Dereck Chisora and Oleksandr Usyk had an offbeat exchange about the rightful ruler of the animal kingdom as the Ukrainian attempted to downplay the likely size differential between the pair ahead of their heavyweight contest.
Usyk is the betting favourite heading into Saturday’s showdown at Wembley’s SSE Arena as the former undisputed cruiserweight champion looks to take a step towards fighting for a world title in boxing’s blue riband division.
The unbeaten southpaw has never scaled more than 215lbs as a professional and cast himself as a lion, but Chisora, who weighed 260.25lbs in his win over David Price in his last outing, was happy to be branded an elephant.
“If the king of animals would be detected according to size then an elephant would be the king of the animals not the lion,” Usyk said via his promoter and translator Alexander Krassyuk, before being interrupted by Chisora.
The press conference continued on in good humour as Chisora responded: “An elephant is the king of the jungle for the simple reason a lion is only brave when there is loads of them.
“When an elephant is by himself, he can attack lions and get away with it.”
When Usyk asserted that elephants are friends with mice, Chisora, who also referenced the famous ‘You shall not pass’ line from film franchise Lord of the Rings at one point, responded: “That’s what you heard in Disney.”
The bizarre conversation led promoter Eddie Hearn to conclude: “This Saturday, it is the elephant against the lion.”
While Usyk’s footwork, movement and accuracy have been universally acclaimed, there are question marks about how he will cope with the power of an established heavyweight in just his second fight in the division in the paid ranks.
But when asked about his own punching ability, Usyk said: “Ask Tony Bellew”, in a nod to his last cruiserweight fight in which he knocked out the Merseysider and good friend of Chisora in November 2018.
Usyk (17-0, 13KOs) added: “I am really glad that many people consider that I have no punch and it’s easy to get a victory over me.
“I don’t know why everyone is talking about a test at heavyweight because in all my life I’ve been tested by heavyweights.
“When I was fighting in the World Series of Boxing (before turning professional) I was a heavyweight and my fights in the heavyweight division, and people wanted to hurt me and didn’t manage to.
“He will definitely want to hurt me badly but I will not stand in front of him to let him do that.”
Victory for the battle-hardened Chisora (32-9, 23KOs) this weekend would arguably be the finest of a career in which he has won and lost against some of the great fighters of the last decade.
The 36-year-old said: “Most people tell me I’m holding the golden key to the rich and famous but I’m happy to hold those keys. What do they say in Lord of the Rings? ‘You shall not pass’.
“I’m going to bring everything I have. It’s going to be shootout and I know for a fact when I hit him, he’s going to be hit.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) October 29, 2020
“I might lose nine or 11 rounds but who knows what’s going to happen in the 12th round? This is boxing and the heavyweight game, I hope he’s ready because we are bringing violence. We’re going to chuck so much stuff at him.”
As talk turned toward what legacy he would like to leave, Chisora added: “After I retire I don’t want to say ‘I could have done this and that’. I just want to give it all while I can.
“I don’t get motivated by family or anything like that, I just want to do it for myself. It’s for me.
“When it’s all done, I can look back and say ‘have I done it the right way, have I got any regrets?’ Right now, I don’t have any regrets, everything is going according to plan.”