Dereck Chisora (left) squares up to David Haye in front of the latter’s manager, Adam Booth. Chisora and Booth emerged bloodied from the ensuing brawl

Boxing has its many detractors at the best of times. Throughout the history of organised boxing there have been those who have argued against encouraging the brutality of a sport which sees the vast majority of its participants retire battered, bruised, scarred and, to varying degrees (more often than one would like to think), brain-damaged.

Boxing’s defendants see it as one of the oldest and most noble sports of our civilisation, being as it is a direct descendant of ancient Greek and Roman pass-times. They stress not the dangers, but the rewards on offer for those who possess the most courage, the fastest feet and the heaviest hands.

What no-one in boxing encourages, though, is slapping your opponent, spitting water onto his brother, or gate-crashing a press conference before assaulting someone with a tripod.

Welcome, then, to the sordid world of Dereck Chisora and David Haye.

The action of these two men, who until the weekend ranked alongside the likes of Carl Froch and Amir Khan as British boxing’s most well-known and most admired ambassadors, have torched everything they should hold most dear – their reputation and respect, and the reputation and respect of their sport.

The BBC’s Ben Dirs highlights in his most recent blog the incredulity with which the Haye-Chisora brawl has been met in Munich, where it took place, both by the general public and by the two true titans of world boxing – Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, who stood by first dumbstruck then mildly amused as their respective opponents exchanged fisticuffs and fell over chairs.

Chisora’s actions before, during and following his points defeat to Vitali have been disgusting. Formerly viewed as a cheery figure of fun for his playful nature and Only Fools and Horses theme tune, Chisora’s mood has been on the downturn ever since the Ukrainian belt-holder’s camp vetoed his song as “childish”. Already a massive underdog for the title bout, Chisora slapped Vitali at the weigh-in, and spat water on Wladimir as he approached the ring.

Haye has emerged with no better a reputation. Working at the Chisora-Klitschko post-fight conference as a pundit for BoxNation, Haye called out Chisora as the latter was speaking, reminding everyone that ‘Del Boy’ had “lost three fights in a row”, and taunting Chisora.

According to Froch, Chisora is at fault for rising to Haye’s games. For me, Haye – until recently my favourite ever boxer – is equally to blame for his abuse of Chisora. Whatever the case, what happened next will shame both men forever – and may result in the pair of them receiving life bans from boxing.

The full… er, ‘fight’ is on the BBC website here, but to summarise, both Chisora and Haye’s trainer Adam Booth emerged bloodied, with Chisora claiming Haye had bottled him. At some point, the older man threw a camera tripod at Chisora, who shouted at least five times “I will shoot you” before telling Booth he would “physically burn” Haye.

The exact details of what happened are, frankly, utterly irrelevant. What is more important is that boxing now has another major embarrassment to deal with, so soon after having to investigate the shady actions of Mustafa Ameen at Khan’s title fight with Lamont Peterson in Washington last year. Chisora, who gave a lion-hearted showing in taking Vitali to points, may be finished at just 28. Haye, 31 and currently retired, looks less likely than ever to get his prized second shot at Wladimir.

The Klitschkos, who pointedly did not even try to involve themselves in the shambles developing around them, have only further enhanced their fearsome reputation both in and out of the ring. And now, the fate of their sport, and the heavyweight division especially, rests ever more heavily on the broad shoulders of Dr. Ironfist and Dr. Steelhammer.

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