There have been times recently when Dillian Whyte has railed against the situation in which the 31-year-old finds himself. Frozen out of a major world title challenge, Whyte calls heavyweight boxing “a joke”, after sitting on top of the World Boxing Council rankings for over 300 days while the merry-go-round involving Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, and Tyson Fury has ensued.
However, that situation may change soon. The Brixton brawler set pulses racing in 2018 with three brilliant wins over Lucas Browne, Dereck Chisora and Joseph Parker, all at the O2 Arena. Whyte returns there next Saturday, where he meets unbeaten Oscar Rivas for the interim WBC title. The Colombian, 26-0 in a 10-year career, is a clever boxer with decent power and speed.
Wilder, meanwhile, is expected to fight again in September or October against Luiz Ortiz, and is being lined up for a rematch against Fury in February. Whyte must simply beat Rivas, play the waiting game, and be ready. He is ranked No 1 challenger by the WBC, and placed at No 3 by the World Boxing Organisation and World Boxing Association, but he may well look back on matters earlier in the year and lament not signing to fight Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium in April.
Whyte stood to earn close to £6.5 million according to promoter Eddie Hearn, and had the opportunity to claim three of the world title belts. Instead, it is Andy Ruiz Jnr, the Mexican-American, who now enjoys the spoils after his shock defeat of Joshua at Madison Square Garden on June 1.
“I’m probably the most underestimated boxer in the world,” Whyte said. “People always talk some rubbish every time I fight them. We see it time and time again. I’ve done nothing but praise Oscar Rivas. He beat Kubrat Pulev and Andy Ruiz in the amateurs, he was a top amateur – 26 fights, 26 wins in the pros, 18 knockouts. He just beat Bryant Jennings.
“This for Rivas in his world title. For him it’s a big thing. He thinks everyone is overlooking him and he’s going to prove this and he’s going to prove that. I do that every fight. This isn’t a fight that I’m going to change my mindset for. It’s been like this my whole career.”
The O2 Arena is Whyte’s fortress and his performances there – in seven of his past 11 fights going back to his sole career defeat by Joshua in 2015 – have turned him into a popular figure in British boxing. The greater fitness under trainer Mark Tibbs, a growing ring savvy and a relentlessness in his fighting style, along with his now famed left hook, have made Whyte a force to fear.
“Rivas can look out for my left hook, but I’ve got a massive arsenal of other punches. Hopefully, he’ll be looking for the left hook and that will leave him open,’’ added Whyte.
Meanwhile, at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night, Rio Olympics superheavyweight silver medallist Joe Joyce claimed a points victory after being taken the distance for the first time in his undefeated career by former world title contender Bryant Jennings.
Joyce was the aggressor throughout, but could not find the openings to stop the durable yet unambitious American, who was deducted a point by referee Steve Gray for low blows. Joyce took the bout by unanimous decision 118-109, 117-110 and 115-112 on the judges’ cards.
Heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois continued his unbeaten rise with a fifth-round knockout of Nathan Gorman to claim his twelfth career victory and the vacant British heavyweight title.