A brief moment of civility came during fight week for the rematch between Derek Chisora and Kubrat Pulev.
Every fight week function has featured the veteran heavyweights going forehead-to-forehead, attempting to physically move each akin to a pair of rams. The pattern ceased Friday, as both calmly stared down the other immediately following their trip to the scales during Friday’s final pre-fight weigh-in at Canary Wharf's East Wintergarden. The bout headlines a DAZN telecast Saturday evening from The O2 Arena in London.
Chisora (32-12, 23KOs) arrived on site sporting a mask of recently resigned prime minister Boris Johnson, checking in at a beefy 258 weighed pounds. The former heavyweight title challenger from North London via Mbare, Zimbabwe was more than 12 pounds above his weight of 241 ¾ pounds in a May 2016 12-round split decision loss to Pulev, his lightest for any of his fights in the six years that has since passed.
Pulev (29-2, 14KOs) checked in at 250 pounds, just one pound heavier than his weight of 249 in his previous win over Chisora. The 41-year-old from Sofia, Bulgaria—who represented his home country in the 2008 Beijing Olympics—has only lost at the title level, suffering knockout defeats to then-lineal and unified champ Wladimir Klitschko in November 2014 and to then reigning unified titlist Anthony Joshua in December 2020.
Just one fight has followed the loss to Joshua, as Pulev soundly outpointed Jerry Forrest over ten rounds this past May 14 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Chisora has lost three straight, including a pair of decisions to former WBO titlist Joseph Parker. The 38-year-old divisional gatekeeper is 7-7 dating back to the first fight with Pulev.
The co-feature also features a rematch, though one that requires closure from the first meeting.
Uzbekistan’s Israil Madrimov and France’s Michel Soro meet nearly seven months after their December 17 WBA junior middleweight title eliminator which ended in controversial fashion. A title shot is once again at stake as both boxers made weight for the sequel.
Madrimov (8-0, 6KOs) was 153 ¾ pounds, the same weight for his ninth-round stoppage over Soro last December in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Soro (35-3-1, 24KOs) was 153.7 pounds, slightly heavier than his weight of 153 ¼ in their previous encounter but still within the 154-pound divisional limit.
The first fight saw Madrimov credited with a ninth-round stoppage in a competitive affair, though largely due to referee Salvador Salva allowing the action to continue well beyond the three-minute mark. Soro was stunned inside the final 20 seconds, only to absorb additional punishment after the bell clearly sounded. It was missed by the referee, who allowed the onslaught by Madrimov before halting the contest.
A lengthy review took place, though for naught as the ruling in the ring was upheld. Soro’s team rightly protested the outcome, forced to accept the defeat but at least granted an immediate rematch by the WBA.
The winner will become the fourth mandatory challenger in waiting for undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 18KOs).
Also on the telecast, 2020 Somalia Olympian and rising prospect Ramla Ali (5-0, 1KO) faces Buenos Aires' Agustin Marisa Belen Rojas (6-1, 0KOs) in an eight-round junior featherweight contest.
Ali—a Somali refugee based out of London—weighed 122.8 pounds, while Rojas was 122.2 pounds.
Saturday's bout marks a return to the UK for Ali—also an iconic activist and model—following three straight pro fights in the U.S., along with a trip to Tokyo in proudly representing her native Somalia in last summer's delayed Olympics. She returned home to London following the quadrennial competition and has since resumed her pro career. Two fights have followed, including a second-round knockout of Shelly Barnett in her most recent start on March 19 in Los Angeles.
Below are the weights for the rest of the undercard.
Felix Cash (15-0, 10KOs), Wokingham, Berkshire, 159.9 pounds vs. Vaughn Alexander (17-6-1, 10KOs), St. Louis, 158.7 pounds—10 rounds, middleweight
Caoimhin Agyarko (11-0, 7KOs), Belfast, 153 ¾ pounds vs. Lukasz Maciec (28-4-1, 5KOs), Lublin, Poland, 154 pounds—10 rounds, junior middleweight
Fabio Wardley (13-0, 12KOs), Ipswich, Suffolk, 238 pounds vs. Kingsley Ibeh (7-2-1, 6KOs), Phoenix via Nigeria [weight T/K]—10 rounds, heavyweight
Solomon Dacres (3-0, 1KO), Warley, West Midlands, 231 pounds vs. Kevin Nicolas Espindola (7-4, 2KOs), Buenos Aires [weight T/K]—rounds, heavyweight
Yousuf Ibrahim (1-0, 1KOs), 120.1 pounds vs. Francisco Rodriguez (1-6, KOs), 121.1 pounds—4 rounds, junior featherweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox