Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin Preview
By Sina Latif
Tonight at Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp, British heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18 KO’s) will be putting his WBC mandatory status and WBC Interim title on the line against the Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KO’s) in a fight which is also for the vacant WBC Diamond belt.
After the fight fell through twice due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is finally taking place in the grand finale of the Matchroom Fight Camp series.
There may be no crowds and unusual circumstances surrounding fights currently taking place, but that does not prevent this fight from being a high-profile heavyweight clash with plenty on the line.
Whyte turned professional in 2011 after only seven amateur fights, which included a win over Anthony Joshua.
Povetkin, however, has been boxing professionally for 15 years. European Championships, World Championships, 2004 Olympic gold medalist, and a WBA ‘Regular’ title champion. The experience and pedigree is clear for all to see.
In terms of experience, the difference between the two is vast.
However, Whyte has considerably improved since his sole professional loss to Anthony Joshua in 2015 and has become a dangerous force in the heavyweight division, earning his stripes and long deserving a title shot with a seemingly huge final hurdle to overcome in order to fulfil his ambitions.
“The Bodysnatcher” is on an 11-fight winning streak after defeating some very credible opponents, including former WBO champion Joseph Parker, Dereck Chisora and unbeaten Cuban, Oscar Rivas.
His best career performance was against Parker, dropping the Kiwi heavily in the ninth round with a thunderous left hook before surviving a late rally from the former champion on his way to a unanimous decision win.
Next up, Povetkin, a dangerous assignment. The Russian is very capable of causing an upset, but is he too far past his prime now with his 41st birthday in less than a couple of weeks? Does he have the same ambition as a younger Whyte who will have so much to lose?
Whyte is a fighter who can really dig deep when the going gets tough. Does Povetkin still have the desire and capability at his more advanced age to put everything on the line and go to that dark place if necessary?
The WBC has officially confirmed Whyte as the mandatory challenger for early 2021 to the winner of Fury vs Wilder 3. On top of the tough fighter Whyte already is, with so much on the line now and a lot to lose, Povetkin will be coming up against a very determined, younger foe on the night.
However, on the flip-side, after Povetkins’ loss to Joshua, another world title challenge must have seemed dead forever. The Russian may bring all the intensity and experience he has at his disposal into the ring in order to rejuvenate his career and have a final shot at glory in his 40’s.
Povetkin is a great in-fighter. ‘Sasha’ generates huge power on the inside with sharp uppercuts and hooks. His main punches are a dangerous left hook and overhand right. Povetkin’s punch dexterity along with his experience means there is a real element of risk for Whyte. With age, however, the Russian has lost speed and explosiveness.
Whyte has improved significantly over the years. He has become a much more patient, well-rounded boxer, sticking behind a good solid left jab, good counter-punching, improved footwork, but is also always ready for a war of attrition. He is tough and durable and can go to war with vicious body shots, devastating left hook, and good in-fighting with quick combinations to head and body. However, the Brixton heavyweight is not too elusive. He is no stranger to touching the canvas.
This fight has all the ingredients for an explosive showdown. Whyte arguably has the biggest left hook in the division, but Povetkin has the capability to use Whyte’s biggest weapon against him with a left hook of his own that can knock out the Brit, or any heavyweight for that matter.
A motivated and fit Povetkin can be a nightmare for Whyte. The Russian’s challenge has been dismissed by some quarters due to his two previous underwhelming performances against Hughie Fury and Michael Hunter. Nevertheless, the likelihood is that Povetkin will be more motivated against Whyte than in any of the aforementioned prior fights, with a perceived greater threat in front of him and the rewards so high.
Povetkin’s career-best performance is a 10th-round knockout of Carlos Takam in 2014, overpowering the durable Frenchman with a clean left hook knockout.
A question mark surrounding Whyte ahead of this fight is how well he will perform with Mark Tibbs no longer in his corner, after their split six weeks prior to this showdown. Tibbs was fundamental in Whyte’s improvements and guided him through some tough fights.
How Whyte will perform with a less experienced Xavier Miller in his corner and without the support and advice of Tibbs is yet to be known. The addition of experienced British trainer Dave Coldwell in Whyte’s corner on fight night is a clear bonus, although there are also question marks surrounding how well Whyte and Coldwell can function together in a working capacity having never worked together previously, and having never been in camp together.
As Whyte has finally reached the home stretch towards his long-awaited title shot, with the WBC officially stating his mandatory status in the lead-up to this bout, the Brit will be facing a man against whom anything less than his A-game will not bring victory.
However, if Whyte brings his best form, he can finally prevail in the fight of his life and get the shot he has deserved for so long. He will have capped off this fairy tale journey to a title shot, finally shining a light during these uncertain times after having been shot and stabbed as a child, and experiencing the cruel side of boxing. Unfulfilled assurances and much less deserving fighters leap-frogging him to title shots whilst he fights for every other belt under the sun other than a real world title.
This fight is not one to be missed. The future of the heavyweight division, and of a man who has gone from collecting glass Coke bottles on a beach in Jamaica to being on the cusp of the chance to be heavyweight champion of the world, will be determined on Saturday night.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing