IT’S an interesting time to be a British heavyweight.
There are already three big men currently boxing at world, or at least international, level in Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora and David Price. Then there’s an outstanding young prospect in Anthony Joshua, the 2012 London Olympic super-heavyweight gold medallist who has won all 10 pro fights inside the distance.
But there are also a few other hopeful with unblemished ring records. Hughie Fury is 14-0 and as an amateur was World Youth champion in 2012 (a serious achievement in a sport usually dominated by boxers from the former Soviet Union); Scotland’s Gary Cornish is 19-0, albeit mostly through careful matchmaking.
Perhaps the best hopeful behind Joshua is Brixton-Jamaican Dillian Whyte, who is 12-0 with nine wins inside the limit. Whyte’s main claim to fame is that he beat Joshua when both were novice amateurs; his other headline is being banned for two years after testing positive for a banned substance (he blamed it on a contaminated supplement).
On Saturday (February 7) Whyte goes for win no. 13 when he takes on Brazil’s Marcelo Luiz Nascimento on Mickey Helliet’s bill at the Camden Centre in Kings Cross. Last November I saw the Brazilian box Philadelphia’s UK-based “Fast” Eddie Chambers at Greenhithe and last the eight-round distance despite being down three times (once in the fifth and twice in the seventh).
He’s an experienced, rugged performer and certainly a step up from the opponents Whyte has feasted on so far. Dillian has met assorted Eastern Europeans plus UK journeymen and a faded former British champ in Mike Holden, and while he’s seen them all off it’s definitely time for a step up. It will be interesting to see how Whyte copes if Nascimento survives his early onslaught and takes him into the later rounds (the fight is set for eight).
Since returning from his ban Whyte has won all three fights inside three rounds, so we know he can punch. But to hurt somebody you have to land a punch, and Nascimento has the ring savvy acquired against some decent names: as well as Chambers, he’s also met hot New Zealand prospect Joe Parker – who stopped him in seven.
Dillian is still only 26 so has time on his side, as heavyweights traditionally mature later than smaller men. After all, Lennox Lewis was arguably at his peak in his mid-30s, while Frank Bruno didn’t become WBC champion until he was 33. Who knows if Whyte will ever approach those achievements of that pair, or even if he will get the professional fight with Joshua that he’s been demanding. All he can do is keep on winning, and that must continue with Nascimento this weekend.
Douglas: “What had been a wonderful childhood dream come true became a nightmare…”
Holyfield: “Mike looked at me and I looked at Mike, I made it clear that whatever he did, however he played, I would do it all night…”
Lewis: “All of a sudden Tyson turned into King Kong. Where did that guy come from?…”
Williams: “It was the second or third round when I just thought, ‘Forget it, I’m going to war with you.’…”
McBride: “Thank God he had the mouthpiece in, or I’d be the only guy in Ireland with just one nipple…”