Friendship with Frank Bruno seems apt for brave everyman Whyte
Highlights as Whyte out-battled Rivas
Highlights as Whyte out-battled Rivas
Dillian Whyte is worth more than the price of gold – sure, a championship belt would look good, but his importance far exceeds that now.
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Three-and-a-half years ago Whyte swung as if his life depended on it inside the same ring that he stood in on Saturday night. Back then, against Anthony Joshua, he was booed and berated as the outsider to Joshua’s story, treated by some fans as a sacrificial lamb in his opponent’s rise to stardom.
He didn’t let it define him then, and Whyte won’t let the adulation and the glory of another victorious slugfest at The O2, just down the road from where he escaped a life of mischief, to define him now.
Rugged Whyte battles past Rivas
Full report from heavyweight scrap
Whyte hurt Rivas in the second round
Whyte won a gruelling fight
The south London bruiser has become a genuine fans’ favourite and this recognition of his blood, sweat and tears may be his true calling, while his agonising wait for a world title fight rumbles on.
His recent friendship with Frank Bruno is apt.
The legend of British sport, Bruno, finally became a world champion at the fourth attempt in the penultimate outing of his 50-fight career. He had already lost four times, including to the best that Britain and America could offer in Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, but was loved regardless for his relatable frailties and his admirable determination.
There are echoes to Whyte’s struggles. He is now the mandatory challenger to the WBC belt held by Deontay Wilder but the champion plans to first fight Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury. Whyte has remained dignified and accepting of a frustrating situation.
Wilder vs Whyte, by the way, would be a Wild West shootout worthy of Billy The Kid or Butch Cassidy. What a mouth-watering fight that would be.
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Whyte was forced to overcome adversity
Rivas floored Whyte in the ninth round
Meanwhile, Whyte’s cult status reached new heights against Oscar Rivas in a fight that was a major banana skin.
The second round, when Whyte thumped Rivas with a hurtful right hand then brawled like during his days as a nightclub bouncer, are why fans flock to see him. There is an everyman quality about Whyte.
The arena was silenced when he was knocked down in the ninth but Whyte was willed on to regain his composure and his footing.
He has never done things the easy way, probably why so many people identify with him. Whyte’s gloves, he revealed afterwards, were accidentally given to the wrong fighter meaning the man with his name on the billboards had to wear a replacement pair.
Whyte took on and won five fights in a three-month period from late-2014 when his current world title ambitions were a pipedream. He fought in Belfast on Carl Frampton’s undercard and on untelevised shows in front of two men and a dog.
More recently, desperate to pack in the practice, he made a quiet US debut on Terence Crawford’s show. The cold and remoteness of Nebraska is nobody’s idea of a dream trip but Whyte went, kept his head down, and won.
Even his training regime has been impressively revamped – he now trains at Loughborough University, a man whose own education ended early is now a success story surrounded by students.
Whyte refuses to take 'easy fights' Whyte refuses to take ‘easy fights’
Whyte has won 10 in a row since losing to Joshua at The O2 in December 2015. A savvy veteran in Derek Chisora was outpointed then knocked out. A brawler in Lucas Browne was smashed. Joseph Parker, quicker and with more polished skills, was outlasted.
Now Rivas, whose long amateur career took him to the 2008 Olympics in comparison to Whyte’s which consisted of just seven bouts, has been sent packing.
There has scarcely been a more deserving challenger to the world heavyweight title.
“We’ll see,” Whyte shrugged.