Fury faces his toughest challenge yet and looks to end on a bang, but can Whyte be the villain of Tyson’s story and snatch his title away?
At long last, after years of waiting, Dillian Whyte has finally been granted his shot at a world title. Before his defeat at the hands of Alexander Povetkin, Whyte had been the mandatory challenger for Deontay Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title for over 1000 days. Whyte has since avenged that defeat with a 4th round stoppage on Povetkin, in March of last year, and with the WBC strap now in the possession of Tyson Fury, the two are set to meet at Wembley Arena on the 23rd of April in Whyte’s first crack at a heavyweight world title.
There has perhaps never been a fighter more deserving of a world title shot than Dillian Whyte. With a résumé that is amongst the best in the division, including multiple former world champions in the shape of Anthony Joshua, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin as well as victories over other top fighters like Dereck Chisora (twice) and the dangerous Oscar Rivas. The fact that it has taken Whyte this long to get a shot at a title is a disgrace and says a lot about the politics of the sport. However, Whyte has finally been granted his shot and will no doubt put his all into becoming a world champion at the first time of asking. In order to counteract Fury’s immense size (6ft 9 with a reach of 85 inches, 7 more than Whyte’s) Whyte will look to make it a dog fight, fighting on the inside and looking to rough up Fury in the early rounds to gain his respect. Whyte will want to avoid boxing as much as possible but will have to take care not to tire in the early rounds as he has a record of fading in fights. With Whyte having hit the canvas against Rivas, Parker, Joshua and Povetkin (getting up to beat Rivas and Parker), Fury will no doubt look to rely on his exceptional stamina to take Whyte deep and possibly stop him in the later rounds.
It has become a bit of a cliché to say that one punch can change everything in a heavyweight bout, but that doesn’t mean to say that it isn’t true, in this fight especially. With both fighters having visited the canvas multiple times during their careers, (as well as his falls against Wilder, Fury also suffered a knock down at the hands of Steve Cunningham) it would unwise to count out either fighter if one of them is to visit the canvas early on in the fight.
Whyte’s best chance of achieving a victory over Fury will be his vicious left hook. Whyte has a remarkable ability to generate huge amounts of power with very little backlift, which will aid his chances of a KO if he looks to throw it on the inside or while exiting the clinch (dirty boxing will no doubt come into play during the fight).
Fury is the notable favourite coming into the fight with his superior boxing skills, stamina and size giving him a firm advantage over Whyte. But Whyte must not be underestimated, he has waited years for his title shot and will look to grab it with both hands as a figurative two-fingered salute to Mauricio Sulaimán and the WBC. People writing off Whyte as a result of Fury’s style and skill forget other great fights in history, most notably Roberto Duran’s 1980 victory over Sugar Ray Leonard. Duran wore Leonard down, not by boxing but by fighting and Whyte will look to implement this streetfighter style to get Fury out of there as quickly as possible. Fury will have to be at his best if he is to avoid the ‘Body Snatcher’ and what awaits us on 23rd April has the potential to be a classic.
Fury has stated that he intends to retire after his bout with Whyte in what would be a huge shame for the boxing world. If, as he’s stated, he wants to be considered amongst the greats of heavyweight boxing, then a retirement after his fight against Dillian Whyte will hardly make the cut when it comes to placing him amongst the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time (Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis etc). While his three fights with Deontay Wilder were exhilarating to watch and his victory over Wladimir Klitschko hugely impressive, there are still several other heavyweight fights for Fury that he needs to win to cement himself in history. An undisputed fight with Usyk and a big-money bout with Anthony Joshua await Fury if he is victorious over Whyte.
It is not always the talent of the fighter that makes them legendary, but the calibre of their opposition. What would Ali have been without Liston, Frazier or Foreman? What would Louis be without Carnera, Schmeling or Jersey Joe Walcott? Great fighters are only ever as great as their opposition.
Certain fighters have not had the privilege of being able to decide whether to cement themselves in history as their opposition has not been as skilled. The likes of Ali were able to establish their legacy, not only through their own talents, but due to the skill of their opponents, while other great heavyweights like Larry Holmes may not receive that luxury. Fury is in the prior category. Joshua and Usyk are both fearsome heavyweights, each possessing a different set of equally dangerous skills. If Fury wishes to be considered a ‘legacy fighter’ then a fight against Dillian Whyte is a step in the right direction. However, he cannot afford to call it quits there, if he is successful against the extremely dangerous Whyte then fights against both Joshua and Usyk are required if he is to be considered amongst some of the greats to have roamed the heavyweight division. Otherwise, he may just be condemned to a long list of people to have just been heavyweight world champion.