“Dillian Whyte, nobody’s ever heard of him in the United States.”
Boxing promoter Bob Arum, who has Tyson Fury among his roster, was not exactly complimentary of the mandatory challenger for the WBC heavyweight championship in a recent radio interview.
It is this attitude from an influential figure in the sport that helps to explain why Whyte is often portrayed as the forgotten man among British boxers. As an amateur, the Jamaican-born fighter beat unified world champ Anthony Joshua via unanimous decision from the judges’ scorecards.
Although AJ avenged that loss in the paid ranks with a seventh-round stoppage in their 2015 encounter, that is Whyte’s only defeat in boxing to date. He is out to make it 12 victories in a row in his next fight against Russian veteran and former world title challenger Alexander Povetkin.
British boxing has been dominated by headline acts Fury and Joshua in recent years, but all the while Whyte, age 32, has been winning and now holds a pro record of 27-1 (with 18 knockouts). First named mandatory challenger by the WBC some three years ago, he is still waiting for his shot at the belt.
Fury took that strap from long-time champ Deontay Wilder when he snapped the America’s undefeated streak in their rematch following a thrilling and controversial draw in 2018. A third fight that makes their rivalry into a trilogy is signed.
While Fury is a firm favorite with the bookies to beat Wilder once more, Whyte has been left making defenses of his status as the number one contender time and again. To his credit, he has put that on the line and preserved his position as next in line.
The WBC don’t just regard Whyte as mandatory challenger but interim champion. That goes up for grabs against the 41-year-old on Sept. 2nd Povetkin, but the market sides with youth over experience.
Whyte should have no problem dispensing with that opponent, but what then? As patient as he has been waiting for his title match, his camp felt that it was time he asserted his rights earlier this year by pressing his case legally.
Nobody can question Whyte is the WBC’s number one contender on merit. There remain obstacles in his path to what is rightfully his, however. The Wilder trilogy is not yet complete and, after that, Joshua v Fury to crown an undisputed world heavyweight champion is the fight every boxing fan wants to see.
That notwithstanding, Whyte remains a more than credible challenger to either of his fellow Britons. There is a trilogy of sorts for Joshua and him to finish after their 2009 amateur fight and 2015 rematch in the paid ranks.
Such strength in depth for British boxing comes at a time when across the pond, America is looking for its next breakout at heavyweight. Wilder’s star fell to earth after a flurry of Fury fists pummelled him into losing the WBC belt, but it really ought to be Whyte that gets to fight for the gold sooner or later if the rankings have any meaning at all.