Philadelphia heavyweight Malik Scott lost both his mind and his undefeated record this weekend at Wembley Arena against Dereck Chisora. Down on one knee in the sixth round after a cuffing right hand, Scott appeared unhurt but for whatever reason rose soon after the count of nine and was counted out in controversial circumstances. Whether or not Scott was unjustly stopped, he looked merely embarrassed as opposed to disappointed, and hardly mirrored the fury which his corner fired at referee Phil Edwards.
Was Scott simply overwhelmed by the occasion? This was the first time in Scott’s 37-fight career that he had fought outside of America and although he was supposed to be an acid test for Chisora, he engaged in too much holding and ignored the advice of his trainer, Jesse Reid, who told him to stop the spoiling antics.
Debate ensued on social media over the stoppage, but Scott should have known better and stood up earlier.
However, Chisora, who won the lightly regarded WBO International title, boxed calmly behind a high guard and threw the full force of his weight behind every punch. Indeed, you get the sense this is a turning point in his career. He turned in a studious performance and obeyed the commands of his father-figure trainer Don Charles, barking “yes sir” at his instructions.
The Finchley man set a high pace early on, walking forward with the visiting fighter circling away from potent roundhouse swings. Chisora nevertheless struggled to score with any great accuracy and the defensive Scott used mauling tactics to frustrate his rival. Be it tangling arms, wrestling or leading with the forearm, no amount of fouling seemed beyond the American and Edwards warned him repeatedly.
Scott’s team begged him to stop clinching and in the fourth session, Chisora finally began to break his stubborn opponent’s guard. With Scott on the ropes, looking to deflect and parry punishment, Chisora found a second wind and fired vicious left-rights to the body, finishing with a clean uppercut that forced his opposite number to side-step away in a hurry.
Still, in round number five, Malik continued to play possum on the ropes but began to roll with the punches and avoid attacks. His balletic footwork was paramount, as he wheeled away once again, and he also scored with two sudden uppercuts. Come the sixth round Scott was beginning to relax. Toying with Chisora again, he dropped his hands and relied on speed and combinations.
But Chisora grew frustrated and bull-rushed the tattooed Scott against the ropes, decking him with an untidy overhand right and a cheap shot to the body. Scott dropped to one knee in the unsightly melee. It was difficult to gauge the extent of his pain in such a blur of unravelling drama. He smiled at his corner during the count, but only he knows why. He stood up at “nine,” although Edwards was already signalling the end of the contest. Scott looked bashful more than anything else.
Granted, the polarising climax takes some of the gloss away from Chisora’s win. As MC Mark Burdis announced the result, the profanities Scott’s corner directed at Edwards caught the attention more than the actual result.
After the fight, promoter Frank Warren announced that Chisora will fight again on September 21 at east London’s Copper Box Arena. A revenge-tinged rematch with Robert Helenius could be an attractive option, while Tony Thompson could a potential foe if Warren is willing to cough up the cash and pull a few strings. This was by far the most accomplished performance of Chisora’s career and he and Charles seem to have found a groove together. Where Scott goes after such a humiliating meltdown is another story.
By Alistair Hendrie