Back in business
It’s been a long seven months for British heavyweight Dillian Whyte to reflect on what he got wrong in the Matchroom Fight Camp last summer. He knew the only way he could silence the naysayers and regain the momentum lost was to avenge his defeat to Russia’s Alexander Povetkin. This, he emphatically did in the foothills of the Rock of Gibralta on Saturday night.
In a hastily arranged rematch it took Whyte (28-2, 19 KO’s) a mere eleven and half minutes to wipe the slate and regain his lofty position to fight for the WBC heavyweight championship. Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic champion and two time world title challenger was never really in their fight, looking shaky on his legs from the opening bell, and finally succumbing to Whyte’s pressure and heavy blows on 2:39 of the fourth round.
It wasn’t really a story of Povetkin (36-3-1, 25 KO’s), who now at 41 must contemplate retirement, but more a story of how a fighter can recover from a single punch shock defeat, regroup and basically continue where they left off before receiving that blow. Over the four completed rounds Whyte had dominated their first fight and then got nailed by arguably the best single shot of 2020, a left hook cum uppercut. Coming into Saturday’s fight there were many who picked Povetkin to do the same, as rematches historically often go that way.
Whyte however knew in that seven months between fights that he was the better man and it had merely been a lapse in concentration resulting in the defeat. He still though had to prove it and the pressure on him would have been immense on entering the ring.
Ultimately his victory was emphatic and sent a statement out to the leading heavyweights and world sanctioning bodies. In the post-fight interview he cited the sacrifices made over the Christmas period to prepare diligently for the rematch. All time well spent.
Also how close he was to victory last time out “I was so close, and then one lapse in concentration and I made a mistake”. That “mistake” resulted in him losing his mandatory challenger ranking with the WBC. This week they should though do the right thing and re-install the Londoner to a position as their number one contender for Tyson Fury’s championship.
We know the biggest fight in boxing is due to take place sometime this year between three belt champion Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, and that it may result in an immediate rematch. We also know that former WBC champ Deontay Wilder has not fought since losing to Fury early last year and has bitched and moaned about it ever since, not ever indicating his real desire to re-enter the ring. For this he should sacrifice his ranking and Whyte be re-installed.
Boxing politics will dictate when and where the 32 year old Londoner gets his shot at the title, but provided that “mistake” is not replicated in any unnecessary intervening fight, he should challenge the winner of the Joshua-Fury argument. This will likely be early 2022.
After fighting most leading contenders in the last three years Whyte deserves the rest and to watch others battle it out before ultimately being forced to face him. A retaining of his conditioning and desire over that period will be important factors but, don’t bet against him rising from the dust when it finally settles.