and has served 150 hours of community service for assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

Chisora is at least trying to address the anger. "I regret some of it," he says looking back on some of the low points of his career. "I'm doing an anger management course. I see this guy every Thursday. I think everybody should do it." So what do they discuss and how has it helped him address the red mist that has too often descended? He adds: "That's between us," before adding: "I just put myself in a nice place when I get to that point."

In fight week, putting oneself in a "nice place" is easier said than done, with the adrenalin pumping and Chisora having fought just once since the Klitschko defeat -- a bout against Haye sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation. He admits he has no idea whether he will flare up again.

"It's fight week and things might change," says Chisora. "When I go, it just happens in a flash, bam, and that's it."

There is an element of remorse in his past indiscretions but, at the same time, he seems content to play the role of boxing's latest bad boy.

"I don't care if people are booing me," says the Londoner. "They can boo all they like. Muhammad Ali wasn't loved, people forget that, but people paid for tickets to see him fight. In retirement, he's loved. As long as people are talking about you, that's a good thing."

A perspex picture of Ali (right) looms large above us at the Finchley gym where Chisora has been training since returning from a three-week camp in Cyprus. The surroundings are simple, the other feature of note being a poster for his fight against Klitschko. It is one of four defeats from his last five bouts and his reputation as a boxer and a human being is in need of restoration from events of the past year or so. …

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