Dillian Whyte has said it has been a “frustrating time” waiting over 1,000 days for his shot at the WBC world heavyweight title as he prepares to face Alexander Povetkin on Saturday.
The WBC No. 1 challenger is fighting not only for one of the biggest bouts of his career — facing the winner of Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder — but also the fringe WBC Diamond belt at a fan-less final instalment of ‘Fight Camp’ in the garden of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom’s office headquarters in Essex, England.
Jamaica-born, London-based Whyte hopes it is the final step towards an overdue title shot after he was officially confirmed as the highest-ranked contender by the WBC governing body in November 2017.
Last year was doubly frustrating for Whyte in that he had a doping violation hanging over him until the eve of his last fight in Saudi Arabia in December.
The doping charge, which Whyte strongly denied, was later dropped as the levels in his sample were “very low.”
Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs), 32, was cleared him of any wrongdoing and proceeded to unanimously outpoint Mariusz Wach, but after weighing in a career-heaviest 271 pounds.
Then came the delays to the boxing schedule due to coronavirus.
“Of course it has been a frustrating time,” Whyte told ESPN.
“It wasn’t the best time for me but hard times breed hard man and I was a hard f****r anyway. We have learned a lot and we understand a bit more about boxing now.
“I had to deal with a dangerous opponent [Wach], who had been training for months but I only got the call at three weeks’ notice.
“I wasn’t in the best shape, I was 20 pounds over, but I still won most of the rounds and I went ten rounds. Wach looked better in that than he has done before.”
Whyte learned of his positive test result in July 2019, after he passed all tests with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) for his unanimous points win against Colombian Oscar Rivas, but gave an adverse test from UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).
Whyte said he questioned his future in boxing before UKAD announced it had withdrawn its charge.
“I was down and out, I nearly walked away from boxing, I gave up on boxing, but I went through with it and the whole thing cost me a fortune,” he added.
“When everything was going on [with the positive drugs test] I was down and demotivated. Boxing is a hard game and it happens. Look at what happened to Tyson Fury after he beat Wladimir Klitschko, and Andy Ruiz when he beat Anthony Joshua for the world title [last year]. Ruiz won the world title and couldn’t keep discipline.
“Imagine being in my position, the opposite, with people saying your career is over and judging you, and writing you off. I was overweight and demotivated, I was on the opposite side to where Ruiz was, but I still got the job done.”
Whyte has registered wins over Wach, Rivas, Dereck Chisora, former WBO world champion Joseph Parker and Marcus Browne as WBC top contender.
In the meantime, Whyte has had to watch Luis Ortiz (twice), Dominic Breazeale and Fury (twice) challenge Wilder for the WBC belt, which Fury now holds after stopping Wilder in February.
“I blame Deontay Wilder because he is a f***ing coward,” Whyte said.
“He has put the WBC in this situation. He was scared to fight me. I’m more heavy handed than Fury and Wilder knows that.
“Let’s see what happens, it’s about time the WBC does right by me, I have been loyal to them. Boxing is always a business and negotiations are going on. I’m No 1, have been mandatory challenger since 2017 after I beat Robert Helenius. I deserve my chance. You wouldn’t see it in football or baseball where the top teams don’t play each other for three years — it makes no sense.
“I was assured I would get my chance by May , and now it has been pushed back [to February 2021] because they read a news article [about Whyte’s positive drugs test]. It’s shameful, they couldn’t speak to me about it first, and I flew out Mexico to speak to them in person too.”
The WBC says the winner of titleholder Fury, Whyte’s English rival and one-time sparring partner, and Wilder must face the Whyte vs. Povetkin winner by February 2021.
If Fury vs. Wilder III is delayed due to restrictions with live gates, and assuming Whyte beats Povetkin, Whyte’s wait will go on beyond the deadline.
Fury’s co-promoter Frank Warren wants Fury to go straight into a fight with WBA-IBF-WBO champion Anthony Joshua next summer, should he beat Wilder again.
Eddie Hearn, Whyte and Joshua’s promoter, has said the Whyte fight has to come before Fury vs. Joshua.
“It p***es me off but it’s business, always business in boxing,” Whyte said. “The promoter’s job is to make money and chase the big fights. It’s Wilder and the WBC’s fault that we are in this situation. If they had forced him to fight me we wouldn’t be in this situation, it’s still a p*** take because I’m first in the [WBC] queue. It’s up to the WBC to do what’s right. I’ve been loyal so why don’t they force the champion?”
Whyte has had to repeatedly risk his status as WBC No. 1 by fighting while he waits for his shot at global glory.
Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KOs), 40, is another big risk. The Russian has been among the world’s very best heavyweights for a decade, and has seen a late revival in his career after he was unanimously outpointed by Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko seven years ago.
Povektin, who turned professional after winning gold at the 2004 Olympics, held the secondary, less prestigious version of the WBA world title from 2011 until being well beaten by Klitschko.
He rebuilt his career, and a stunning knockout of Whyte’s fellow Briton David Price set up a world title against Joshua in September 2018.
Two of the judges only had two rounds in it when Joshua separated Povektin from his senses in round seven.
After unanimously outpointing Fury’s cousin Hughie Fury a year ago, Povektin drew with American Michael Hunter last December.
Povetkin, who can reportedly count Russian president Vladimir President Putin among his fans, also failed two doping tests in 2016 which cost him a WBC title shot against Wilder.
“The guy is a class act, he’s well schooled and he’s very technical,” said Whyte.