Whyte vs Povetkin: Hearn on Dillian’s huge risk

Eddie Hearn has played up the huge risk Dillian Whyte is taking by fighting Alexander Povetkin at his Matchroom Fight Camp on Saturday August 22 (live on Sky Sports Box Office).

Whyte has been the mandatory contender for the World Boxing Council (WBC) world heavyweight title for around 1000 days now – and he will put that status on the line against the Russian former WBA heavyweight king (35-2-1).

‘The Body Snatcher’ (27-1) knows he must win, and win impressively, to keep on the pressure on the sanctioning body to give him the title shot he is in theory due by the end of February 2021. That would be against the winner of the trilogy fight between current champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1) and former king Deontay Wilder (42-1-1). That appears to be tentatively scheduled for December 19.

Most elite fighters are currently training in the hope that arenas will soon be open to crowds again, allowing them to return to action with live gates such a factor in fight revenues at the highest level.

But Whyte has taken a different approach – stepping up to the plate to fight behind closed doors at Fight Camp in the grounds of Matchroom’s palatial Brentwood, Essex headquarters – which opened its doors to great success on Saturday night.

Fighting without a crowd is a step into the unknown for all fighters though, and Hearn was quick to emphasise just how much of a risk his man is taking.

He told Sky Sports: “He’s taking a huge risk. What people don’t realise is that this environment is different. You’ll get fighters over-performing and under-performing. The slogan is ‘no easy fights’. The days of easy fights should be gone. Let’s see these 50-50 match-ups.

“Whyte has been sat at No 1 with the WBC for 1000 days now – it is laughable now, comical. But we have our date at the end of February and we will be enforcing that.”

Povetkin was last seen fighting a draw against Michael Hunter on the undercard of Joshua vs Ruiz 2 in Saudi Arabia last December, and Hearn says he presents a real threat to Whyte’s aspirations.

“Povetkin is someone who is extremely well-seasoned, an Olympic gold medalist, he had great fights with Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, and good wins against David Price and Hughie Fury,” said Hearn.

“He can really fight. The advert says it all – this is the two best left-hookers in the sport. It is such a dangerous fight.”

To add to the danger for Whyte, he is coming into the bout off the back of a recent split with trainer Mark Tibbs – with whom he had registered 11 straight victories.

Whyte is currently a general 1/4 favourite with the bookmakers to overcome Povetkin, with the Russian around the 11/4 mark with the draw 22/1.