The Friday Faceup

Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing

On Saturday night (22nd) big time boxing returns at the Matchroom ‘Square Garden’ in Brentwood, Essex.

The last few weeks of ‘Fight Camp’ events have seen the post-COVID return behind closed doors at the venue, with some cracking contests between male and female domestic fighters. However, Saturday sees the first recognised men’s event of world significance. All the better, in the heavyweight division.

Mandatory WBC world heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte from Brixton, south London faces former 2004 Olympic gold medallist Alexander Povetkin in a ‘must win’ fight for both.

The 32 year old Whyte 27-1 (18 KO’s) continues to wait for a title shot after being in the mandatory position for over 1,000 days. Not unique in boxing history, but certainly long overdue. The situation exacerbated by a UK Anti-Doping charge (subsequently dropped) and the trilogy of fights signed by Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. In the lead up to fight night Whyte has been promised by the WBC a crack at the winner of the third fight. Something Whyte has put to the back of his mind.

The near 41 year old Povetkin 35-2-1 (24 KO’s) has seen it all. Representing Russia with distinction in winning multiple amateur European and World championships and finally Olympic gold in Athens. He’s twice failed in world title challenges; to Wladimir Klitschko and more recently Anthony Joshua. In the latter he was well in the fight before succumbing to the Brit’s power in the middle rounds.

Both fighters are coming off nine months of enforced inactivity since unimpressive outings in Saudi Arabia last December. Whyte ‘The Body Snatcher’ came into the ring on the Joshua-Ruiz rematch card after a difficult 2019 and in excess of 20 stone. He struggled but eventually prevailed against teak tough Mariusz Wach. For Saturday’s event he’s shed in excess of 1.5 stone coming in a trim 18st 6lbs (252lbs). Povekin, small by modern heavyweight standards, weighed in at 16 stone (224lbs). This differential and the lower mileage on the clock is likely to benefit the Brit considerably.

Look for Povekin to cause Whyte problems with his movement and superior technique early in the fight but when the ‘Body Snatcher’ plants his feet and the mobility of Povetkin slows down Whyte should register a stoppage between rounds 8 and 12.

The contest is for Whyte’s WBC Interim Heavyweight title and the even lighter regarded WBC Diamond belt. Most importantly; it is for the ‘right to fight’ for the main title currently held by Tyson Fury early next year.

Also on the card is a much awaited female rematch between Ireland’s Olympic hero and multiple ‘world’ champion Katie Taylor 15-0 (6 KO’s) and Delfine Persoon 44-2 (18 KO’s). The first fight in June 2019 in Madison Square Garden was a hotly disputed humdinger of a fight with Taylor winning on the right side of a majority decision. Saturday promises to be equally riveting, with the Irish heroine expected to win another close decision.

The fight is for Taylor’s undisputed status at lightweight (9st 9lbs) with all the available sanctioning belts being held by her.

Both fights and a full supporting undercard are promoted by Matchroom Boxing and are available only on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK or by worldwide stream on DAZN.

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