He didn’t exactly wind back the clock, but Derek ‘War’ Chisora 33-12 (12) breathed a little life into his late career with a 12-round split decision over Kubrat ‘The Cobra’ Pulev 29-3 (14) at the O2 Arena in London, England on Saturday night.
The 38-year-old scored his first win in almost three years after dropping decisions to reigning WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker twice.
The 41-year-old Pulev twice challenged for the unified heavyweight championship of the world, coming up short in both attempts. Wladimir Klitschko stopped him in five in 2014 and Anthony Joshua had him out in nine in 2020.
But despite his age and miles on the clock, the Bulgarian entered the fight as the bookies favourite.
Brit Chisora clearly didn’t care.
Chisora started aggressively, working effectively on the inside with a solid body attack. Pulev kept it long, working at range behind the jab. In the fifth Pulev was cut over the left eye. Chisora battered Pulev in the seventh but Pulev returned the favour in the following round, wobbling Chisora in the eighth.
There was great two-way action for the rest of the bout with the ascendancy swinging like a pendulum. Pulev was cut over the right eye in the 10th but true to form, rallied in the 11th. Not to be outdone, Chisora finished strongly in the 12th.
According to CompuBox, both boxers landed 133 power shots. Chisora connected to the body 86 times but Pulev was busier and had an edge in landed blows, 200 of 796 to 171 of 526.
Those stats were reflected in the judges’ scorecards.
Judge Yordan Ezekiev scored the bout 116-112 for Pulev. He was overruled by judges Steve Gray and Guillermo Perez Pineda who had it for Chisora by tallies of 116-114 and 116-112 respectively.
Chisora previously lost a split decision to Pulev in 2016.
After the fight Chisora admitted he was in the twilight of his career, but said he still has a few more left in him.
“I last won a fight three years ago,” said Chisora. “It was hard. Pulev is a great fighter – very difficult, very fit. I had to train hard.
“I’m happy today, but at the same time I’m sad. I don’t have many fights left, but what I do have, I want to give it to you guys.
“I don’t want easy fights. I want hard fights. I told (Matchroom promoter) Eddie [Hearn] the other day that if he could get me ‘The Bronze Bomber’ (Deontay Wilder) I’d be happy. I want to fight everybody in my era – win or lose.”
Hearn appeared not so keen on the Wilder fight, suggesting a third bout against Dillian Whyte, who is coming off a loss to WBC champion Tyson Fury, would be the better option.
“It was a grueling fight, high-maintenance fight, and sometimes scrappy at times,” the Matchroom Boxing boss said to SecondOut.
“You don’t have a war of attrition with Derek around. I felt he deserved the win. One or two rounds, it could have gone either way.
“116-112 was a bit weird both ways, but it depends on how you score it. I’m so pleased and so happy for Derek Chisora. He’s just beaten a top ten, top fifteen heavyweight in the world, so it’s hard to say, ‘pack it in.’
“It would also be a great time to walk away, but I don’t see him stopping fighting at the moment, especially off the back of a win. We’ve got to match him right and match him carefully.
“We will talk about the Wilder fight. It’s a dangerous fight. Wilder is a very sharp puncher. I like the Dillian Whyte III fight just because those two will always have a great ding-dong. The journey moves on tonight for Derek Chisora.”