Ash Lall previews the Whyte-Povetkin fight in full
On August 22, British heavyweight Dillian Whyte (27-1, 8KOs) is putting his WBC interim World heavyweight title on the line against the Russian powerhouse Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1, 24KOs).
This proposed fight fell through on two occasions this year until now, and what a time to have it as the grand finale of Matchroom's Fight Camp series.
This event promises to bring a unique behind-closed-doors atmosphere due to COVID19; however, not even the virus will stop this being the biggest fight of the summer, televised live on Sky Sports PPV.
Both boxers' backgrounds couldn't be any further apart.
Due to Whyte's earlier professional kickboxing career, his switch to boxing resulted in a very short stint ending with a 6-0, 5KOs record, which included that infamous knockdown and victory over rival Anthony Joshua in his amateur debut fight in 2009, aged 20. After leaving an opponent in a coma, the BBBofC intervened and took away his licence due to being a former professional in another combat sport, which led him to turn pro in 2011.
Povetkin, on the other hand, has acheived it all. Winning 125 from 132 bouts, Povetkin has a European Championships, World Championships, and Olympic gold medals all hanging proudly in his home. He has replicated this incredible success as a professional, having won the WBA World 'Regular' title in 2011, which was vacant following David Haye's bid for the 'Super' belt against Wladimir Klitschko.
Aside from their differences, they also share some similarities - both boxers have received bans for doping offences in the past and the controversies continue to follow them to this day.
'Bodysnatcher' Dillian has wanted a world title shot for a while, considering he earnt his stripes some time ago. The 32-year-old Londoner has transformed into a dangerous force ever since his sole loss to Anthony Joshua in 2015, currently holding a respectable 11-fight win streak against some top names in the blue-ribbon division, such as former WBO World champion Joseph Parker, Derek Chisora (twice), and the previously unbeaten Cuban, Oscar Rivas.
The Jamaican-born has to bring his A-game to this one otherwise he could jeopardise his lofty WBC ranking, so it's a must-win fight for him if he wants to challenge for the green and gold belt next.
Whyte has been training hard in Portugal for this fight with trainer Xavier Miller, who has replaced long-term trainer Mark Tibbs, who was the mastermind behind his heavyweight charge's bounce back from defeat to AJ and subsequent 11-fight winning run.
Tibbs worked wonders with Whyte and whipped him into shape, taking him from brawler to boxer in a very short time. Under Tibbs' tutelage, Whyte managed to beat two former world champions and ruined three fighters' unbeaten records - Dave Allen, Lucas Browne and Oscar Rivas.
Xavier Miller is also an experienced coach, having worked with fighters such as Derek Chisora in the past, but it takes time for fighters and trainers to gel with each other and this change could affect his performance.
You could argue that Miller is less experienced than Tibbs, so his influence will not be as strong, worthy and fruitful, which could be the undoing of Whyte in this fight. Changing trainers is part and parcel of boxing, however, so this may not actually have any effect at all, as it's all part of the learning and growing process. Miller is Whyte's fourth trainer in the pro ranks, so he has adapted to previous changes well enough.
40-year-old seasoned veteran Alexander Povetkin is back in contention after his victory over Hughie Fury in August 2019, and following performance against Michael Hunter in Saudi Arabia 98 days later in December. He got hurt early but managed to cope with the younger man's relentless onslaught for the rest of the fight, resulting in a draw due to his rallying back aganst the odds.
Despite his advanced age, 'The White Lion' is still mixing it with the division's top contenders, and seeing how he made life difficult for Anthony Joshua at the O2 back in 2018, he is not to be easily dismissed. Alexander has a prosperous boxing record which has seen him rack of a combined record of 160-9-1 over amateur and pro.
If 'The Russian Vityaz' secures the victory against Whyte, it could have the Andy Ruiz beating AJ effect, upsetting the pecking order in British boxing.
Both men contain an established skill-set, including a perilous left-hook. Dillian will need to keep tabs on Povetkin's hand speed, overhand right and forceful left and right hooks. However, Povetkin will need to anticipate which version of Whyte will turn up - the brawler or the boxer.
'Whyte the boxer' holds the advantage against Povetkin with reach and size, which will likely leave the Russian to stay highly reactive to Dillian's lead. However, 'Whyte the brawler' could certainly inflict lots of damage on the older man, although it's throwing caution to wind against an equally-dangerous puncher in Povetkin. Who is going to win the 'Battle of the left hooks'?
It's anyone's game; you could argue Povetkin is the more 'seasoned' fighter compared to Whyte, considering his vast experience, but I believe Whyte will be hungrier to secure the win to ensure he retains the No.1 WBC mandatory position he has held for so long.
Povetkin has done all there is do in his boxing career, yet he continues to fight on and cause problems wherever he goes. He still wants his shot at the world titles, so he will be just as determined as his yesteryears to get this win over Whyte. Training up in the mountains with Ivan Kirpa, he will be as fit as always for this fight.
As AJ will certainly testify, Povetkin will undoubtedly cause Whyte some early problems. It remains to be seen how the home fighter will cope with this early obstacle, as he gets used to the skill and strength of his 29th ring opponent. It will surely take a few rounds to adapt, just like Josuha was forced to do before scoring a seventh-round knockout.
Hunter will also offer the sound advice to watch out for the Russian's resilience, since the American couldn't put him away despite his explosive and successful start in their clash. Povetkin weathered the early storm then almost decked Hunter in the fifth if it wasn't for the ropes holding him up to save him.
My prediction is a Dillian Whyte victory, which will unfold in the 10th round via a stoppage. The Brixton boxer has recently proven to be tough as old boots whenever he gets back up from a knockdown, with a desire to be a British boxing legend more than ever. The potential lucrative fights ahead against Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder, depending on which one is holding the belt, will be all the incentive he needs to secure another win. With Fury-Wilder expected to meet in October, Whyte has a promise from the World Boxing Council that he can challenge for the title in February 2020.
Every boxing fan has to tune into Whyte vs Povetkin as this will determine the future of the heavyweight division. Dillian Whyte's incredible journey from his loss to AJ back in 2015 has been inspiring. He has gone from pantomime villain to public hero and this is a chance to solidify that elusive WBC heavyweight title shot.
The man standing in his way may be 40-years-old now, but he has no intention of stepping aside easily, as both AJ and Hunter can attest.
Here's to looking ahead to August 22, which is the same day in history that Whyte's fellow countryman Usain Bolt smashed the 4x100 relay record at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, which could be a good omen for the man born and raised in Port Antonio but now calls London his home.