BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Dillian Whyte’s rematch with Dereck Chisora is on – and there is extra South London heavyweight spice added to the mix.
Brixton’s Whyte won the first meeting between the pair a couple of years ago on a split decision.
And the nature of that toe-to-toe war has always made a return hold appeal.
Whyte is highly ranked by nearly all of the major governing bodies and the talk is that he could go straight into another rematch in 2019 against Anthony Joshua and the chance to win multiple world titles.
That would arguably eclipse David Haye’s achievements at heavyweight. And the Bermondsey two-weight world champion is now a factor in Whyte-Chisora II as he has started managing the Finchley fighter.
The question is whether he can help Chisora, whose performances veer between being very good and totally listless, ensure it is revenge and not repeat at Greenwich’s 02 Arena on December 22.
Whyte reckons that the Hayemaker’s sudden introduction into negotiations actually made the fight more difficult to make.
Both fighters are going to get seven-figure paydays with promoters Matchroom Boxing making it a pay-per-view event.
When Whyte was asked about Chisora and Haye combining forces, he said replied: “They are both strange guys. David Haye is a narcissist – an egotistical maniac.
“We were this close [holds two fingers very close together] to making the fight three weeks ago. Hayes comes on and the fight goes way, way out. He tried to add another 20 per cent to the fight and messed everything up.
“Haye is trying to make his money and get his wage.”
There were those who thought Chisora won the last encounter between the pair.
But Whyte has gone on to win his next four to compile an impressive record of 24 wins and just the one reverse – to Joshua in December 2015.
“Opinions are like a********,” said the 30-year-old. “Everyone has got one – and they all stink very, very bad.
“I won the fight by three or four rounds. I threw 300-400 more punches than him. I out-hustled him. He landed some power shots but he fought all in spurts. I was fighting constantly every day. Every time he had a big rally I went straight back and knocked him down in the 12th but the ref didn’t give it.
“He [the ref] helped pick him up. I’ve never seen that from a referee, not even when it is a slip.
“I just try my best to progress and keep pushing on. It’s about progression – not perfection. I don’t care what people say or think. As long as I’m progressing, doing something. What are they doing? Nothing.”
Haye retired after being stopped in five rounds by Tony Bellew in May. He won in the same round against Chisora at a rainswept Upton Park in July 2012 – in what turned out to be his last display at anywhere near his best.
The grudge angle certainly played up. The pair had clashed in Germany when both attended a Wladimir Klitschko fight. Promoter Frank Warren had a steel mesh separating them at press conferences.
Haye said: “Ever since our beef it has all been pretty amicable. We eat at the same places and go to the same places. He’d ask after my kids and I’d ask about his.
“The respect has been there. I was very, very happy when Dereck asked for me to take control of his career – not only on the business side but also the training side.
“I saw it as a huge challenge. I talk to people and they all say he is hard work but in training he has done what he needs to do. I think he realises he is in a last-chance saloon situation where he has to win this fight.
“Last time he lost a very close, controversial decision. This time he knows that performance isn’t good enough – Dillian Whyte has improved a lot and had some great wins.
“Dillian has been living the life, sleeping and doing the right things. Dereck hadn’t been. When he lost in Monaco it wasn’t that the other guy was better than him, he was just not in condition.
“It is a pretty basic gameplan. He’ll be going straight at Dillian and putting a whole heap of heat on him. I can’t see this fight going 12 rounds.
“If he knocks out Dillian in five rounds in spectacular fashion we’ve potentially got an AJ fight in April. When you see the condition Dereck comes in [to the bout], people will be very, very surprised.
“He’s hitting big numbers in the gym and his heart-rate is coming right down.”
Asked about his retirement, Haye said: “Being in the ring isn’t for me anymore.”