DILLIAN Whyte would be forgiven for taking his eye off the ball and succumbing to a shock defeat against Oscar Rivas next Saturday (July 20) in London.
With Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder seemingly taking turns to goad and distract him, it should certainly come as no surprise if Whyte looks beyond his immediate challenger and comes a cropper as a result.
The latest heavyweight to poke Whyte is Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion, who today accused Whyte of squirming his way out of previous opportunities to fight him.
“It’s just sad, a grown man be lurking, hiding in the bushes of another man,” Wilder, 41-0-1 (40), told 78SPORTSTV.
“That’s all he does: peeps his head out of the bushes to see what I’m doing. He’s talking about wanting to fight me, but he doesn’t want to fight me. I know who wants to fight and who don’t.
“He’s trying to act like he’s hard – his upbringing, he’s Jamaican – but I know realness. He ain’t the part. He don’t move me.
‘I appreciate him for the publicity, keeping my name alive, but he’s had multiple opportunities to fight me and didn’t take neither of the opportunities he had placed before him.”
If the fight was to ever happen, Whyte’s wild style would leave him open to being knocked out by a man whose modus operandi is to leave heavyweight contenders sprawled on the floor. That’s the view of Wilder at least.
“Dillian Whyte is one of the easiest styles,” he said. “If people say I’m wild, he’s definitely wild, and if anyone comes in and tries to wild with me, they ain’t gonna last long. He’s going to get knocked out real early.
“I said, ‘If you beat (Luis) Ortiz, you’ve got me.’ Then the WBC came around and mandated it. They ordered him to do it and what did he do? He declined. He didn’t want to do it. Whyte doesn’t want to fight. He’s just one of those guys who wants to talk, talk, talk.”
It’s Wilder who now has to worry about beating Ortiz – again – just as Whyte would be well-advised to worry about beating Colombian Rivas next week. In a division jonseing for its next big upset, both need to focus on not going the way of Anthony Joshua, their mutual friend.
Former featherweight champion Billy Dib says it would take a significant amount of money for him to be persuaded to step into the ring and fight Manny Pacquiao but has no such demands when it comes to fighting Amir Khan this Friday (July 12).
In fact, according to Dib, it is Khan who is boxing only for the money at this stage, a result of what the Australian believes is a gradual decline in skills and ambition.
“This is a one-off fight at welterweight for me and Amir Khan is absolutely the right guy for me to fight,” said Dib, a veteran of 52 fights across a 15-year career.
“Put it this way, you’d have to offer me a ridiculous amount, well into eight figures, to step into a ring with Manny Pacquiao. Your health is everything. But Amir Khan certainly isn’t Manny Pacquiao.
“Look, Amir definitely was a great champion, a proven warrior who’s made his mark on the game.
“He could be a future Hall of Famer. In time, I hope the boxing world will fully appreciate his skillset. But in the past few years there’s been a major decline and a lot of chinks have emerged. He’s no longer the fighter who schooled the likes of Devon Alexander and Marcos Maidana.
“Today, he’s fighting for different reasons – money!”
A lot has been said about Khan’s decision to fight in Saudi Arabia against a man who once operated as a nine-stone featherweight and rightly so. (The fight, on paper at least, has been described as “ludicrous” by one of Dib’s own cornermen.) Yet Dib, the one who has to make the weight discrepancy count for little, suggests not having to cut weight could be beneficial for him.
“For the first time in my boxing career, I’ve not needed to worry about my weight,” he said. “I’ll be far stronger, more thickset and hopefully I’ll carry my speed up because I’m quick, too.
“Everybody knows I’m a quality body puncher and I’ll be bringing even more strength and power. I’ll definitely test Khan. I really fancy my chances.
“But I know that if I don’t bring my absolute A-game, I’ll get exposed. I expect it to be a stylish fight rather than a war. Amir’s the naturally bigger man so I’ll need to box out of my skin.”
Dib, though once a decent featherweight, hardly sounds convinced, nor all that convincing. Then again, why should we expect him to be? This fight, rather than about Billy Dib and his chances, was only ever supposed to be about Amir Khan, Saudi Arabia, and the prospect of the Middle East one day hosting a money-spinning showdown between Khan and Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino legend Dib wouldn’t fight for all the money in the world.