Dereck Chisora believes training for months on end has left him in the best fighting shape of his life but he is aware he will have to take some punishment in order to land a knockout blow on Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday night.
Chisora is bidding to put himself in the mix for a world title shot in boxing’s blue riband division with an upset victory over Usyk in a contest that was moved from its original May 23 date to Halloween because of coronavirus.
The various restrictions imposed on the UK in recent months have sharpened the mind of the battle tested Chisora, who is looking to hand Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion, his first defeat as a professional.
While Chisora (32-9, 23KOs) insists he has had the perfect time to prepare for this bout, many observers think the Londoner’s only realistic chance is to expose Usyk to the power that the Ukrainian is unaccustomed to.
The 36-year-old said: “I have to go to him. For me to stand there and try to pick my punches, I can’t do that. I am going to go to war, that’s the only way I know since I started boxing.
“I’ll have to eat leather to land my leather, so when I land my one he will know he’s been hit.
“I don’t have anything to lose. I’m in great shape, my mind is right and I’m just happy to be fighting this year because there’s so much happening in the world for everybody.
“I had a great camp. I’ve been training for about nine months for this fight. Looking at the board in the gym, I only had one week off since I boxed David Price (in October last year).
“It’s the best training camp I’ve had since I became a professional. This was a long, long long grind every day.”
Overseeing preparations has been former foe turned manager David Haye, who it was revealed earlier this month had been offering £1,000 to any sparring partner who could knock down Chisora.
Chisora said: “Nobody has come and tried to knock me out, they’ve all ran out the gym because they can’t handle the power and the pace. I wanted to increase the prize up to £20,000 but David said ‘no’.
“He’s telling me there’s nothing else we can do.
“Has he been holding pads for me? No. Has he been training with me? No. He sits and watches. He tells me to push for more. What he did was get the people around to do a job for me which he’s used his for his own training camps.”
The stunt seemed to be an attempt to find someone who could replicate the style of the slick Usyk, who won gold at the London Olympics and is now the mandatory challenger to the WBO heavyweight title held by Anthony Joshua after compiling a record of 17-0 in the paid ranks.
But Chisora said: “To get a fighter like Usyk is a lie and for him to get a fighter to spar like me is a lie.
“I didn’t need anyone to box like Usyk, what I wanted was southpaws to see the way they stand and the way they move their feet. We’ve got that right now so the game is in play because if that’s right then the punches are going to land.”
Some of Chisora’s previous bouts have been overshadowed by unsavoury behaviour in the build-up and immediate aftermath but the fighter insists he has nothing but respect for Usyk.
He added: “This guy is a good guy, there’s nothing bad about this man. He won a gold medal and he’s beaten everybody so for me to come out and say anything bad about this guy just makes me look stupid.”