Dillian Whyte insists he hasn’t lost his nasty streak but he MUST finish the job in the biggest fight of his career against Alexander Povetkin… another defeat will see his world title hopes evaporate
- Dillian Whyte faces a must-win bout against Alexander Povetkin on Saturday
- The fact he has been forced into a rematch against the Russian is a career crisis
- He walked into an uppercut from hell and theories overthink what happened
- Whyte was dominating the bout last summer but failed to finish his opponent
- He claims he is still a ‘nasty’ fighter but must prove it or his title hopes will fade
When Alexander Povetkin offered Dillian Whyte a final handshake on Friday, he received a fist bump instead. Even in less germy times, this most brooding of heavyweights was never a great one for life’s pleasantries.
That he has found himself back in Povetkin’s company at all is tantamount to a career crisis, and for the same reason Saturday’s reunion in Gibraltar can be fairly described as his most important fight to date.
If he wins this rematch, he will return to his former spot at the front of the slow-moving queue of heavyweight contenders, but if he falls on the Iberian Peninsula as he did in Eddie Hearn’s garden last August, his long-awaited world-title shot might never come.
Dillian Whyte is eager to show he retains his nasty side as he plots Alexander Povetkin’s demise
He cannot afford to lose in Saturday’s rematch as he bids to keep his world title hopes alive
Against that backdrop, and in the shadow of another big lump of rock, there have been all manner of interpretations around the shocking defeat that pushed him to this place, but most theories tend to overthink what happened.
That is to say he was dominating and dropping a former world and Olympic champion across four rounds and then bumped into an uppercut from hell in the fifth.
In the heavyweights, it often isn’t any more complicated than that, but Hearn has since floated the possibility that some of Whyte’s nastiness and spite may have been sapped ahead of the first fight by a combination of his growing wealth and the unusual circumstances of the encounter.
Many forget he was dominating the Russian last summer having floored his opponent twice
Those included living in a Winnebago on the lawn of a Holiday Inn in Brentwood for a week and then being greeted each morning with a smile from the man he was going to punch.
Whyte himself has alluded to that latter issue, with the claim that his Russian opponent found a way to weaponise good manners.
In his usual style, Whyte, 32, explained it as thus: ‘Povetkin thinks he is smart and he likes to play this friendly game where he touches gloves before the fight and before every round – that’s what he was doing in the fight.
But he failed to finish the job and walked into an uppercut from hell with his career in crisis
‘It is very hard to be nasty to someone who is being polite to you. But this time I don’t care, this time I don’t give a f***. If he wants to be friendly, I don’t care, I will punch him in his throat.’
On Hearn’s point around the softening of wealth, Whyte, who will earn upwards of £2million for this pay-per-view fight, said: ‘I don’t live nice, people will tell you. I don’t party or have an entourage. I could be living in a much bigger place but I keep my life humble.
‘I don’t show up with Louis Vuitton or things like that, I have never been that guy. It’s Eddie Hearn who lives a comfortable life and he assumes I am too. He even asks me why I am not driving around in a Rolls Royce, with all the money I have earned, but that is not me. I am happy with an Audi and a Range Rover. The nastiness never left.’
For sure he will need to be more decisive if faced with the sort of chances he held in the first fight, when Whyte twice dropped Povetkin but failed to finish him.
There are many theories around why Whyte lost but he has vowed to be more decisive
Another defeat would scupper any hopes of a world title fight against Anthony Joshua
Whyte will go into the bout as the favourite and cannot be sucked into Povetkin’s mind games
An area of intrigue this time is whether Povetkin, aged 41, has fully recovered from being hospitalised with coronavirus, which caused the initial fight date in November to be postponed.
The lingering effects of the virus then led to a second postponement in January, so it has been a ropey preparation, and indeed Povetkin looked a little fleshy on the scales. At 16st 4lbs, he was four pounds heavier than in August, while Whyte was relatively toned and five pounds down on his weight for the first fight, at 17st 9lbs.
He will start as a decent favourite to regain his spot as the WBC mandatory challenger, a position he previously held for more than 1,000 days. If he loses, title fights with Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua will be further away than ever.
Meanwhile, Campbell Hatton weighed in at 9st 10lbs for his lightweight debut against Jesus Ruiz, a Spaniard with an 0-10 record. His task would appear to be more straightforward than that facing Whyte.
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