By: Hans Themistode
Heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte took the long road to a title shot.
It wasn’t the path he wanted to travel, but it was the only one given to him.
Everyone remembers Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) slumped over the bottom the ropes, eyes rolled in the back of his head and seemingly lifeless five years ago.
His state of unconsciousness was handed to him by long time rival Anthony Joshua in the seventh round of their matchup. Since then, the dirt that was thrown on his boxing career has been brushed aside as he has revived his career.
With 11 straight wins over the likes of perpetual contenders in Dereck Chisora and Robert Helenius as well as former champions such as Lucas Browne and Joseph Parker, Whyte now finds himself on the doorstep of his first crack at a world title. Provided of course, he gets through one more door this Saturday night.
Whyte, 32, faces off in the final headliner of promoter Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp series where he’ll take on Alexander Povetkin.
With 396 days since Whyte claimed the WBC mandatory position, President Mauricio Sulaiman has assured the British native that a win this coming Saturday night will ensure that he won’t be skipped in line for a title shot.
“The winner of Wilder-Fury is committed to fight Whyte if he is victorious on August 22nd,” said Sulaiman on Boxinginsider radio earlier this year.
The news of his title shot may have brought a smile to the contenders face, but Povetkin will be aiming to turn it upside this Saturday night.
At the age of 40, Povetkin’s championship window is closing faster than ever.
With a shiny gold medal dangling around his neck from the 2004 Olympics, Povetkin wrecked the competition right from the gate. His impressive knockout performances resulted in his first crack at a world title against Wladimir Klitschko in 2013. It was a night that Povetkin would rather forget though as he was outclassed.
Fast forward five years later and he would obtain another world title shot, this time against Joshua. The results were the same as Povetkin was stopped in the seventh round.
Now, fresh of a split decision draw in his last contest against Michael Hunter in December of 2019, Povetkin steps into this matchup against Whyte some what as an unknown. At the age of 40, and his reflexes slowing down considerably, he isn’t quite what he once was. With that being said, the Russian native has put in overtime during his training camp in order to turn back the clock come Saturday night.
“I understand how important this fight is,” explained Povetkin during a recent press conference. “When you’re taking a fight against Dillian you have to be prepared.”
The journey to his first world title opportunity has been an abnormally long one for Whyte. Yet with several big time wins under his belt and the number one ranking in the WBC sanctioning body, Whyte is not only looking at his contest against Povetkin as a must win, but he also has his notepad and pen ready to take notes.
“This is usually the most dangerous and hardest hurdle to be honest but I deal with pressure well. I could have had an easier fight but I’m still learning. I had seven amateur fights and 20 professional fights so I’m still learning. These are the sort of fights that you need to grow. This guy has seen 20 guys that fight the same style as me so I have to be ready and this is a fight that I need and can learn from.”