Dillian Whyte is back in contention for the world heavyweight title after taking revenge on Alexander Povetkin with a fourth-round TKO victory on Saturday.
Whyte regained the interim WBC title after crushing Povetkin with a left hook at the Europa Point Sports Complex in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located at the southern tip of Spain.
Povetkin knocked out Whyte last August, but was unable to repeat the feat as he was defeated for the third time as a professional. His other two losses came on points to Wladimir Klitschko for the WBA, IBF and WBO titles in 2013 and by stoppage to Anthony Joshua for the same belts three years ago.
While Povetkin may consider retiring, Whyte has given his career a much-needed boost. However, with rival world champions Tyson Fury (WBC) and Joshua (WBA, IBF, WBO) in advanced talks about a two-fight deal, Whyte’s wait for a first world title shot will continue for some time.
“If he wants a rematch and it’s the right money, I’ll fight him again because he shouldn’t have lost the first time, I’m mad at myself,” Whyte said of Povetkin.
“From the first round I faced him, then I thought I needed to relax and not explode. He only lost to Klitschko and Joshua, that shows how good he is. I can beat anyone.”
This was a dangerous fight that must win for Whyte. Povetkin might be on the mend at 41, but in recent years he has shown that his power still makes him one of boxing’s top heavyweights. Last August, Povetkin (36-3-1, 25 KOs) recovered from two knockdowns in the fourth round to knock out Whyte with a left uppercut in the fifth.
The 32-year-old Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) simply couldn’t afford a third career loss, after being stopped by Joshua as well in 2015. The loss to Povektin cost Whyte first place in the queue for a shot at the WBC title, and dropped to No. 6 in that governing body’s rankings. The other three governing bodies don’t even rank Whyte in the top ten.
Saturday’s victory repairs the damage done to Whyte’s career last summer after beating the most experienced of heavyweight contenders.
“Tonight was about getting his career back on track, and tonight he showed that he was not going to be denied. We are back where we wanted to be and the goal remains the same: to give Dillian a world title shot.” “said Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, who expects Whyte to fight again in the summer.
Whyte, who moved from Jamaica to London at age 12, dropped his hands in the first round and Povetkin wobbled from two shots before recovering quickly.
Povektin, who had tested positive for COVID-19, causing the rematch to be delayed from November, saw a different side to Whyte in the second, as the Londoner patiently boxed with his jab.
Whyte hurt Povetkin with a right hand in the third round, and the English boxer came out with a swing in the fourth. Later in the fourth, Whyte staggered Povetkin with a one-two, and when the Russian stumbled into the ring, Whyte lunged with a right hook and a left hook. Povetin hit the mat, and when he got back up on shaky legs, the fight was cut short.
Afterward, Whyte went to find a stool for the stunned Povetkin to sit on before celebrating in front of a limited crowd of 500 due to coronavirus restrictions.
On the card, Campbell Hatton, son of former two-weight world champion Ricky Hatton, made a successful professional debut with a 40-36 point victory over Spaniard Jesús Ruiz (0-11). Hatton, 20, attacked the body like his father used to, winning every round in a four-round lightweight bout.
“I don’t think I have boxed my best. I think my nerves got to me; it can only get better next time,” Hatton said.
Ted Cheeseman (17-2-1, 10 KOs) claimed the British super welterweight title with a dramatic finish in an 11th round victory over James Metcalf (21-1, 13 KOs).
Cheeseman, a Londoner nicknamed “The Big Cheese,” hit a series of shots and finished off Metcalf with a left hook to the jaw at the end of the 11th.
English heavyweight Fabio Wardley (11-0, 10 KOs), coached by Ricky Hatton, scored a fifth-round knockout victory over 38-year-old Texan Eric Molina (27-7, 19 KOs). Molina, who was stopped by Joshua and Deontay Wilder on world title chances in 2016 and 2015, respectively, was fine until the 26-year-old Wardley battled the ropes to great effect.