Whyte will exercise a rematch clause with Povetkin, ending his hopes of fighting the winner of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder
Dillian Whyte will exercise his right to a rematch with Alexander Povetkin for the World Boxing Council Interim heavyweight title after his plans to meet the winner of the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder fight were scuppered by a brutal knockout in Brentwood on Saturday.
It was a stunning turnaround by Povetkin, whose left uppercut in the fifth round ended a compelling contest. Whyte had looked on course for victory after the 40-year-old – who has only lost to Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua in a long career in world title challenges – was down twice in the fourth stanza. Yet heavyweight boxing was ever thus. One punch can change the course of history – and this was a beauty.
Whyte, having outboxed the former Olympic champion by using his jab effectively and unsettling him with body shots, had his ambitions and his senses taken from him in an act of heavyweight artistry which reversed the course of the contest. It was a punch, and ending, that will live long in the memory, and will be replayed over and again.
Whyte, the arch survivor, was as shocked as the few in attendance on Saturday, but had regained his composure when he assessed the fight yesterday. “I was bossing it but I got clocked, it’s heavyweight boxing,” said Whyte, who had suffered a similarly spectacular blow in the only other defeat of his career, to Anthony Joshua five years ago.
Povetkin admitted that he had planned the counter punch in training, having seen the mistake on footage. But Whyte remained upbeat. “It’s not like I got beat up round after round, I got clocked, that’s all. He dipped low, I shot the hook, he came with the uppercut and that was it.
“I’ll have a couple weeks’ rest and get straight back in the gym. It’s not like I need to improve on anything really. I was a little bit annoyed because it was a silly mistake, I’ve blocked that punch 100 times in training.”
Certainly, by putting the WBC Interim belt and his position in the heavyweight division on the line, Whyte has arguably shown what seems inevitable unless the biggest names are going to sit out of the sport while audiences are unable to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Had the lack of a crowd affected Whyte, now a fan favourite? “I have no regrets, it was a great fight. Povetkin done well, I know I can beat him, I know I could beat him. I showed that from round one. From round one I was getting onto him, but obviously he’s a very experienced guy.
“His corner was on the verge of pulling him out and he pulled out one of the punches of his career. But that’s heavyweight boxing, it’s full of drama, ups and downs. I’m still one of the top heavyweights around and I’m still learning. A harsh mistake last night, but it’s all good.
“The main thing is we’ve got a rematch, we’re gonna exercise the rematch, and try and get it done by the end of the year.”
Whyte’s defeat could also hasten the contest between Fury and Joshua, should they both come through their next opponents. Both have said that they wish to defend their respective world title belts before the year is out. Fury, prior to Whyte’s loss, was facing a WBC mandatory challenge from the Londoner before moving on to Joshua, who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts.
Hearn told The Telegraph yesterday: “Right now, rather than looking at AJ [Joshua] against Fury, I feel for Dillian. I’m gutted – shell-shocked even – for him. He put it all on the line, took the risk, and it backfired.
“But I’m convinced Dillian will win the rematch, which will be a huge fight, because he was controlling this until he was caught in the fifth round.”
Hearn, The Telegraph understands, will be looking to stage major fights later this year at the Royal Albert Hall, as well as the O2 Arena.