Dillian Whyte’s world heavyweight title dream lies in tatters after he was stopped in five rounds by Alexander Povetkin at Matchroom Fight Camp on Saturday night.
‘The Body Snatcher’ was in complete control for the opening four rounds, and had the 40-year-old Russian (35-2-1) on the floor twice in the fourth.
But Povetkin was by no means finished and early in the fifth he landed a stunning left uppercut right on the point of Whyte’s chin to deck the man from Brixton in convincing fashion. He was clearly never going to beat the count and referee Mark Lyson waved it off.
Whyte came into the bout knowing that after more than 1000 days as the mandatory contender for the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title, a victory here would finally assure him of a title shot against the winner of Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3.
And after coming in looking in great shape, some 19lbs lighter than for his last outing against Mariusz Wach, Whyte started supremely well.
He popped the jab out impressively and boxed with great efficiency while Povetkin’s attempts to get inside and work to the body early came to nothing.
After a pretty even first session Whyte was well on top in the second and third, before really taking over in the fourth.
First he dropped Povetkin with two rights followed by a left hook, and then right at the end of the session repeated the dose with a beautiful short left uppercut.
Both times Povetkin beat the count but as he staggered back to the corner it looked only a matter of time before Whyte would close the show and move ahead to that elusive world-title shot.
But the fifth round was to change the course of the bout in incredible fashion as Povetkin took advantage of a golden opportunity, landing that picture-perfect left uppercut right on the point of Whyte’s chin.
‘The Body Snatcher’ fell heavily to the canvas and it was clear as referee Lyson began the count that he was not going to beat it.
Lyson called the fight off 20 seconds into the round with Whyte still on the floor. And while he did rise to his feet shortly after, the defeat deals a devastating blow to his hopes of finally landing a world title.
Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports Box Office: “I can’t quite believe it. When the punch landed I felt like I was almost in a dream. The fight was almost over. But in heavyweight boxing one punch can change everything.
“Dillian Whyte was in total control and I really felt confident he was about to finish the fight. It is a shock, but we knew how good Alexander Povetkin was. Dillian Whyte had that fight almost in the bag.
“I am pretty much lost for words, speaking to people, and they are the same. We have a rematch clause and the first thing Dillian said was ‘get me that rematch’.
“We will exercise that rematch clause and look to do that fight before the end of the year. But I know that Dillian will come back from this. He will come back, he will rematch Alexander Povetkin.
“One of the stumbling blocks to making that bout (Fury vs Joshua) early in 2021 was the mandatory. I guess that frees up Tyson Fury to fight Anthony Joshua after the Wilder fight.”
Meanwhile unidsputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor retained her titles and her unbeaten professional record (16-0) when she outpointed Belgian Delfine Persoon (44-3) in a hard-fought rematch.
Taylor, still smarting from claims she was lucky to take the decision after a brutal slugfest in her first meeting with Persoon at Madison Square Garden, last June, produced the classier work all night.
Persoon meanwhile was her typical all-action self, producing incredible levels of intensity and punch volume.
But it was the latter which clearly caught the eye of the judges, who scored it 96-94 and 98-93 (twice) for the Bray superstar.
Persoon, who said she feared she had suffered a broken nose in Round 2, revealed afterwards that she felt a lack of power after bulking up to lightweight and would now likely move back down to super-featherweight.
On the undercard, Chris Kongo (now 12-0) produced an excellent display to stop Luther Clay (13-2) in Round 9 of their welterweight clash.
Kongo showed real class to outbox Clay, who was unable to make his pressure tactics tell on his opponent.
Heavyweight prospect Alen Babic improved to 4-0 as he battered the outgunned Shawndell Winters to a stoppage defeat inside two rounds.
The Whyte vs Povetkin show was screened live by Sky Sports Box Office in the UK with a pay-perv-view price of £19.99, while streaming platform DAZN showed the fight in nine markets – the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Austria and Switzerland.