DEREK CHISORA has another special reason win a high-profile fight, which could push him into contention for the world heavyweight title, at the Wembley Arena in London tomorrow night.
Victory over unbeaten Ukrainian boxer, Oleksandr Usyk will be a perfect birthday present to his father Paul.
Very little is written about the Harare-based Paul, who turns 62 tomorrow, but he is proud father that his son rose from the streets of Mbare to become of the finest heavyweight boxers of his generation.
There is a feeling, within boxing circles, that this is a defining fight for Chisora who, should he find a way past the unbeaten Usyk, could clear the path to challenge WBO champion, Anthony Joshua.
Interestingly, Chisora and Joshua share a close relationship after coming through the same amateur gym.
However, Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, says a victory for the Zimbabwe-born British boxer could see him on a collision path with the WBO champion for the title.
“There is no official ruling from the WBO but, basically, if Chisora beats Usyk he becomes the mandatory challenger for Joshua which is madness in itself,” Hearn told Sky Sports this week.
“Liken it to Alexander Povetkin vs Dillian Whyte. Chisora is basically where Povetkin is — a top 10 fighter at the back-end of his career, he has fought for a world title and come up short, had some great wins to revive himself.
“They are both fighting mandatory challengers. If you beat the mandatory challenger, like Povetkin did, then you become the mandatory challenger.
“(Chisora’s manager) David Haye is lobbying [WBO president] Paco Valcarcel to say: ‘Usyk is the mandatory for Joshua — if we win, we take that spot’.
“They should. Usyk is No 1 so if Chisora wins, he should be No 1. It’s a remarkable turnaround in his career.
“Chisora has put every drop of his soul into this camp and will leave everything in the ring trying to pull off one of the greatest upsets ever by a British fighter.”
His father, Paul, will be following the events from his base in Harare.
As per the family tradition, Paul hasn’t spoken to his son for the past three months, which is basically what the Chisoras do when the boxer is preparing for a big fight.
“Derek is a fast fighter and he loves the game with a passion,” Paul told The Herald in an exclusive interview yesterday. “He doesn’t talk to people prior to bouts, and we have become used to that.
“However, we can hear his voice and see his handwriting even if we are not talking physically.
“This fight was supposed to take place in May before it was re-arranged for October 31, which is coincidentally my birthday. Derek called me when the new date was confirmed, reminding me it would be my birthday.
“So, I may not have spoken to him for the past three months, but I know he certainly knows that I will be expecting a big birthday present from him and that his victory over Usyk will be ideal.
“I don’t want to disrupt him from his preparations, that’s why we don’t talk before his fights.
“I know he will talk to me straight after the match on Saturday (tomorrow) as he has always done.”
He confirmed that most of his extended family members have already assembled at his house along Sanyanga Street in Mbare, as they have always done, whenever Derek has a bout.
“My house turns into a mini-stadium with people and members of our family coming to watch Derek in action. As I talk, most of my extended family members, including some from our rural home in Shamva, are already at my house in Mbare.
“They often converge at my place where we celebrate together rallying behind Derek and we are ready for this classic fight.”
Yet the 36-year old boxer, who left Zimbabwe to be with his mother, Viola, in London never looked like he would grow to become a respected heavyweight boxer in the world.
Instead, Chisora, who went to Tomlison Depot Primary and Churchill High before moving to settle in London, was a naught boy growing up on the tough streets of Mbare.
His father, who remarried after separating with Derek’s mother, was actually surprised to receive a call from the boxer advising him he had decided to pursue the sport as a profession.
“He was never a boxer growing up. He liked sport, yes, as he rarely missed schools’ football matches although he was a mere spectator,” Paul said.
“I don’t remember seeing him on the field of play but he would always be watching football.
“He was a naughty boy and he continued with his shenanigans when he moved to London. Even his mother would complain often.”
It took one Englishman, John Oliver, to realise that Derek would be transformed into a fine boxer.
“Oliver is the one who noticed that Derek’s naughtiness could actually be converted into something big. He is the one who nurtured him into the boxer he is today,” said Paul.
“I was surprised when both him, and his mother, called to say Derek could be England’s heavyweight champion.
“I tried to stop him, fearing he would be injured in this dangerous sport. I begrudgingly accepted but it was hard for me since I knew my son grew up without playing any sport.”
Paul said his son is very supportive and he has all his blessings.
“Yes, I divorced his mother Viola and married Sibusisiwe with whom I have sired four other children — Simon, Terrence, Mordecai and Paidamoyo,” Paul said.
“For starters, Derek is very close to his step mother, whom he stayed with for close to four years before he moved to London.
“The stepmom receives presents from Derek regularly and Derek visits here almost every year although the visits are kept private.
“My son looks after all of us very well.
“He has bought me a car and often we meet in South Africa and stay there for weeks before he goes back. He also has a heart for Mbare where he has pledged to help spruce up Mbare Musika.
“He is also involved in providing clean water for Mbare and Chitungwiza.”
But, tomorrow isn’t about community service.
It’s make-or-break for his son.
And, Paul believes his son, who has always defied the odds in his life, can win the big fight.