Dillian Whyte, once the bad boy of British boxing, puts his newfound maturity to the test in the most important fight of his life on Saturday.
The 31-year-old heavyweight could become the obligatory challenger for the World Boxing Council title if he beats Colombian Oscar Rivas at the O2 Arena.
Whyte’s ring nickname was once “Dillian The Villain” but his transition to cult hero after victories last year over Lucas Browne, Dereck Chisora and Joseph Parker has earned him a bulging bank account as well as wider notoriety, recognised by an invitation to compete in an upcoming series of Celebrity Masterchef.
The BBC show has already been filmed, and also includes Kellie Maloney, formerly the boxing promoter and manager Frank Maloney, who underwent gender change three years ago.
“It was great to be involved in the series and I learnt a few things, too, including how to use knives precisely in the kitchen,” explained Whyte – a nod to the past, when knives were involved in a much darker dimension of his life, namely him being stabbed more than once in violent incidents growing up in south London.
“I suppose it is rewarding to be recognised for what I have achieved already, but I want to win a world title, and I won’t be satisfied until I have fought Anthony Joshua again, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury,” he explained.
“But what I have learned over the last two years, while I earned my right to get a world title, but did not get it, is to have patience.
“I learnt that as a kid growing up in Jamaica. There were many times when I didn’t have anything to eat for a few days, like there were times when I didn’t even know if I would survive in life. So many times, in fact.”
But the street fighter mentality, the will to survive, has driven Whyte on – just as it will when he headliners against the unbeaten Colombian on Saturday.