On Saturday night, London’s O2 arena will once again hold host to a Dillian Whyte headline bout as the WBC’s number 1 challenger takes on former WBO heavyweight champion, Joseph Parker for the status of, ‘Best of the Rest’ and a future shot at the true heavyweight honours.
Whyte, 23-1 (17KOs) is fighting at the O2 for the 5th time in his career and the 3rd time as one half of the headline fight. Last time out, Dillian took just 6 rounds to KO the previously unbeaten, Lucas Browne of Australia in impressive fashion. Dominating from the first bell, Whyte seemed to know within the first few minutes that Browne had come to survive. The ‘Body Snatcher’ held his punches a lot better than in previous bouts and, in stark contrast to his awkward encounter with Robert Helenius in 2017, the Jamaican-born heavyweight timed his attacks well, and didn’t throw desperately, when Browne occasionally avoided his assaults. It all culminated in an evil left hook, arguably the best punch Whyte has thrown in his pro career, landing on the Australian’s wide-open chin, sending him face down and conclusively ending the fight.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
That March matchup came a week before Parker took on Joshua at the Principality stadium in Cardiff, and winning that bout appeared to put Whyte to the front of the heavyweight line waiting for a shot at the belts. Saturday’s fight won’t be for world championship honours, but Dillian, speaking to ‘Give Me Sport’ recognises how close he is to the shot he’s been working for, for so long,
‘‘Anyone that’s successful in life, whoever and wherever they are, have had to take a lot of risks and chances…That’s why I signed with Matchroom. That was a risk because I knew they had Joshua, and Joshua’s the golden boy.’’
And the challenge of facing the former WBO champion,
‘‘I’ve fought everyone that’s been asked of me to fight. I feel good…If he (Parker) didn’t come to fight against Joshua, the biggest fight of his career, what’s he going to change now? He could have come back and had an easier fight, but he didn’t. I respect him for that.’’
‘‘Who knows. They might surprise us, and he might come out and go for it in the first couple of rounds…I don’t expect Parker to try and come and mix it with me in the centre of the ring, because if he does that, he gets dropped early.’’
Saturday’s bout will mark Parker’s return to the ring since losing a 12-round decision to Anthony Joshua; a loss that took his ‘0’ and his WBO world strap.
‘‘The body’s looking better than last fight,’’ Said the Samoan-born boxer, speaking to ‘RadioSport’ in New Zealand. ‘‘It’s stronger than last fight. I feel I do need a stoppage. There might be a bit of favouritism here for the local fighter. We’ve given our thoughts on the officials.’’
‘‘When you have two fighters like myself and Dillian Whyte going at it I think it probably won’t reach the 12th round…His fight plan is just to stand there and throw bombs and he wants me to get sucked in to his plan.’’
‘‘I think this is a must win. The winner of this fight elevates to the top for a world title fight with Joshua, maybe Wilder and then all of these fights with Tyson Fury and the big names.’’
This will be Parker’s, 24-1 (18KOs), 3rd fight in a row in England, after also defending his belt in a drab of a scrap against Hughie Fury last September, in which the New Zealander won via a split decision. The talk is big from Joseph in the build up to the weekend’s main event, but he’s struggled to really impress since his 3-round KO of Alexander Dimitrenko back in late 2016.
As has been mentioned multiple times about this matchup, the winner should maneuverer there way into a world title fight next. The WBC ‘Silver’ and WBO ‘International’ straps aren’t just there for decoration alone. They might be meaningless when they’re wrapped around the winner for post-fight photos, but the belts signify an elevated status in the rankings and if the victor’s follow up bout to Saturday night isn’t a world championship bout, they’ll have a pretty big target on their back with the best of the rest of the division ready to shoot.