Dillian Whyte will have felt shockwaves from Josh Warrington KO – he must be wary of Alexander Povetkin
There has never been a run like it in modern times – an eight-month roulette spin of risk, danger, heartbreak and glory all taking place in British boxing rings.
The fall of Josh Warrington, the latest cast-iron certainty to shockingly lose, will have jolted Dillian Whyte who suffered a similar fate but has a chance to go double or quits.
As if Whyte needed reminding, the knockout of Warrington will have hammered home an uncomfortable truth that will touch a nerve – in these bizarre times where the sound of every punch can be heard, no amount of preparation or deservedness can mitigate against the threat of the underdog.
Whyte had twice floored Alexander Povetkin last August, for four rounds it was a career-best performance of poise and power which was set to end a 1,000-day wait for a world title opportunity. Until, crash, the Russian landed a monumental uppercut which tees up a make-or-break rematch on March 6, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
“Story of my life, setback after setback,” Whyte teased through gritted teeth the morning after the night before, back when empty venues and chilling silence was still a novelty.
Back then, he could never have expected to be the first of several major shocks.
Daniel Dubois was promoter Frank Warren’s heavyweight prodigy but a fight they selected, against Joe Joyce, went horribly wrong. Joyce’s jab caused an injury and a stoppage which has reset Dubois’ career in a manner that, aged just 23, was not in the script.
Then Anthony Yarde, a former world title challenger who expected to rise to that position again, was outpointed by the savvy Lyndon Arthur in a result that few saw coming.
Warrington’s was the biggest shock yet – unbeaten in 30, he had vacated his IBF belt to increase the chances of a career-defining fight against world champions Can Xu or Gary Russell Jr but was handed a shellacking by unknown Mexican Mauricio Lara.
Promoter Eddie Hearn called it a “crushing blow” for Warrington – months earlier, with Whyte’s dreams in tatters, he said about Povetkin’s uppercut: “When the punch landed, I felt like I was in some dream.”
Saturday night might have been more shocking if Zelfa Barrett had not edged Kiko Martinez via unanimous decision but the one-sidedness of two of the judges’ scorecards was labelled “absolutely disgusting” by Hearn.
The theme that is now difficult to deny is that the unique environment created by the pandemic is causing quirky performances and results inside the ring.
“You will see upsets, you will see underdogs win,” Hearn vowed on the eve of boxing’s 2020 resumption.
“You will see people underperform and overperform because they are not used to this environment.
“Some will like the silence so they can listen to their corner, others might miss the crowd who get them up for their moment.”
Those words have come eerily true to the detriment of a couple of his fighters. Warrington and Whyte both usually benefit from raucous support and large crowds in Leeds and London respectively.
Other factors were at play too. For example, has it been considered that Warrington sat backstage watching his friend Reece Mould get knocked out for the first time in his life, just minutes before going to the ring himself?
Whyte’s reaction to his own downfall was to rematch Povetkin just a few months later but the delay to their second meeting will surely be of benefit to the man recovering from being knocked out.
He will not need telling twice that a repeat result could scupper his world heavyweight championship ambitions forever.
Anthony Joshua asked from ringside at the first fight: “Does Dillian still have that instinct in him? Because the fight was called maximum violence.
“When he had the opportunity to take [Povetkin] out, I wanted to see that maximum violence.”
Joshua was ultimately an example of how to execute a game-plan perfectly despite the atmosphere – Whyte was, too, until being struck by one unruly punch.
It is a demonstration that the margins for error have narrowed, underdogs are less inhibited and the favourites are more exposed.
THE AVANESYAN EXPERIENCE🤯
A taste of what @JOSHPBK will face on Saturday night…🌪 pic.twitter.com/Dvkk2imw0k
David Avanesyan will be buoyed by the mayhem on Saturday when, in a defence of his European welterweight title, he can bring Josh Kelly’s emerging reputation crashing down, live on Sky Sports.
Kelly will be the latest feted Brit with grand plans ahead of him who knows that the carrot dangling in front of his opponent is more inviting than ever before.
And somewhere Whyte will be sat, growling and visualising, before he re-spins the roulette wheel to claim back everything that Povetkin took from him.
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