The last time British heavyweight Dillian Whyte left the ring, ‘The Bodysnatcher’ from Brixton had to haul himself up from the canvas after being knocked out clean by a highlight-reel left uppercut from Alexander Povetkin.
On Saturday night, the 32-year-old enters the ring in Gibraltar for ‘The Rumble On The Rock’ aiming to reclaim the Interim WBC heavyweight title against his Russian rival and throw a £200million spanner in the works of Tyson Fury v Anthony Joshua.
How Whyte can muscle in on Fury and Joshua
It’s the old game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’: win, and Whyte is back in the big time and the next cab off the rank should anything happen to Fury or Joshua. Lose, and he slides down the heavyweight ratings and will have to climb the ladder again, to be regarded as a gatekeeper for the up and comers.
It is not where Whyte intends to reside and he has half an eye on muscling in on boxing’s biggest-ever fight, especially as the first of the two bouts does not yet have a date and venue. “Look, one of Fury or Joshua might get knocked out in the first fight, and say they’ve had enough,” Whyte explained to Telegraph Sport.
“This is boxing, man. Let’s see what happens. The fight might even not happen. Boxing is a dog eat dog business, and you just have to win, get in position, and be ready. That’s my mindset.”
Victory in Gibraltar will propel Whyte towards fights with Fury, Joshua or even Deontay Wilder – all multi-million pound blockbuster contests. But it is the £200m showdown that is on his mind.
“It’s weird that it’s not signed. Why aren’t they both going on about the fight? It’s crazy,” Whyte continues. “If there’s one fight you need to be vocal about it’s this fight. If you’re not screaming and shouting about this fight you must be dead, you must have a dead soul.
“Let me fight for the title and I’ll sign a contract saying I’ll fight these guys next back-to-back. I’ll be the assassin. I’m on straight smoke. I would assassinate all these guys for them, free of charge.”
But if they do fight, Whyte adds, “it’s hard to pick. Fury has been inactive for a long time, and Joshua has grasped a safer way of boxing. For me, it’s a 50/50 fight.”
What happened last time?
Whyte, for so long the nearly man in the heavyweight division, had dominated the Russian for four rounds and had knocked him down twice in their first contest last August. Then a moment for which the heavyweight division is famous: the knockouts. Size and weight equals power, and in heavyweight boxing, when 17 and 18st men collide, it is so often lights out.
“I’ll always be a junkyard dog because that’s where I come from. Boxing is a dog eat dog world, it’s a tough world,” Whyte says. “This is the most important fight of my career. Like I said this is boxing, I’ve been through ups and downs my whole life so I’m used to bouncing back, proving people wrong, showing people what I can do when they’ve written me off.”
What do Whyte (27-2, 18 KOs) and Povetkin (36-2-1, 25 KOs) say?
“Let’s see if he can make changes and how many changes he makes at this stage in his career,” Whyte explains. “We’ll see. I’ve never seen him celebrate a victory like that. He’s usually a cool, calm, collected guy. He couldn’t believe he won.
“I’m not a guy that visualises the knockout or that kind of stuff but I know I’ll stop him. Visualising and reality are two different things. I make things a reality. Povetkin’s a good fighter, a top amateur, Olympic gold medallist, but I’m learning, improving and getting better every day.
“On Saturday I’m going to leave it all on the line once again. The main thing is the win. My coaching team has worked hard on different plans and working different areas.”
Povetkin strikes a different tone. “I’ve almost forgotten about the last fight because this is finished,” he says. “I think that Dillian will be better in the second fight than the first. At the same time, I’ll try to be more careful, pay attention more to my defence. I don’t have this mindset that I’ll knock him out. It could go the distance; I’m not focusing on the knockout and I’m going to follow my plan.”
Who will win?
Both men are likely to be cagey and cautious in the opening forays second time around. Whyte will have to avoid the Russian’s traps, but the improved jab of the Londoner should see him command the bout with his left hook detonating later in the contest – rounds 7 to 11 – when Whyte lands his famed left hook. But with heavyweight boxing anything can happen.
Whyte by TKO or KO, rounds 7 to 11.
Alexander Povetkin vs Dillian Whyte 2 for the WBC Interim heavyweight title is live on Sky Box Office on Saturday March 27