The Elite Boxers in the Heavyweight Division
By: Oliver McManus
Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora produced the two best performances of the night on Saturday at the O2 Arena and with that set up the potential for super fights across the heavyweight division, here we take a look at the five ‘elite’ heavyweights in the world and assess their credentials before a subsequent article next week will look at five ‘contenders’ –
Anthony Joshua – WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO Heavyweight Champion of the World
Where else to start but the face of heavyweight boxing? Anthony Joshua is capable of selling out Wembley Stadium with just the mere mention of his name and his record in the sport is simply remarkable – a gold medallist at his home Olympics in 2012, the pressure was always going to be on but, boy, has he handled the pressure supremely.
The 12th of December 2015 saw emotion seep into his fight-mentality for the first time as he let the rivalry between Dillian Whyte and himself get the better of his, previously, cool and calculated game plan with Joshua drawn into a firefight. Arguably that was the best thing that ever happened to him because it brought out a completely different animal within him, the killer instinct was born.
Wladimir Klitschko was legacy defining, there can be no other way of putting it, and whilst that clash highlighted the fact AJ was mortal – hard to believe, I know – you simply cannot knock the Watford-man for taking on and pulling off a feat of monumental proportions that many had previously tried and failed in, in only his 19th professional bout.
Oddly you could say his stock has fallen or, rather, the gap has got closer between himself and his closest competitors over the weekend with Chisora destroying Carlos Takam in a fashion far more convincing than Joshua and Dillian Whyte dropping Joseph Parker – once legitimately, once questionably – on the way to a unanimous decision.
Joshua is a rare breed of fighter in that he is seemingly willing to fight anyone and up against Alexander Povetkin in September he faces, previously, one of the most feared heavyweights in the world and, certainly, a huge puncher but someone that should be a relatively easy fight over Joshua’s last few tests.
2019, then, is the year for Anthony Joshua to continue in his pursuit of ever-lasting greatness.
Deontay Wilder – WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World
The ‘Punch’ to Anthony Joshua’s ‘Judy’ – a reference which anyone outside of the UK will need to Google – Deontay Wilder has a rather reasonable claim to being the hardest puncher in the current heavyweight division and is famed for his “windmill” shots which, when unloaded, signal a trademark finish to the fight.
Questions have, rightfully, been raised at the quality of Wilder’s recent opponents with the likes of Chris Arreola, Bermane Stiverne (the second time) and Artur Szpilka not exactly screaming “world class” but, having said that, Wilder has consistently dispatched the people put in front of him in a fashion you’d expect from the WBC Champion of the World.
Against ‘King Kong’ Luis Ortiz in March this year, the American was in the toughest fight of his career and took the best that Ortiz threw at him. Whilst the fight was a strong 50-50 prior to the stoppage that the Bronze Bomber managed to pull out of the bag, the contest showed that Wilder was capable of taking a shot to land a shot and that is the phrase that best defines his style.
Even when in with the best, genuine elite level fighters, he sticks to what he does well and that, very simply, is PUNCH. Now some may argue that shows a weakness in ability to adapt to the styles of challengers and whilst that is something that could be his downfall in the future, it’s worked with tremendous success thus far.
Not necessarily a household name in the United States – indeed you could say he’s more well-known on this side of the pond than in his own backyard – you can understand the strategy from those around him of building him up with all-American match-ups (Dominic Brezeale is rumoured to be the next defence) which enable him to gain profile and keep the belt with, relatively, easy fights.
BUT then comes the question of why on earth should a world champion need to have his profile built up? The fight with Anthony Joshua is a fight that NEEDS to happen in order for Deontay Wilder to be able to put to bed questions regarding the legitimacy of his reign and, for many, we’ve still yet to see the WBC champ fully tested.
Dillian Whyte – WBC Number 1 ranked heavyweight contender
Whyte proved his doubters wrong on Saturday with a scintillating win over Joseph Parker, make no mistake, he was sincerely rocked and challenged by the former WBO Champion, dropped to the canvas at one point, but what was most impressive about taking the barrage of punches was that he proved his chin has developed far more than anything else since he faced Anthony Joshua in 2015 –we always knew he had the agility, the power, the energy, that was never in question.
It’s hard to believe that it’s 18 months since Whyte went to war with Dereck Chisora, winning a split decision, but that bout seems to be symbolic of the way he goes about every fight – with an attitude of “guts and glory”, leaving everything on the line, and that’s something you cannot criticise because it produces excitement galore.
Up against Robert Helenius, Whyte really failed to click into gear when in the ring with the Nordic Nightmare and whilst the fight wasn’t aesthetically pleasing it was a valuable lesson for the Brixton Bomber because it showed him that, sometimes, you can’t go all-out for a knockout and have to box around the opposition, out-working them and simply fatiguing them into defeat.
With Deontay Wilder having been offered a princely sum – a career high pay day – to face Whyte (in the United Kingdom) and turning it down, there can be no doubt as to the stature of Eddie Hearn’s fighter and the attributes he possess all point to him being a world-champion in waiting.
Mild controversy erupted when he, and his team, turned down fights with Luis Ortiz and Kubrat Pulev in world title eliminators with many saying he was ducking the respective fighters but the fight with Joseph Parker seems to have answered all the questions being lobbied at him because whilst Parker isn’t as explosive as Ortiz he is faster, he is more sprightly and he’s every bit as technical as Pulev so, in a way, he got the best of both worlds.
I wouldn’t have said it three years ago but Dillian Whyte has proved me, and many critics wrong, and I’m happy to hold my hands up with regards to that because it was never anything personal but, for me, Dillian Whyte is the best heavyweight outside of the world title holders.
AJ in April? Sounds like a plan.
Kubrat Pulev – IBF Number 2 ranked heavyweight contender
Pulev is an interesting character, vastly underrated by fans and extensively avoided by fellow fighters, his technical style of boxing is one that hasn’t exactly played into his hands because with him not being a HUGE puncher, his technical and defensive aspect are exponentially enhanced and it makes him one heck of a challenge for anyone brave enough to take him on.
Dillian Whyte opted not to travel to Bulgaria to face Pulev and Jarrell Miller is another to have avoided stepping into unknown territory for the fight – which the IBF sanctioned, in both cases, as a final eliminator – and it’s not the location that is the sticking point but rather the risk-reward factor which strayed significantly into the risk region.
As I’ve said, Pulev relies on the technical fundamentals not to blast his opponents out of the ring but rather to get the better of them in the longer run, over the scheduled distance, with calculated punch output, shot selection, and beautifully timed footwork culminating in style of fighting bordering on art but so under-appreciated.
Another fighter to have taken on Dereck Chisora, emerge from the fight win the win and be levied with headlines of “Chisora fails to perform” as opposed to “Pulev outclasses Chisora”, Pulev hasn’t been one to avoid fights for the duration of his career and as a former European champion the Bulgarian has produced convincing wins on the big stage for a long, long time with the likes of Alexander Dimitrenko, Alexander Ustinov and Tony Thompson all falling foul of The Cobra’s leathal bite.
A former world title challenger Pulev has the experience of that level and whilst he’s not looked as sharp as his previous years, since his loss to Klitschko (in 2014) he has looked mentally more prepared whenever he steps in the ring – albeit against lesser opposition – and many were expecting him to provide Anthony Joshua with a stern test when they were scheduled to face-off and with Pulev back in the world title scene, there could still be life in the ageing cobra yet.
Tyson Fury – Lineal heavyweight champion of the world
This isn’t wrote in any order so before anyone gets in a huff as to my positioning of Fury in this list – or indeed my inclusion of him at all – let me explain why the lineal champion is in this “elite” overview;
Whatever you think of his last opponent – Sefer Seferi – Tyson Fury was the man who beat the man and, in doing so, made Klitschko look average and that is an achievement that simply cannot be overstated, it was beyond unexpected and Fury produced the goods.
Further to that his mental strength is, for me, the best of anyone in the division. He has had several well documented struggles and, let’s be clear, earned more than enough money for him to afford to retire and live comfortably for the rest of his life. So there was no need for Fury to comeback, he had proved his doubters wrong, but it was his inner motivation to prove that he was better than Joshua, better than Wilder, better than everyone that pushed him to return and lose 8stone in the process. That’s super-human.
Fury himself is unconventional in fighting style with the ability to switch stances with ease combined with his freakish height and surprisingly lucid movement marking him out as one of the most unpredictable men in the ring – one second he’ll be staring out into the crowd and the next launching a furious flurry into the body of his opponent.
And that is what marks him out from the other guys on this list because whilst they are all exceptional fighters in their own right, they are distinctly predictable – you know what you’re getting with each of them – but with Fury you get the impression that not even he knows. He’s no stranger to being an underdog, either, and dealing with the pressure of fighting in the away corner so his ability to handle those situations are incredible.
Fighting Francesco Pianeta on August 18th, Fury is targeting two further fights by the end of 2018 before mounting a serious challenge to the belts he used to own and with discussions already being held about the potential for a fight with Deontay Wilder, you’d be inclined to suggest it’s only a matter of time before he’s back where he belongs.
AND THERE WE HAVE IT, a look at the heavyweight elite boxers and of course the use of the term elite is entirely subjective, it’s merely my top 5 and there are plenty of guys that could have warranted being featured but, hey, nobody said it was easy!
Dillian Whyte Withstands a Final Minute Storm to Solidify #1 Status
By: Ste Rowen
Dillian Whyte overcame a last-minute onslaught from Joseph Parker to win a unanimous 12-round decision and stamp down his status as the number one heavyweight challenger.
Now 24-1 (17KOs), Whyte was by far and away the more active of the two fighters. The former British champion was walking down the New Zealander for the majority of the fight. In the 2nd round the two heavyweights appeared to awkwardly clash heads, which forced Parker into losing his balance and hitting the canvas. The referee scored it a knockdown for Whyte, and whether it dented Joseph’s morale or really did affect him physically, the knockdown set the tone for the majority of the fight. Dillian piled on the pressure, and Parker appeared to be waiting for his arms to do something of their own accord.
The former WBO champ fired off a wayward combination here and there but the O2 arena crowd were not getting the performance they expected from the 24-1 (18KOs) fighter. Into the 9th and the ‘Body Snatcher’, Whyte, landed a brutal left hook, which sent Parker sprawling to the floor.
This time there was no doubt about it being a knockdown.
That 10-8 round appeared to make it conclusive in favour of Dillian. The question now seemed to be whether the Brixton fighter would push on for the stoppage or settle for a points win.
Joseph had other things in mind as a rally from him rattled Whyte in the penultimate round. Then in the 12th, Parker dropped the home fighter with a right hand, but it was just too little, too late. Whyte was in trouble, but he held on until the final bell, and both boxers looked as if they knew the result straight away.
The final scorecards were 113-111, 115-110, 114-111, all in favour of Whyte.
‘‘It was a good fight.’’ Said Dillian later. ‘‘Parker’s slick. We knew he was gonna cheat his way through and fight in the last couple of rounds. I’m just annoyed I messed up at the final hurdle… I got rocked, I took a knee. The referee started at 4, I thought he started at 2, he went ‘4’, I was like ‘s***’, I didn’t have time to get up, but I got up so I’m learning.’’
Parker was buoyant in defeat,
‘‘I got 12 rounds to fight, I gave it my best, the other man won but I’m always gonna come back stronger…This is just the beginning.’’
So, what’s next for arguably, the best heavyweight outside of the world title holders,
‘‘I’d like to fight Joshua again in the rematch but there’s still a lot of things to work on, but if he wants it he can have it. I’m the ‘Can-Man’…I might get out again in October, September. I don’t wanna wait that long (Until Joshua’s already scheduled April 2019 date). I’m still inexperienced, I still make a lot of mistakes. So, one more fight between then would be great.’’
Dereck Chisora vs. Carlos Takam
‘‘This was very tough.’’ The words of Dereck Chisora, now 29-8 (21KOs) after his come from behind, 8th round KO-victory over Carlos Takam.
The two African-born fighters went at it from the 1st minute, but it was the Cameroonian-born boxer in Takam, that established the upper hand in the early rounds. Chisora seemed to be stuck to the ropes the first 3 minutes as Carlos landed huge hooks that looked as if he was setting up an early finish.
Dereck survived though, and even strangely refused to sit down in between rounds when told to by trainer, Don Charles. But the former world title challenger continued to take heavy, accumulative punches. Then came the 8th round however, and despite continuing to be the dominant fighter, Takam, 35-4-1 (27KOs) heading into tonight, received a massive overhand right to the temple from the Brit. He was floored, got up and then took an almost identical second right hand which sent him back down and forced the referee into calling an end to the bout. Dereck Chisora is now the WBA ‘International’ heavyweight champion and officially, back in the mix.
‘‘I realised I couldn’t trade with him toe-to-toe. I knew the overhand right was gonna catch him but I could not chuck it in the early rounds cos I knew I’d be left open. So, on that round (Round 8) something in my mind just said ‘You know what? It’s time to send it home. ’’
‘‘I bet you any money I win fight of the year with this fight.’’
‘‘It’s up to these fans who they wanna see me fight. I’ll say names, but I know really and truly they come out and go the other way round. They don’t wanna fight me. I’m 34 but I feel 21 right now.’’
Nick Webb vs. David Allen
Dave Allen, now 14-4-2 (11KOs), surprised everyone with a 4th round, one-punch KO of the previously unbeaten, Nick Webb.
Webb was dominating the bout, even through to round 4, but Allen timed a devastating right hand to send Nick flying through the ropes and springboard Allen, who just a few weeks ago was contemplating retirement, into Lonsdale belt contention.
Dillian Whyte vs. Joseph Parker Preview
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.
Dillian Whyte vs. Joseph Parker Announced for July 28th
By: Oliver McManus
LAST NIGHT we were made aware of a press conference for Dillian Whyte and an unnamed opponent – clearly, then, the Kubrat Pulev fight would not materialise. Dan Rafael from ESPN reported it was Luis Ortiz who would step in and go to war with The Body Snatcher.
Then rumours swirled about Joseph Parker – who had previously signed to fight Bryant Jennings – but David Higgins, Parker’s promoter, refuted these claims as “just hot air”. The rumour seemed to subside but if we’ve learnt anything from Higgins it’s that he’s a crafty old fox.
Photo Credit: Dillian Whyte Twitter Account
Come the announcement this morning at about 09.15 UK time – unseasonably early – we got the big fight; Dillian Whyte vs Joseph Parker, CONFIRMED, for July 28th at the O2 Arena.
The Pulev fight was an IBF eliminator, the Ortiz fight an eliminator for the WBC and whilst this bout holds no official status it is, arguably, Whyte’s best chance to look elite. Let’s not forget, how could we, that Parker was the first man to ever stretch the imperious, impenetrable Anthony Joshua to a full 12 rounds.
Whyte, no doubt, will be looking to better Joshua’s performance by dispatching with his Kiwi opponent in double-quick time and, in doing so, really staking a claim that “hey, look at me now”. Forget 2015, forget that first fight with AJ, Whyte will be wanting to force Anthony into taking notice of him with a performance to make the world stand up.
Parker, on the other hand, will see this as his chance of redemption and a simple route back to the top of the heavyweight scene – Jennings would have been an easier payday, a smaller payday mind, with less reward for the former WBO titlist but a win over Whyte unlocks a whole plethora of things not least the coveted ranking positions.
If Parker comes over in the same polite, respectful manner as he did against Joshua and managers to defy the expectations in beating Dillian Whyte then he establishes a fan-base in Britain and the potential for even bigger money fights.
Eddie Hearn has gone on record as saying he wants to build a “huge card” for this date in order to justify the Box Office, PPV, status but make no mistake this fight alone is worthy enough such an occasion;
Joseph Parker and Dillian Whyte are, arguably, the two best non-title holders in heavyweight boxing and, so, to see the pair square off when both had other options, is something to look forward to because there will be no lack of aggression in the ring – this will be a proper fight where both men take shots in order to enact their game-plan.
Pulev would have been a, relatively, boring fight with Whyte trying to entice Pulev out of his defensive shell and who knows what Deontay Wilder took out of the aging Luis Ortiz?
THIS IS A FIGHT.
Add to that Kell Brook on the undercard, expected anyway, alongside Daniyar Yeleussinov and you get a night of action that you simply cannot miss.
Love him or loath him, there’s no denying that Eddie Hearn keeps on pulling out fight after fight.
HBO Boxing After Dark Results: Dillian Whyte Stops Lucas Browne
By: Ste Rowen
Dillian ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte sent a cold message to the rest of the heavyweight scene with a savage one punch knockout of unbeaten Australian, Lucas Browne at London’s O2 Arena.
It was a tentative start from the first bell even as Browne developed a cut late in the round on his left eye. Whyte took over from thereafter though with the cleaner, more precise punching. Browne seemed to be without a game plan, plodding forwards without any obvious intent and no sign of the power he promised to bring pre-fight.
Into the 5th round Whyte was firmly on top, working behind the jab to pick at the cut on Browne’s eye and by now, his busted nose. Then in the 6th round, Whyte fired off a brutal left hook which sent Browne, face first onto the canvas.
Without little hesitation the referee waved it off and Whyte’s celebration became slightly muted as the medics rushed into the ring.
Thankfully, Browne got to his feet and the attention could turn back once again to the victor, in Dillian Whyte, now 23-1 (17KOs) and his future.
‘Hopefully Lucas Browne’s okay,’ said Whyte, ‘I’m a good fighter but no one has seen it yet. I might not have 22 knockouts but I can crack…When they stand up in front of me it’s a different story.’
‘I wanna bring pain, my left hook is back. When I landed I walked away straight away ‘cause I knew that was that.’
The WBC silver champion will now turn his attention firmly to the current titlists, either WBC champion Deontay Wilder or the winner of next week’s unification showdown between WBA & IBF champ, Anthony Joshua and WBO holder, Joseph Parker in Cardiff.
‘Deontay Wilder where you at? June? Where you at Wilder let’s go! No more excuses! I’m number one baby let’s go! People are tired of Deontay Wilder fighting these halfway guys.’
On a potential rematch with Joshua,
‘Joshua want it? I don’t care. I wanna fight Joshua another 3, 4 times in my career.’
On the undercard…
Commonwealth light heavyweight champion Callum ‘The One’ Johnson scored the biggest surprise of the night when he stopped British champion, Frank Buglioni in the 1st round. Johnson, 17-0 (12KOs), coming off an 18-month injury layoff, came out firing and once one landed, Buglioni couldn’t do enough to keep the challenger for the Lonsdale belt off him. Callum had already knocked Buglioni down once before he sent his foe sprawling backwards again on unsure legs and the referee called an end to the fight just before, Buglioni’s trainer, Don Charles threw in the towel. The win blows the British light heavyweight scene wide open now with most of the talk before tonight’s bout being about who Frank face next; Now it’s all about where Callum goes from here with the likes of Anthony Yarde, Bob Ajisafe and even fellow gym mate, Hosea Burton pining for a chance at the British.
With the British lightweight belt on the line, Lewis ‘Sandman’ Ritson faced off against the former British champion, Scott Cardle in the ‘Sandman’s’ second defence. After an impressive all-action 1st round from the challenger, Ritson proved the more ruthless and efficient of the two men. Taking a more composed approach to the 2nd; working behind a strong jab, the champion landed a heavy left hook that left Cardle staggering backwards into the ropes forcing the referee to give Scott an 8-count. Ritson then put his foot down, landing power shot after power shot until Cardle’s corner threw in the towel.
In one of the earliest fights of the night, Dereck Chisora, now 28-8 (20KOs) knocked out Frenchman, Zakaria Azzouzi in the 2nd round of a woeful matchup. Fans were hopeful that Dereck would now move onto to a bout with David Haye protégé, Joe Joyce, on the HayeBellew2 undercard, although post-fight when Haye offered the fight once again to Chisora, Dereck laid out his terms,
‘If he (Joe Joyce) beats me you write me a cheque of £1. If I beat him, you give me your purse against Tony (Bellew) and your tv rights.’
To which Haye simply replied, ‘No.’
Highly rated welterweight prospect, Chris Kongo endured 6 difficult rounds with Serge Ambomo to move to 8-0 (6KOs) after picking up 60-55 victory. Ambomo, now 6-6 (2KOs) is, as Carl Froch put it in commentary, part of the ‘Who needs ‘em club?’ and although it wasn’t pretty, Kongo will have learnt a great deal, along the way to picking up another win.
And finally, Anthony Fowler scored a very dubious 5th round stoppage of unbeaten Frenchman, Kalilou Dembele to move to 5-0 (4KOs). Dembele was down in the 2nd and then again in the 5th but seemed perfectly capable of carrying on before referee, Bob Williams waved it off, despite protests from Kalilou. Fowler will be out again next month on the Khan vs Lo Greco card in Liverpool against an unnamed opponent.
HBO Boxing After Dark Preview: Dillian Whyte vs. Lucas Browne
By: Ste Rowen
Following the madness of Wilder vs Ortiz in New York, and the anticipation of the upcoming Joshua vs Parker unification bout, you may be forgiven for forgetting about a potential barn stormer in between, in the form of Dillian Whyte v Lucas Browne. The two face-off this weekend at London’s O2 arena in a fight that should set the winner up for a world title shot.
Last time out, the two heavyweight contenders had very different match-ups.
The WBC number one contender, Dillian Whyte, 22-1 (16KOs) took on Robert Helenius for the ‘not-so-coveted’ WBC silver title on the undercard of Joshua v Takam. For 12 labouring rounds, Dillian went in search of his opponent as the Swede evaded Whyte’s attack, but never replied with his own offense. The Brit’s accuracy was substandard that night, and way below the standard he set for himself in his fight of the year contender vs Dereck Chisora just less than a year earlier.
Just like the Chisora fight, October’s clash with Helenius went to the scorecards and though it saw Whyte pick up a comprehensive unanimous decision victory, it was a performance that did very little to help him entice new fans. However, a lack lustre performance has done nothing to deter Whyte’s belief in himself, or his eagerness to knockout his Australian foe,
‘I can’t wait, I hate Lucas Browne and I want to hurt him. He’s said some nasty things and he’s going to have to pay for them.’
‘If I don’t knock him out I will not be happy…Beating him should make me a mandatory challenger. I’m highly ranked across the board. I’ll be a more than credible world title challenger.’
In stark contrast, Lucas ‘Big Daddy’ Browne’s last fight was his return fight from a number of disputed failed drug tests that followed his come from behind 2016 victory over Ruslan Chagaev in Chechnya, for the WBA ‘Regular’ belt.
Browne, 25-0 (22KOs) knocked out no-hoper, Matt Greer in the second round at the Punchbowl social club, Sydney, a world away from Saturday’s night venue. The fight told us very little about where Browne is at since his impressive victory over Chagaev 14 months earlier. That bout saw Browne knocked down and cut before steamrolling through the Uzbek in the 10th with continuous right hooks.
That should’ve been the break out fight that setup potential showdowns with the likes of Wilder, Joshua, or even the not yet retired Wladimir Klitschko, but instead Brown returned two positive tests for clenbuterol and then eight months later, a positive sample for ostarine, for which Browne has tried to explain was from a pre-workout he took without checking the contents.
The 38-year-old is now ready to put the past few years behind him and get back on track for a world title shot,’
‘It’s a very silly fight for him. Being number one ranked, to take on someone like me who is a big puncher, I think it’s a very silly fight, but for me it’s perfect. He’s got rankings across the board as well, not just the WBC so I’m extremely happy for this fight.’
Browne isn’t the only one with a questionable record when it comes to drugs. Whyte was suspended for two years back in 2012 when he tested positive for a banned stimulant. Like Browne, Dillian claimed it was due to a supplement he took without properly checking the ingredients.
Concentrating on the two fighter’s actual boxing skills though, this has the potential to be a very gruelling but ugly fight. Neither fights with much concern for defence or seems to bothered about wasting shots, which seems strange for Browne who does have a tendency to cut easily, a weakness Whyte will jump on if the Australian does sustain a meaningful cut early on.
Whyte of course has been knocked out, his sole defeat coming at the hands of WBA & IBF champion Anthony Joshua back in 2015 for the British title, and in his two biggest fights since, Whyte has had to come through adversity against Chisora and briefly in the Helenius fight when he was shaken by a left hook. So, if Browne’s power is legit, he should be able to significantly test Whyte’s chin more than once through 12 rounds of action.
For the winner, a world title shot should be next. For the loser, heavyweight obscurity could await. Proving there’s a lot more than rivalry on the line on Saturday.
On the undercard…
Just a month on from his devastating first round stoppage of Joe Murray, Lewis Ritson, 14-0 (8KOs) returns to the ring for his second defence of his British lightweight belt against Scott Cardle, 22-1 (7KOs). Ritson’s currently on a five fight KO streak, and though heavily favoured against Cardle, it will be a real statement from the Newcastle native if he can score another stoppage victory.
Frank Buglioni, 21-2-1 (15KOs) will defend his British light heavyweight title for the third time against mandatory challenger, Callum Johnson. With the likes of Anthony Yarde, Hosea Burton and Bob Ajisafe waiting in the wings for a shot at the British, Johnson, 16-0 (11KOs) will be hoping to end the constant talk of potential future fights for Buglioni.
The aforementioned Dereck Chisora, 27-8 (19KOs) is also a late addition to the card in what is expected to be a stay busy 8-rounder, since his majority decision loss to European champion, Agit Kabayel in Monaco last November.
Dillian Whyte: From Kickboxer to Boxing Novice to World Champion?
By: Jacob Tanswell
As it stands, Dillian Whyte is a massive player in the heavyweight picture. From a kickboxing background, with next to nothing ameteur pedigree, Dillian Whyte is on the unlikely verge of a world title challenge and a chance to catapult himself into British Boxing stardom.
Last saturday, on US network “Showtime” the WBC champion Deontay Wilder was interviewed after his sensational first round KO of Bermaine Stiverne. Before the inevitable “when are you gonna fight Joshua” question was asked, Jim Gray brought up the subject of fighting Dillian Whyte to Wilder. That, in itself, highlights how far the Brixton based fighter has come. From boxing obscurity, Dillian Whyte is now considered a tough test for anyone whether it’s from these shores or across the pond.
Unlike many champions, Whyte was never touted to be the next great heavyweight hope. Instead, that label was planted on others, with far more ametuer pedigree, such as David Price. Initially, with little recognition, Whyte began his professional career boxing on small hall shows, trying to earn himself a living, in order to provide for his children, at which he had at very young. Whilst all the hype was focussed on others, Whyte kept battling away, trying to get himself in the frame to earn himself a shot at the British Title.
After many trials and tribulations, including a drug ban, in 2015 Dillian Whyte was suddenly elevated into the big time, preparing to renew his rivalry with the country’s national treasure, Anthony Joshua and play the villain. Since fighting against one another in 2009, as fresh inexperienced amateurs, the pair built up a deep hatred for one another. Over the course of 6 years, that bad feeling between both never went away and was quietly simmering in the background. This was until, as professionals, they went head to head again, competing for the belt Whyte so badly craved, the famous Lonsdale Belt; along with the underlying jealousy that Joshua had been giving more respect and admiration from the public than himself, Whyte realised he had to seize this chance in order for him to fulfill his goals in this massive box office domestic showdown.
However, after a brave, valiant effort, Whyte was beaten.But he had given the heavy favourite his toughest test to date and his stock instantly grew. Since the fight, Whyte has received backing from Eddie Hearn and the Sky platform which has increased exposure and gave him the necessary fights to increase his profile. As we speak, he is arguably one of the most well known boxers in the UK and is on the cusp of securing a multi million pound deal to fight for a version of the heavyweight title, through the dealings of Hearn to secure a mega fight at the O2 on February the 3rd, which has already been pencilled in.
Through the combination of his rivalry with Joshua,his deeply extroverted personality and his underlying “street fighter” mentality, the Jamaican born heavyweight has thrusted himself into the elite, and is willing to fight anyone. The man who came from nothing is now in the big time. How far can this underdog story go? Contender? World Champion? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, Dillian Whyte will give himself the opportunity to achieve that.
Wilder v Whyte: A First Assessment
Wilder v Whyte: A First Assessment
By: Ben Sutherland
In a recent interview with IFL, Eddie Hearn expressed his desire to get his man Dilian Whyte a shot at Deontay Wilder’s WBC title. The Londoner, who rose to prominence through his scrap with Joshua back in 2015, has been hovering below the world level for some time. Whyte’s clash with Dereck Chisora at the end of last year cemented him as a household name in the UK. His aggressive manner inside and outside of the ring have given him the role of the villain amongst the British public, something which he seems to be relishing.
His profile combined with Hearn’s backing means the fight can produce the type of revenue sufficient enough to entice a big name like Wilder over to the UK. If Wilder is trying to build toward a Joshua fight, Whyte is a great stepping stone, he’s objectively easier work and provides a nice potential pay day. Wilder publicly rejected Hearn’s first advances but, in a hypothetical world where the two men clashed, could Whyte actually win?
The 6ft 7 undefeated American is one of the toughest fights out there. He is aggressive, athletic, and above all else carries serious power, having stopped a staggering 37 of his 38 opponents before the final bell. His technical ability has at times, left a lot to be desired, often throwing wild and unwieldy punches more reminiscent of the UFC than a world class boxer. Up to this point, the quality of his opponents has been such that he has been able to get away with his technical holes. Through sheer power and athleticism he has blasted his opponents out of there. This is perhaps the biggest criticism one could make of Wilder thus far: his record lacks a credible name worthy of his world champion status.
Should he come up against a man with a good chin, who is experienced at the level and technically sound, there are questions which are currently unanswered.
Whyte is best known as the man who rocked Anthony Joshua. At the time, he took him far further than anyone else had. In what is a relatively rare occurrence in boxing, Whyte walked away from the defeat with a better reputation and profile than before. This reputation was bolstered when it was revealed that Whyte had been crippled by a shoulder injury in the build-up. This led to speculation that his power could improve following a surgery to repair his injury. However, since that fight he has struggled. He has four more wins on his record but they were far from impressive. First, he beat Iva Bacurin, a no name Croatian with 12 losses on his record. He then fought an out of shape Dave Allen who took him the distance. He then fought Ian Lewison, who was in even poorer condition. Lewison retired on his stool in the 11th but it was hardly an impressive win. Then he had a massive domestic showdown with fellow Londoner, Dereck Chisora. In a fight which captured the attention of the public through its fiery build up, Whyte won a controversial split decision. The power he showed against Joshua has subsequently been missing. One might theorize after the Klitscko fight that Joshua’s chin is more suspect than we think and perhaps Whyte’s power isn’t what we previously thought.
Meanwhile, Wilder has struggled to find quality opponents in years. Bermane Stiverne, the man from whom he won his WBC title, is probably the best name on his record. Malik Scott, Eric Molina, Arreola and most recently Washington are all decent heavyweights but far from elite fighters and as a result he remains untested at the highest level. One could postulate that this is because he is avoiding the big names as he doesn’t want to risk losing his belt before his big payday against Joshua. His recent social media posts rejecting the fight with Whyte provide us with possible evidence of this.
Wilder had a relatively brief amateur career in which he rose through the ranks quickly. He has a good number of professional fights but good pro fights don’t necessarily prepare you for elite pro fights. It isn’t especially surprising that Stiverne who has been his only remotely world class test to date, took him the distance. He is raw, he is erratic and there are holes in his game that a technical boxer with a good chin can find. However, he is exceptionally talented, athletic and powerful and there is nothing to indicate he can’t be a world beater, he just hasn’t got the record to confirm it.
Mike Tyson said of the Alabamian champ, “Let’s see what happens when he gets hit back”, Dilian Whyte would most certainly hit him back. Whyte is a sound technician, but he is more than happy to stand and trade. Having gone toe to toe with Joshua, he certainly won’t be intimidated by Wilder. He is smaller but he is a real handful. If Wilder truly thought he was light work then the contract with a $3 million purse attached would already be signed.
Wilder has been in trouble away from the ring having been arrested for domestic assault in 2013 and again recently, charged with possession of marijuana. Whyte, who has a track record of inciting incidents in build ups to fights could no doubt get under Wilder’s skin, potentially impacting his performance in the ring.
Based on what we know about the two men thus far, either is capable of winning this fight. If Whyte takes him to the trenches like he has done in his other big name fights, this has the potential to be a real barn burner. For my money, Wilder’s power wins out over Whyte’s in that set of circumstances. However, if Whyte fights off the jab and boxes in a technically proficient manner, his chin is good enough that he could take Wilder into unchartered territory.
On balance, Wilder is bigger and more explosive with a spotless track record and as a result he is the favorite. But, the man from south London isn’t going down without a fight and questions about Wilder’s experience level mean his victory is by no means guaranteed.
Dillian Whyte Flags a Possible Next Opponent and Signals WBC Title Ambitions
Dillian Whyte Flags a Possible Next Opponent and Signals WBC Title Ambitions
By: G.E. Simons
Dillian Whyte has confirmed his interest in facing former WBC world champion Bermane Stiverne, in what could provide a final eliminator for the right to challenge current WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder.
Whyte’s options became more interestingfollowinghis wafer thin victory over Dereck Chisora in their chief supporting clash on the Joshua/Molinacard in Manchester, England on 10th December.
Theirs was always going to be the fight most likely to ignite the Warehouse City night, before Anthony Joshua offered Eric Molina the opportunity to take a look at his IBF belt and enjoy a payday as part of his visit to the once industrial north – and so it was.
The dark vaudeville of the build up saw glasses of SKY Sports water thrown, press conference tables flipped and see-you-outside threats made, that ominously suggested the violence might be taken out of the workplace and into a far more domestic argument.
So it was no surprise that the fight itself played out with a brutal intensity reminiscent of a brawl between cuckolded steelworkers on a gravel car park illuminated by the headlights of parked up big rigs.
It was a great domestic settler, borne of genuine needle between two very similar fighters but at very different stages of their careers. The action confirmed the pugnacity that we know Chisora possesses and rubber-stampedthe toughness of Whytewhich we witnessed in his defeat to Anthony Joshua.
Dereck Chisora is unsurprisingly keen on a rematch because it sure was close, but a replay offersonly the revenues it will generate rather than the athletic challenge or the chess board move it represents for him career wise.
Chisora now finds himself check mated in the ‘bloody good opponent’ category for any rising young prospect and one who, for the next 24 months at least, will provide a searching examination of his opponent’s heart, chin and will to win.
Whyte however has now passed that examination, enjoys a #9 WBC ranking and payday aside, has no conceivable motivation to be re-examined by Del Boy.
Stiverne, the Las Vegas based Haitian, possesses a credible record in contemporary heavyweight terms, consisting of 25 wins with 21 stoppages, a single draw and just two defeats. The last of which being a defiant unanimous decision loss to Wilder in 2015, where the WBC title changed hands.
Since that loss Stiverne rebounded with an unremarkable points victory over professional opponent DerricRossy at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
ADecember 17thdate in Ekaterinburg, Russia with Alexander Povetkin to contest the WBC Interim title was next.
20 hours before the ring walks Povetkin returned positive results for the muscle-building substance obstarine, from tests taken on 6th December.
The WBC withdrew its sanctioning.
Andrey Ryabinsky,Povetkin’s promoter described the positive test as “not clear where it came from.”
Stiverne flew home to Las Vegas, saying “There’s no reason to fight if the WBC won’t sanction the bout.”
Povetkinscored a 6th round knock out of late replacement Johann Duhaupas in a then dubious and pointless work out.
A new sample provided by the Russian to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) a week after the original tests, returned a negative result
Povetkin has retained his #1 WBC ranking and is back in the mix, but the latest complications offerDillian Whyte the potential for real progression within the World Boxing Council landscape by slipping in to secure a fight with the man-sized, #2 rankedBermaneStiverne.
Elsewhere, the WBC ranks recent Matchroom Boxing acquisition Luis Ortiz at #3 and an active KubratPulev at #4, who also offer potentially interesting match ups for Whyte from within the WBC talent pool.
Whoever the opponent, Whyte appears to have wisely aligned himself with a sanctioning body in the WBC, where just one more fight could open the door to a crack at a title that connects Muhammed Ali to Larry Holmes to Mike Tyson to Lennox Lewis, against a current holder in Deontay Wilder who remains strangely disconnected from the general heavyweight discussion.
Best 10 Boxing Fights of 2016
Best 10 Boxing Fights of 2016
By: Jordan Seward
With the new year approaching it’s time to reflect on the best boxing action of 2016, so in no particular order….
Orlando Salido vs Francisco Vargas
The two Mexicans treated us to a classic right up to the final bell for Vargas’ (23-0-2) WBC World Super Featherweight title. Vargas, coming off the back of Fight of the Year for 2015 faced a true, steely warrior in the 36-year-old Salido (43-13-4). It was a back-and-fourth slug fest between two champions who don’t know when to quit. In the end the pair couldn’t be separated and the judges correctly scored it a draw.
Tony Bellew vs Ilunga Makabu
The real life rocky story that saw Bellew (28-2-1) finally crowned a world champion. Just after starring in the new rocky film ‘The Bomber’ got his third bite at the cherry facing a dangerous and feared Congolese who had chalked up 18 knockouts in 19 fights. A packed crowed inside his beloved Everton football club’s stadium were stunned when Makabu (19-2) sent Bellew rolling over at the end of the first. The Everton man climbed off the canvas Balboa esque and rallied to stop Makabu in the third with a flourish of heavy punches to claim the vacant WBC World Cruiserweight strap.
Dillian Whyte vs Dereck Chisora
This one had it all. Filled with controversy from the start these two Heavyweights threw everything but the kitchen sink. A table was thrown though. At a press conference. Which, as a result meant the British title wasn’t on the line. But after all the talk, the bad mouthing and the attempted scrapping Whyte (20-1) and Chisora (26-7) done it properly in the ring and fought out a clean and action-packed-12-rounder. Both men were rocked and absorbed a lot of punishment, but Whyte’s superior stamina was just about enough to nick it for him on the judges’ scorecard by split decision.
Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter
Thurman (27-0) was getting in the ring with probably the best opponent he’s faced. The only man to previously have defeated Porter (26-2-1) was Kell Brook, but, in a fierce competitive fight, Thurman successfully defended his WBA World Welterweight title dishing out Porter’s second loss of his career with a 115-113 unanimous decision. Although the announcement was greeted by booing, the stats suggested Thurman deservedly had his hand raised at the end, landing 43.6% of his punches while his opponent made 35.6%.
Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev
The fight that everyone scored differently. It was a fight we all wanted as soon as Ward made the jump up from Super-Middleweight. The defensive suave of Ward (31-0) met the aggressive power of ‘The Krusher’ (30-1-1) at the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas. The American, fighting on home turf, was put down in the second round for only the second time in his illustrious career. But Ward, as Ward does, after falling behind on the cards managed to take the second half of the fight and claim Kovalev’s WBO, IBF and WBA Super World Light Heavyweight titles by unanimous decision.
Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz
After unifying his IBF super-bantamweight title by outpointing Scott Quigg, the Northern Irishmen capped off his impressive year by adding Leo Santa Cruz’s (32-1-1) WBA Super World Featherweight belt. ‘The Jackal’ (23-0) jumped up a weight division and battled it out with the Mexican champion in an absolute barn burner. After a hard and punishing 12 rounds it went to the judges’ scorecards and Frampton, was given the nod. Now, just for us, they’re doing it all again at the MGM Grand on the 28th January. Not a bad way to start the new year.
Hosea Burton vs Frank Buglioni
Words were exchanged between the pair in what was a heated build up to this Light-Heavyweight contest for the British title. But when the fighting started it quickly turned in to a very watchable and enjoyable scrap. Both Burton (18-1) and Buglioni (19-2-1) continuously plowed forwards, in attempts to assert their dominance. They were both taking serious damage and in the twelfth-round Burton’s chickens came home to roost. The 28-year-old was slowing down and deserved to hear the final bell but with just one minute left in the bout Buglioni landed some hurtful blows and the ref waved it off.
Thomas Williams Jr. vs Edwin Rodriguez
A fiery, hard fought contest… while it lasted. At the StubHub Center, on the undercard of Andre Berto’s knockout win against Victor Ortiz, Rodriguez, (28-2) displayed courage, grit, determination, and, a chin. In this two-rounder, it was Williams Jr (20-2) who was landing the more powerful and hurtful shots but a number of times Rodriguez remained upright and proudly came firing back. In the end, it took a monster left hook to knock the resolute 31-year-old out.
Gennady Golovkin vs Kell Brook
As far as unexpected fights go, this one took the biscuit. You couldn’t have called it. This was not a fight many had in mind, but, when it was made it was all the talk. The IBF World Welterweight champion, Brook, jumped up two weight division to face the feared Middleweight kingpin at the O2 Arena. Looking in great shape and as confident as ever the Englishman made a great start to the fight. However, as the fight went on we began to realise Brook wouldn’t be making history as Golovkin’s power started to take its toll and Brook’s trainer, Dominic Ingle threw in the towel stopping proceedings in the fifth round.
Anthony Crolla vs Ismael Barroso
After prizing away the WBA World Lightweight title from Darleys Perez in their second meeting, Crolla, (31-5-3)made his first defence against the man who, effectively, sent world title challenger Kevin Mitchell into retirement. As expected, the Venezuelan (19-1-2) started strong and, typical of a Joe Gallagher fighter, Crolla did not. He absorbed some early punishment and probably lost the first five rounds. It became clear after six though, that Crolla’s tactics were spot on, as the challenger noticeably began to tire. He had thrown all he had and was on empty, Crolla seized his chance and overwhelmed his opponent, eventually stopping him in the seventh.