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Disgraced duo are set to earn a fortune from fight.

Byline: PETER SHARKEY

According to former world champion Barry McGuigan: "After the way Haye and Chisora behaved in Germany.

they should have served a reasonably lengthy ban. The fight should not be allowed to happen."

Readers will recall that after the Zimbabwean-born Dereck Chisora had lost his title fight against Vitali Klitschko in Munich last year, he received a ban from the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) for slapping the heavyweight world champion before the fight and for spitting a mouthful of water in brother Wladimir Klitschko's face. Meanwhile David 'The Hayemaker' Haye sported a T-shirt showing the Klitschko brothers with severed heads, a sick sartorial display which hardly endeared him to most boxing fans.

Yet this display of petulance and stupidity, unbecoming of men who consider themselves prize fighters, paled into insignificance when the pair decided to 'get it on' in Munich's post-fight press conference, Haye brandishing a beer bottle in one fist as Chisora threatened the use of a firearm should they renew acquaintances in the near future. However, the ferocity of their thuggish brawl, though it resulted in Chisora being stripped of his BBBC boxing licence (Haye had not renewed his, having officially retired in October 2011), will, it seems, reap considerable commercial benefits.

After saying last week that a fight between the disgraced duo was one which he felt that fight fans would want to watch, boxing promoter Frank Warren announced plans to put his man, Chisora, up against Haye at West Ham's Upton Park on July 14, whereupon 17,000 tickets for the bout sold in a single day. Neither boxer holds a British licence, and so bizarrely, the fight will be staged under the auspices of the Luxembourg Boxing Federation which has hastily licensed it.

In a sport hardly renowned for its ethics, money has once again been the decisive factor in persuading the managers of two average fighters to get their charges into an east London football ground where they will presumably be instructed to knock lumps off each other.

Each fighter will reportedly receive a minimum of pounds 2million as a reward for violent behaviour in Munich more suited to a vomit-strewn pavement outside of a city centre nightclub. There is little likelihood that a ground of West Ham's capacity would have needed to stage the contest had Haye and Chisora not suffered the opprobrium of Britain's sporting public, although one of the principal beneficiaries of their rematch is likely to be Frank Warren's Box Nation boxing channel.

Launched last September with the assistance of investors such as Zoom Communications, south east Asia's largest provider of broadcast facilities, Box Nation's business model emulates that of several other specialist broadcasters. With prices ranging from pounds 10 a month for a three month subscription to pounds 15 a week for pay-per-view access, securing July's fight should provide a significant fillip to the channel's finances.

"Spite and malice sell boxing," says Martin Connell, chief executive of Apex Sports' US division based in New York, "and pay-per-view is where the money is. I believe it's a market Box Nation are keen to exploit. In Haye and Chisora, not only do they have the animosity, they also have the platform from which to generate a handsome profit."

The pay-per-view (PPV) figures speak for themselves. Oscar de la Hoya grossed more than $610million from 18 PPV fights because on average, viewers were prepared to pay almost $50 a time to watch him box. Mike Tyson's 12 PPV contests grossed $545million and Evander Holyfield generated PPV sales of almost as much ($543million), although he did feature in two more bouts than Tyson.

"The highest-grossing fight, in PPV terms," says Mr Connell, "is still the De La Hoya - Mayweather bout which took place more than five years ago and generated revenues of $120million. The average fee paid by viewers that night was over $56 a head. Sooner or later, that figure will be surpassed."

Spite and malice do sell boxing, it's been done before, though by classier exponents than Haye and Chisora.

Mike Tyson once strode across the stage of a New York theatre featuring far too many heavily-set, besuited men and threw a punch at one of Lennox Lewis's team, whereupon Lewis unleashed a right towards Tyson's head. It was a scuffle which ended with Lewis showing off the bite marks he had suffered - on his leg.

Before this altercation, the pre-fight build-up and Lewis's laid-back nature had hardly set the world on fire. The rate at which ticket and pay-per-view sales increased after the dust-up almost trebled.

Of course, many such displays of seemingly overt aggression are little more than pantomime designed to sell a few more tickets, but the off-stage feuding involving Chisora and Haye has, remarkably, catapulted them into the category labelled 'major box office'. Following remarkable first day sales, more than 20,000 tickets have been sold for the fight at prices ranging from pounds 50 up to pounds 1,000 - incredible considering that neither boxer holds a British boxing licence.

"I think it's an affront to the BBBC to put on a fight under the Luxembourg Boxing Board's jurisdictions," says Barry McGuigan. "The [board] should not allow an organisation to come into their territory and put on a show without their permission."

It's a widely-held view, but a tawdry, thuggish brawl has effectively succeeded in turning two over-the-hill boxers into well-remunerated sporting 'personalities', albeit ones laden with the unwelcome baggage of notoriety. It's probably fair to assume that neither man cares about that.

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David Haye (left) and Dereck Chisora at Upton Park
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 17, 2012
Words:931
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