Boxing News At Five | Mar 06 2019

Boxing News at Five: Whyte linked to Top Rank and ESPN deals, Catterall heads to New York to scout Hooker

Dillian Whyte is rumoured to be following Tyson Fury to America, while Jack Catterall heads to New York to spy on Maurice Hooker
Dillian Whyte
Dillian Whyte v Joseph Parker Press Conference  |  Action Images/Peter Cziborra

IN the current issue of Boxing News, you will find an eight-page feature analysing why many British boxers are looking to America for paydays they can no longer find at home [outside the unclear and forever shifting parameters of pay-per-view].

Without wanting to spoil the big reveal, the crux of it, based on a series of in-depth interviews with Eddie Hearn, Frank Warren and Sky Sports’ Adam Smith, is this: if you are a pay-per-view star in the UK, you have an abundance of options and can box either at home or in America and make a shedload of money. If, however, you are not a bona fide Box Office star, and linger somewhere on the periphery, then your options are fairly limited and America, the land of the big-spenders and TV networks in a panic to outdo one another, could be a more lucrative temporary home than Great Britain, a country in which TV rights fees have stayed the same despite the rise in fighter purses and the overall popularity of the sport.

Basically, if you are Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury, it’s all good. You can fight in the UK and bank astronomical amounts of money and you can do the same in America, too. For the likes of Dillian Whyte, Callum Smith, Kell Brook and Amir Khan, though, it’s a trickier time.

Whyte, according to BoxingScene.com, is on the verge of completing a deal with Top Rank and ESPN, which, based on the flux we’re witnessing in the UK, will come as a surprise only to those unaware of the Britain to America exodus.

As mentioned, Whyte is one of a number of British fighters currently caught in that middle ground between pay-per-view windfalls and regular [Sky Sports] Saturday Fight Night pay packets and the lure of America [specifically, following Fury to Top Ran and ESPN], consequently, will no doubt appeal. He is ranked highly by the WBC, has won nine fights in a row since losing to Anthony Joshua, the biggest star in the UK, and is seemingly keen to look out for number one.

To make matters more complicated, Whyte, thanks to his Joshua association, has become something of a pay-per-view commodity himself in recent times – boxing Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora on the platform – yet still lacks the profile and pulling power of a Joshua or Fury. That is to say, unlike Joshua and Fury, Whyte hasn’t reached the point where he can headline a pay-per-view event in the UK on his name alone – regardless of the identity of the opponent – or attract the biggest names in the sport to face him. He’s nearly there, one suspects, but not quite yet. Imagine, for instance, the reception if he were to fight Dominic Breazeale on a Sky Box Office show this summer. Or perhaps Luis Ortiz. Or Alexander Povetkin.

Those fights, while interesting enough on paper, and certainly useful as chief-support bouts, lack the special ingredient required to be standalone PPV headline attractions [despite the bar being lowered ever so slightly by Whyte vs. Parker and Whyte vs. Chisora II], which they would need to be in order to pay Whyte what he now feels he deserves.

For better or worse, Dillian Whyte, the version heading to America to get rich, is the monster pay-per-view has created and has every right to now expect a certain standard of pay. He has, after all, headlined two pay-per-view events already, is inextricably linked to the most popular fighter in the UK (Joshua), and is on very impressive run of form, boasting wins against more than one fellow contender. Whyte, 30, didn’t invent the game, nor the rules. He’s merely playing by them and fighting for what he was presumably once told he deserves.

Dillian Whyte v Derek Chisora, Heavyweight fight, O2 arena, London. 22nd December 2018 Picture By Dave Thompson


Although he is the WBO’s number one contender at super-lightweight, and therefore next in line, Jack Catterall isn’t about to rest on his laurels or skimp on his homework duties.

Instead, the skilful Mancunian, owner of the lightly regarded WBO intercontinental title for the last four years, will attend Maurice Hooker’s WBO world title defence against Mikkel Lespierre in Verona, NY on Saturday night with every intention of scouting the champion, his future opponent, for weaknesses.

“This is serious business,” Catterall, 23-0 (12), said. “It’s my job and all part of the work I do. I could’ve watched him, studied him from home and worked out how to beat him but this is better.

“As well as wanting to watch him up close, I’m also there to let him know I mean business. I’m a gentleman and I’ll be respectful but it’s no secret I believe I’ve the beating of him.

“People will pick up on the fact I’m there but I’m there to watch him fight. When I’m the one fighting him, it’ll be time for me to take over and start my reign at the top.

“I’ve no doubt it’ll spark that extra bit of interest from the fans. They know I’m on track to get this fight and maybe it’ll lead to more people talking about it and some renewed momentum.

“I haven’t bothered watching Lespierre. If he wins, I’ll take notice, but he suddenly appeared in the rankings and it doesn’t look like he’s done much to earn the shot, so I expect Hooker to pick up a good win.

“Regardless of all this, I’ll always be respectful. They call me ‘Gentleman Jack’ for a reason and I’ve not worked all the way to this point to get here and decide I want to be somebody else. My conduct will be the same as it’s always been.”

Just as there’s a time and a place to be a gentleman, there’s a time and a place to be a number one contender. If Jack Catterall gets his timing right, he could be quids in.

Jack Catterall