Big Fight Preview & Prediction: Fury vs Whyte
The long wait for Dillian Whyte will end on Saturday night at Wembley Stadium and if Tyson Fury is to be believed, his career will also end there also.
There have been words said, many not said, silence isn’t always golden and the usual cocktail of smoke and mirrors has littered and soiled the build-up to the biggest fight ever seen in this country. He said, who signed what, disappearing acts, frantic phone calls to iron out plenty, rumours from people who either want to inflate their own self-importance or who have imaginary sources saying that the fight won’t happen. To some, it adds intrigue to the fight, to an old cynic like me it leaves me cold and adds nothing to a fight that sells itself. In truth, it did. In some respects, it had to.
The dark clouds that are hanging over the battle for the heavyweight championship of the world, will not blow away with the wall of silence from the leading players in a story that won’t end well for many. The questions came and the answers were short, scripted and with one eye on damage limitation and possible legal repercussions. There are many journalists taking the moral high ground, but some will still likely be in Saudi Arabia in a few months’ time ignoring an even bigger story. Boxing has never been pure. Or simple. And it never will.
But remove all the noise elsewhere there is a heavyweight title fight with real meaning and a legitimate argument could be made for either fighter to win.
Fury 33, the reigning undefeated WBC champion is quite rightly the betting favourite, but the heavy odds in his favour distort plenty about his dance with his British challenger. Talk of retirement is never good for any fighter even though Fury has said it previously and very few believe him this time. There are also reports it is the best Fury training camp ever, a story told so often it carries little value. Believe what you want. Sometime just before midnight, we will know what was fact and what was fiction.
Whyte 34, has been a Sonny Liston type figure in the build-up to the biggest fight of his life. He’s been missing in action, brooding in the belief he has been short-changed and undervalued, the team complaining loud and often about anything that wasn’t written down in his contract and probably plenty that was. Mind games or not, it will have no impact on the outcome of the fight. While the arguments raged over contractual obligations and more, Whyte stayed in Portugal and got on with preparing for his long-overdue title shot. The solitude in the sun will serve him well. Whyte will be as well prepared as he possibly can be.
The Whyte story is one that is very much from the streets. Stabbed three times, shot twice, make no mistake, his story could have ended another way. He thought he would be dead by 20, boxing saved another soul. It’s been a life of struggle, in recent times the struggles to earn his long-awaited title shot have been well documented. In truth, there has been fault on all sides, but Whyte finally has his moment. If he becomes the first fighter to beat Fury the arguments pre-fight will be replaced by a new champion who will be able to write his own cheques. The hottest free agent in boxing would be no false claim.
Whyte has been waiting for this night since 2017, including over 1,000 days in limbo as the mandatory challenger. There have been wars, too many in truth and against fighters who Fury would or has handled with some ease. Ageing fights that might tell against Fury, Sweet Caroline might have been heard a little too often for Whyte to emerge with a belt around his waist once the final punch has been thrown in anger. Has the opportunity come too late in the day for Whyte? Fury seems the fresher fighter, the three fights with Deontay Wilder were hard on the body and mind, but he is still the fighter with fewer miles on the clock.
But Whyte should not be written off, he doesn’t possess the kind of power Wilder has, but he brings far more to the table than the one dimensional Wilder. There is a strong feeling that even if Fury wins he will have to get off the floor to do so. Wilder power or not, Whyte hits more than hard enough to pull off the shock. We know Fury gets dropped, a little too easy for me. But he always gets back up. At least up until now. Fury is by no means unbeatable, he is in truth, a very good heavyweight in a poor era. An exciting one for sure, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a golden era of heavyweights. It isn’t.
I don’t think we can dismiss entirely the retirement talk, one foot out of the door as they say. Or the distracting and more links to Daniel Kinahan. Either distraction could be pivotal to who wins on Saturday night. Small margins usually decide who wins and who loses. Is Whyte catching Fury at just the right time? Fury has conceded that if he doesn’t bring his A-game he loses. I agree.
But if Fury is at his absolute best he is the fighter who seemingly has more ways to win. Whyte might only have one. If the fight stays at range Fury surely wins. But can he keep Whyte off him for 12 rounds? Can the legs carry him through 36 minutes against a marauding relentless challenger? Whyte will apply pressure and plenty of it. Nobody beats Whyte with ease. Fury won’t either.
The bookies have it wide for the champion. They have it wrong. There is real value in a Whyte victory, odds of 4-1 for an outright win or 5-1 for a stoppage victory look far too tempting to ignore. Make no mistake, those odds don’t accurately reflect how close this fight is. A Whyte victory would hardly be a tale of the totally unexpected.
But is Whyte destined to be the nearly man? With some fighters that is just their narrative. There is a feeling that Whyte is one such fighter.
I can quite easily see any which way of scenarios, either man on points or by stoppage, although Whyte would probably need a knockdown or two to win on points. Not beyond the realms of possibilities. Whyte could be all wrong for Fury, but equally, Fury could be Whyte’s worst nightmare. It really is that kind of fight.
We saw the different sides of Fury in the wildly exciting Wilder Trilogy and I believe we will see a mixture of those styles on Saturday night. Fury will box when he wants to or needs to and fight when the need arises. That extra versatility will be his path to victory.
The challenger will start fast. He needs to. Whyte will look to suffocate Fury with pressure and will look to the body when the fight develops at close quarters. The body attacks could be his best route to a famous win. But Fury is no slouch at the inside game and is very effective in using his weight and size to wear down his opponents. But Whyte carries his power for 12 rounds, even if he is heavily dominating Fury could still be one punch away from oblivion.
The challenger will undoubtedly have moments and there is every chance he might have one very big moment to eradicate any points deficiency. But Fury looks to have too many tools for Whyte to deal with. Fury seems the safer pick but with some degree of caution.
The champion will almost certainly have to overcome some adversity, and he very well might have to pick himself off the floor once again. But I believe Fury will have his hand raised in a fight that won’t disappoint any of the 94,000 fans who are lucky enough to be in attendance. I see Fury winning on points but I wouldn’t be surprised if he forces the stoppage down the stretch.
If Fury does prevail the story will then turn to a tale of retirement or not. I’m not convinced he will walk away to a life outside of boxing, but even if he does carry on, it will be for one last outstanding piece of business. Fury is the best heavyweight of his generation, but there is still one last mega-fight to be had with the winner of the Usyk/Joshua rematch later this year. The whispers in his ear will grow louder, and Fury, even if he really is serious about retiring, will not be able to resist one last ring walk.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank