The Heavyweight Landscape: Whyte vs. Wallin
By Ian Aldous
Saturday August 22nd, 2020:
“What a shot from Alexander Povetkin! He’s knocked Dillian Whyte cold here, in the fifth round,” lead commentator Adam Smith shrieked with an utterly shocked tone to his voice reminiscent of the night he described Anthony Joshua’s loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York, a year previously.
“And that is extraordinary. Unbelievable,” he concluded. It truly was. That sublime and technically perfect uppercut that left Whyte motionless on the Matchroom Square Garden canvas, was equally as shocking as Joshua losing his world titles.
Just three minutes previously, Whyte had dropped the Russian twice and was marching towards a shot at the world heavyweight title, as the reigning interim champion of the World Boxing Council. It felt long overdue. Yet, he would have to wait even longer.
At 41-years of age, the former Olympic gold medallist had shocked the boxing world. But, the modern and frankly ludicrous tradition of one-way rematches signalled the requirement of Povetkin to repeat his upset and beat ‘The Body Snatcher’ one more time.
A debilitating bout of Covid suffered by Povetkin delayed the contracted rematch, and he portrayed a shadow of his former self inside the ring when thoroughly beaten, dropped and stopped by the Londoner in Gibraltar, last Spring. He was firmly back on track.
After tasting bitter defeat against Anthony Joshua in their 2015 grudge match, the 33-year-old Whyte had compiled a stellar list of victims as his journey to a bonafide world heavyweight title fight gathered momentum. Derek Chisora (twice), Robert Helenius, Lucas Browne (at the time undefeated and viewed as a threat), Joseph Parker, and Oscar Rivas were all despatched.
Just one, rather large and not so easy, hurdle awaits.
On Saturday October 30th, Otto Wallin will attempt to dethrone Whyte’s status as the WBC’s mandatory challenger. If Dillian gets past the Swede, he will finally get his shot at WBC world heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury.
That may well be easier said than done.
Wallin, 22-1 as a professional, appears to be a sizeable risk when considering the manner of his sole loss at the hands of the No.1 heavyweight in the world, the aforementioned ‘Gypsy King’. He performed more admirably than most have when battling Fury. He bloodied the then-lineal champion and was maybe even a little unlucky not to win. You see, had that cut been on the facial features of someone other than the heavyweight cash cow, it would have been very likely that the contest would have been stopped and Wallin declared the victor. The heavyweight landscape would look very different today, had that been the case.
Worth a little contemplation is the fact that, that was the old version of Fury, under the guidance of Ben Davison, who lacked punch power that the newest version possesses in abundance. The Fury who has since battered Deontay Wilder twice, may well do the same, or worse, to Wallin should they meet again.
The former European heavyweight champion rebounded from the decision loss to Fury by defeating Travis Kauffman and Dominic Breazeale. Should he be victorious on the night before Halloween, then he’ll warrant another shot at Fury. That’s if a one-way rematch clause isn’t in place for Whyte, which it probably is, such is the likelihood in modern boxing. It isn’t outside the realm of realism to expect Whyte vs. Wallin 2 early next year.
The recently concluded Fury/Wilder saga has held the WBC title hostage for a lot longer than it should. With that chapter finally settled at the third attempt, now is the time for a fresh heavyweight title fight.
If Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte agree on anything in life – it’s that they despise each other. The build-up alone will be box office. A mini-tournament of sorts entailing Fury vs. Whyte or Wallin and Usyk vs. Joshua 2, could potentially lead us to the WBA, WBC, WBO, IBO & IBF world heavyweight title unification we’ve been waiting years and years to witness.
Should things not go his way against Wallin, Whyte will surely regret not accepting a unified world heavyweight title fight with Anthony Joshua in 2019. Citing a poor purse, he has since put everything into becoming the WBC’s mandatory challenger and a win on October 30th is vital to completing that journey.
But, with boxing being boxing, don’t be surprised if the WBC introduce their ridiculous ‘Franchise’ bauble and bestow it upon Tyson Fury. That will complicate matters further and make the title picture as clear as mud, just the way the WBC likes things to be.
Fight fans can also rejoice that watching a Dillian Whyte fight won’t be as unjustly expensive as it used to be. Having sadly been hidden behind the Sky Sports Box Office paywall for the majority of his recent career, at a cost of just under £20 per event, this time, DAZN will broadcast at a price point of just £7.99 – which also includes every other fight night they offer in the 30 days after payment.