By: Oliver McManus
It was revenge for Dillian Whyte on Saturday night as he rocked Alexander Povetkin to claim the interim WBC heavyweight world title. Real success came at the beginning of the fourth round for Whyte who had the Russian trembling on his legs. Two minutes later and Whyte had his man wobbling again. Povetkin was unstable, he hit the canvas, and Victor Loughlin had seen enough, waving the contest off just as the towel flew in from the Russian corner.
A world title shot for Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) seems unlikely anytime soon with Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk vs Joe Joyce supposedly getting the go ahead. With that in mind, it’s hard to see how Whyte can force himself into the situation but here’s three names that could see him do just that.
We’re yet to know what Deontay Wilder’s next move is but the former WBC titlist will no doubt be keen to regain his old belt. A win against Whyte, for the interim version, would put him in pole position. Whilst Wilder has plenty of middling Americans that he could return against, a fight with Whyte guarantees big money and big entertainment: the pair would surely slug it out from start to finish.
You could well make a case, too, that a win over Wilder (41-1-1, 41 KOs) would be Whyte’s best victory – regardless of the fashion in which Tyson Fury dismantled the American.
Eddie Hearn has been vocal in his desire to make the contest in America and the sincerity of that is clear to see. It’s a dangerous fight for both men but, actually, one you imagine Wilder is more reluctant to take.
Andy Ruiz is another former Champion looking to get back onto the path for titles but with a style, you suspect, suits Whyte. If the Brixton man boxes as he did on Saturday night, then Ruiz could see a similarly early night. Ruiz is in action against Chris Arreola on May 1st but this is a fight that could easily be made for early-Autumn.
Whyte likes to keep the action at short-range and Ruiz has a habit of peppering in at a close distance – it’s usually effective but Whyte is a different handful altogether. Ruiz (33-2, 22 KOs) clearly holds the biggest win of the available names but feels less of a threat than the huge heavy-handed punchers in the division. Whyte would have a real opportunity to impress against Ruiz… though I could be underestimating Ruiz for a second time.
The Best Of The Rest
There seems to be a real desire for Whyte to explore the American market having beaten most of the middle-ranking opponents available domestically and in Europe. Plenty of big fish are available and the only question on the table is whether they’d be willing to step in with Whyte: especially after a series of explosive wins.
Clearly, there are areas of Whyte’s game that quality fighters can exploit and you’d hope that would be enough to give the likes of Ruiz and Wilder confidence enough to ink the contract. If those big names don’t come straight away, then the likes of Charles Martin and Adam Kownacki edge easily into the conversation.
Of course, those two aren’t on the same level as Wilder or Ruiz but they are fighters who carry name recognition and give Whyte that opportunity to introduce himself to an American audience. Martin would likely be the better option, despite losing to Kownacki in September 2018, but that fight would be just a test to see how quickly Whyte can stop the American.
Obviously, there’s added intrigue, if you can call it that, as to whether he’d be able to do the job quicker than Joshua but that’s about the only selling point.
Having said all of that, would you bet against Eddie Hearn doing something a little sadistic and chucking Zhilei Zhang in with Dillian Whyte? I certainly wouldn’t.