By Sean Crose
Longtime heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte had a lot to prove in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Having only lost a single bout eleven fights previously – to Anthony Joshua, no less – the 26-1 Englishman wanted to show what he was made of after being cleared from a faulty drug test. The fact that Whyte was appearing on the undercard of the mega Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua rematch in order to face the 35-5 Mariusz Wach showed just how important making his mark this weekend was.
The first round was a rather slow affair, with neither man looking to be in particularly great shape. Whyte started to come alive a bit at the end of the second. By the third it was clear that Wach had showed up to win, as he was landing well, if not winning the bout. Although he hit well in the fourth, it obviously wasn’t prime Whyte. In fairness, however, the match with Wach had been rather suddenly made. Wach landed effectively and strongly at the end of the fifth. Both men landed well in the sixth, though Whyte looked to be edging it. Sure enough, Whyte continued t chop away in the seventh. He then turned up his energy level in the eighth. Wach landed well in the ninth, but Whyte kept it competitive. At the end of the round, however, Wach unloaded. Whyte swung wildly, but missed, in the final seconds of the tenth and final round. The Englishman walked out of the ring with a UD win. Whyte didn’t look his best, but he won a fairly entertaining fight nonetheless.
Next up, the 40 year old former title challenger Alexander Povetkin put his 35–2 record on the line against the 18–1 rising heavyweight Michael Hunter. America’s Hunter was looking to impress on his way to the top, while Russia’s Povetkin was looking to show that he was still in the conversation. Hunter landed hard, fast and well right off the bat. He even tossed Povetkin to the mat in the first. Povetkin managed to hold on and keep his cool. Hunter’s jab worked well in the second – until he was caught by a Povetkin right. Although Hunter didn’t go down, the shot showed Povetkin could still be dangerous. The Russian looked strong in a close third round.
The fourth saw Povetkin land the better shots. He then went ahead and hurt his man in the fifth. Still, Hunter had a better time in the sixth. Both men exchanged strong, clean shots at the end of the seventh. Both men looked a bit tired in the eighth, though Hunter my have performed a bit more strongly than Povetkin. The Russian looked a bit drained in the ninth. Both men looked to be fatigued in the tenth. Hunter landed thunderous shots in the eleventh, making it seem as if Povetkin might actually go down. The final round saw both men fall down. Both men got up and, exhausted, made to the end of the round.
In order to present filler, a super middleweight bout then went down between the 20-15-5 Selemani Saidi and the 7-0 Deigo Pacheco. Needless to say, Pacheco stopped his man in the first.