Dillian Whyte emerged victorious in his high stakes rematch with Alexander Povetkin for the WBC Interim Heavyweight Title. Back in August the two had fought an exciting back and forth fight that saw Povetkin on the canvas twice only to rally back and knock Whyte out with a single blow. This fight had been delayed due to COVID-19 and Povetkin turned 41 in the lead up but this was expected to be a very close and tough to pick fight. Originally the two were set to rematch in November only three months after the brutal KO and I wondered if that was really enough time for Whyte to recover and get back in the gym and prepare. Whyte entered the fight a little lighter than their initial encounter and Povetkin put on a few pounds. What played out in the ring was a dominant performance from Whyte and a flat and ineffective outing for Povetkin.
In the opening minute of the fight Whyte scored a right hand that had Povetkin stumbling around the ring and unable to get his footing. Whyte pushed the action and it looked like Povetkin was in some early danger but on closer examination it appeared that he was more off balance than anything. Povetkin struggled all fight to get his footing, find his range, and initiate any effective offense. While he did his usual ducking and slipping to get inside and turning of the hips and shoulders to generate power on his hooks, he was too slow and lacked explosiveness. He was rarely able to get in the right position to score the blows he needed to in order to turn the tide. Whyte to his credit did a lot of things right in this fight in contrast to their initial encounter last August. Whyte countered effectively and fought at a range that did not allow Povetkin to turn it into a war. Whyte also played his hand well so to speak, he followed up his advantage when he needed to and sensed danger and hung back when it made sense to do so. Interestingly, Whyte was mostly effective behind his right hand while he has normally been a left hand type of fighter. His jab was effective but not constant and though the left hook was the finisher, his right hand did the dirty work. He often employed a pull counter type of right hand down the middle that was incredibly effective in scoring, keeping Povetkin stuck at range, and setting up opportunities to follow up.
It took until the second round for Povetkin to score with anything meaningful as he started with a left hook. At the end of the round he scored an overhand right and I felt that was enough to carry the round. I had it 29-28 for Whyte heading into the fourth round but it is also fine to have the fight 30-27 as many judges would likely have scored the second round to Whyte. Whyte hurt Povetkin immediately in the fourth round with a right hand but hung back rather than run into anything. Povetkin survived for about two minutes when Whyte scored a pull counter with :47 to go and Povetkin was sent into the ropes. Moments later Whyte landed another right hand and a left hook sent him falling to the canvas. Povetkin popped up quickly, I felt he should have taken more of the count and was on very wobbly legs. The referee called a TKO while Povetkin had reached his feet but was staggering around, the towel had also come in from Povetkin’s corner.
Whyte was the leading WBC contender for a very long time and was chasing the Deontay Wilder fight and then the Tyson Fury fight. The loss to Povetkin and rematch tied up the contender spot and has given Fury and Joshua time to negotiate a fight while a mandatory challenge is not issued. The two top heavyweights might be close to a deal as Eddie Hearn has come out several times to say the deal is basically done minus a date and venue. Whyte now is back in the top spot for the WBC title but when will he get his shot? Joshua and Fury could potentially turn into a two or three fight series which would really put Whyte in the waiting game. In other headlines Wilder is said to have direct messaged Dillian Whyte on social media which is a big non-title fight at heavyweight with huge implications. I’d like to see a fight like that than see Whyte just sit on his spot though Whyte is pretty long due for a title fight. The other fight that I would be very interested in seeing is Whyte to face Oleksandr Usyk who like Whyte is seen by many as the best heavyweight not wearing a title belt. This would create a definitive number one contender for the Joshua and Fury winner should that fight happen when it is supposed to happen.
As for Povetkin, I think it is time for him to call it a day. He is 41, will not be getting a title shot any time soon based on the above paragraph and looked like an old fighter in there. That is not to take anything away from Whyte’s very good performance but Povetkin as noticeably slower and his timing just was not there. Unless he wants to go for a farewell fight win in Russia I think it is time for him to retire. He has had a good run and had nice late surge but at the very top I think he has reached his peak. I would rather see him go out near the top than be kept in there for so long that he gets used by younger fighters looking to build their name off a 41 year-old.