By: Hans Themistode
With only a few hours away before fighting for his first world title, the magnitude of the event has seemingly hit Dillian Whyte.
“I’m about to become world champion,” said Whyte during an interview with Lucky Block.
Whyte, 34, has done his best to work his way back up the heavyweight ranks following his fifth-round stoppage defeat at the hands of Anthony Joshua in 2015. In an effort to prove that he is, in fact, worthy of challenging for a world title, Whyte reeled off 11 consecutive victories. Amongst his more notable triumphs, Whyte defeated former heavyweight champions Joseph Parker and Lucas Browne.
While a jaw-dropping loss against Alexander Povetkin knocked Whyte off his world title path momentarily, an equally as impressive knockout win in their immediate rematch has placed him on the verge of championship glory. In order to reach the crescendo of the pugilistic sport, Whyte will attempt to sully the record of current WBC heavyweight kingpin, Tyson Fury.
As a crowd of nearly 100,000 is expected to fill Wembley Stadium later on tonight, the normally stoic demeanor of Whyte begins to change. For most fighters, becoming a world champion is an immediate goal the moment they first enter a gym and put on their first pair of boxing gloves. In Whyte’s case, however, fighting on the grandest of stages with all of the marbles on the line, never crossed his mind.
“I didn’t put on the gloves to be world champion. I put the gloves on to come off the streets, not get killed, and not kill someone, try to change my life. I literally put the gloves on to stay out of trouble but it took my life over because I was too tired from training. I was learning a new skill and picking something up. It just took my life over.”
Despite turning his life around and focusing his efforts on honing his skills, Whyte received a late start in the boxing world. In his first official bout as an amateur, Whyte was already 20 years of age. He would also go on to have only six amateur contests.
Regardless of his relatively short time in the unpaid ranks, Whyte has worked diligently to improve himself. In doing so, he’s carefully surveyed the boxing landscape. Ultimately, while Fury and Whyte will do battle in just a few short hours, the highly ranked contender has a great amount of reverence for what Fury brings to the table.
At the age of 33, Fury often finds his name near the very top of the heavyweight food chain. In his most recent trips to the ring, the British star violently closed the chapter on his rivalry against Deontay Wilder.
Primarily known as a boxer for most of his career, Fury opted against his typical box-first approach. Instead, the 6’9” titlist barreled forward, roughing Wilder up on the inside before stopping him on back-to-back occasions. Although he emerged victoriously, Fury’s less tactical game plan allowed Wilder to have his moments of success, dropping the British product on two occasions.
Admittedly, considering the malleable nature of Fury, Whyte is unsure how the heavyweight belt holder will choose to approach their upcoming bout. However, on several occasions, Fury has stated that he plans on bringing the fight directly to Whyte from the opening bell. Should Fury prove to be a man of his word, a sly smile spreads across the face of Whyte. If Fury is willing to stand in the middle of the ring and bang with the rough and rugged contender, Whyte is quick to point out that he isn’t Wilder and is more than willing to play Fury’s game.
“When he presses forward, he’s more vulnerable. Sometimes, being a taller fighter and being aggressive is one of the worst things you can do. I’m physically stronger than Tyson Fury. I’m not Wilder. Wilder ain’t got physical strength. He’s got speed and athleticism and he’s awkward. But physical strength, I got physical strength in abundance and I got more heart as well.”