Derek Chisora’s defeat to Joseph Parker last December was greeted with a chorus of people telling him to retire. The problem is, he’s not listening.
Seven months later, he’s back, fighting Kubrat Pulev at the O2 Arena in London. After three successive losses, a win over the Bulgarian could see him crash back into the world rankings. Chisora will walk away when he is ready.
“You don’t listen to people, that is one thing I have learnt in this game,” Chisora said. “You don’t listen to no one, you do what makes you happy. Listening to people, running around saying people have told me to do this or do that, forget that.
“Boxing is a tough game so you have to be even tougher. Your mindset has to be ‘I don’t give a f---’. That’s the only mindset that can keep you in this game. The minute you worry or focus on anything else you are in trouble. Thankfully, for me, I don’t give a f----.
“If you want to really know how good you are, you have to lose and come back. Muhammad Ali lost five fights and kept coming back. In England we have had someone like Amir Khan who has lost a lot of fights and always bounced back. You can lose a fight, as long as you don’t lose the motivation to get up, go back to the gym, work hard, take a pasting and make a comeback. If you lose that, you are f-----.”
Talk of retirement is never far from Chisora, though, and even Eddie Hearn, his promoter, has been telling him another loss will be the end for the 38-year-old.
“I don’t know how I will handle retirement but I admit to you now that I am on my way out,” he said.
“I’m not retiring but I am on my way out. Think of this as my encore and I am going to give the fans some big rock’n’roll anthems.
“How many times have we been told that the Rolling Stones have retired and then you hear the guitar into ‘da, da, dadada, da, da, dadad.
“I don’t make plans, the saying is ‘When a man makes a plan, God laughs at him’. Winning isn’t everything, having W’s on your record is not always winning. Making people happy, entertaining people, sometimes that’s the real winning.”
Chisora went forehead to forehead at Thursday’s press conference with Pulev, but no matter how headed Chisora can get in fight week, he has a habit of getting on well with his former opponents.
Recently he bumped into one, Oleksandr Usyk, at a London bath house.
“It was so funny,” he said. “When I am tired I go there. I finished and the guy who owns it, Alex, said ‘are you going home? Give me one second’. So I sat down on the sofa and then all I hear is “Derr-rreck!!” It was him [Usyk]. I talked to him, 'what have you been up to?' He looked tired. He said, ‘I’m tired, I just swam for five hours’. It was good to catch up.
“There are no rivals, there is no hating another fighter. This is the fighting game. We are two bulls in the stable trying to prove who is the bigger man. And after, when our balls get cut off, we become mates.
“That’s how I see it. I’m friends with all the fighters. It doesn’t matter if you knock me out, if I see you, I am going to give you a hug.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.