Haye-Chisora is legit, says MMA fighter
EXCLUSIVE: The controversial weekend bout between David Haye and Dereck Chisora has the boxing world in uproar, but a local MMA fighter feels the duo are settling things ‘the right way’.
Khalid Ismail has trained with boxers amongst other disciplines to develop his skills as he looks to improve his early undefeated career following injury setbacks.
And while the antics outside the ring of Haye and Chisora – who are relying on licensing from Luxembourg to stage their fight on Saturday at Upton Park – has provoked several cries of foul play from legitimate sport purists, gym owner Ismail believes the events, though tasteless, are no pre-determined con.
“I don't think it was staged,” said Ismail, who spent time under the umbrella of Chisora’s trainer Don Charles. “Dereck is a good fighter but also a volatile character, very hot-headed.
“And if you watch the press conference, Haye was initially speaking to Vitali (Klitschko) and Chisora takes exception, begins shouting at him, takes his jacket off and comes towards Haye.
“If someone took off their jacket and came towards me aggressively, that tells me he's going to try and do something to me.
“Whether it be boxers, MMA fighters or any other type of combatants, they are generally aggressive guys and during the Haye-Chisora press conference we saw that.
“But I think we need to look at how they are resolving it: in the ring. I personally think that's brilliant and am shocked that few other people can see that.
“Instead of beating each other up at press conferences or on the streets, they are going to do it in a sporting environment.”
Despite the build-up leading to bloodshed, suspensions and even arrests, Ismail is the first to admit that even sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts need the extra-curricular activity to boost interest – with Anderson Silva’s recent UFC victory over Chael Sonnen after promising to “break his legs” as a strong recent example.
“The fact is, everybody loves to hate a bad guy,” he continued.
“The best bad guy out there at the moment for me is Floyd Mayweather, and look at how many tickets he sells and how much revenue he generates.
“When he fought Oscar de la Hoya five years ago, he decided that they couldn't both be good guys and took it upon himself to play the bad guy.
“When he realised how much more money that made, it just took off from there.
Incidents such as the infamous German press conference brawl and Silva’s uncharacteristic pre-fight comments towards Sonnen are often a catalyst in the divide between fans of boxing or mixed martial arts, with doubts cast over the legitimacy of the other.
As someone who has spent the last few years promoting the benefits of all combat sports as a hybrid, however, Ismail feels a lack of harmony does neither discipline any favours.
“Boxing has gone on a bit of a decline but there are still a lot of people attacking the concept of MMA rather than actually watching a card,” he explained.
“I train with Terry Dunstan, who was a former British and Commonwealth cruiserweight boxing champion , and even as a mixed martial artist I love watching boxing.
“I feel as if the two sports should work together more and encourage more people to take up the fighting arts.”