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Why shouldn’t Dillian Whyte step in to face Deontay Wilder?

Dillian Whyte
But Deontay Wilder won’t forgo his long-awaited third bout with Tyson Fury to accommodate Dillian Whyte, writes George Gigney

WITH the news of Tyson Fury and his camp being hit with a Covid-19 outbreak, the heavyweight champion’s trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder – initially planned for July 24 – will now be delayed. A new date is yet to be confirmed, though some reports claim it could be as late as October.

Eddie Hearn, who isn’t directly involved in the fight but promotes Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, suggested to Sky Sports that Wilder fight the latter of those two names instead.

Wilder and his trainer Malik Scott have both expressed their scepticism over the validity of Team Fury’s claims about the Covid-19 outbreak in their camp, though with no evidence as to why they think they’re lying.

So, while he’s waiting for Fury to get back to full time training, Hearn floated the idea of Wilder fighting Whyte in America on that July 24 date. Honestly, it’s not a bad idea.

Now, Hearn likely knows that the chances of that happening are slim to none and the suggestion is probably more of a veiled dig at Wilder more than anything else, but there’s no questioning that Whyte deserves a crack at one of the division’s big three.

The Londoner has scalped most of the other top contenders and has been pursuing a fight with Wilder for several years now. If Deontay is as frustrated as he says he is about the aborted July 24 date with Fury, why not stick with that schedule against a different opponent?

Well, the easy answer is that it represents a significant risk to his court-ordered third fight with Fury, which will come with a hefty paycheck. So, from a business perspective, it’s perhaps not worth the hassle, but in sporting terms it ticks all the right boxes.

He hasn’t fought since Fury stopped him in February 2020, and the only attention he’s received in the ensuing 18 months has been negative, largely down to the incredible shopping list of excuses he’s reeled out.

A fight with Whyte would have the two of the division’s leading contenders square off for the right to challenge for the championship. It would be an example of the sport working as intended; the best fighting the best to progress accordingly. Add to that their clashing personalities and exciting styles, and you’ve got a dream heavyweight fight.

The reality is that Wilder fought tooth and nail in court to torpedo a Fury-Joshua megafight and force Tyson into a third meeting with him, so there’s almost no way he’d push that to one side in order to face Whyte.

For Joshua, all signs point toward a fight with Oleksandr Usyk later in the year. The UK government has confirmed that, as of July 19, almost all Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted and that stadiums can allow full crowds again.

This is good news for Joshua-Usyk, which is set to take place in late September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, with a crowd of over 60,000 people. Hopefully they’re better behaved than those who attended the Euro 2020 final at Wembley over the weekend.

So, the Fury-Wilder postponement could actually help revive Fury-Joshua talks. If the trilogy fight does in fact take place in October, then both Joshua and Fury will have fought around the same time, meaning they will be on a similar schedule for a potential fight against each other early in the new year.

Obviously, they’d first both need to win their respective fights, but it’s encouraging that their calendars could now be more aligned.

Fury received a personal boost over the past week when he picked up his first ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award), having been named the ‘Best Boxer’ of 2021. His victory was met with confusion by some, who felt the likes of Teofimo Lopez and Canelo Alvarez were more deserving of the title.

The award is decided on a public vote, so Fury’s achievement speaks more to his popularity than perhaps his accomplishments in the ring. Either way, it’s yet another significant milestone in his fascinating career.

ESPN ran an interesting report into the potential for all women’s boxing fights to have three-minute rounds instead of two-minute ones, which is currently the case. The outlet spoke to numerous athletic commissions, promoters and broadcasters across America, all of whom were in support of female fighters having round-length parity with their male counterparts.

It seems the WBC remain the main opposition to changing the rules as they continue to cite medical evidence that is gradually being challenged. Ultimately, athletic commissions stated they’d be more than willing to allow three-minute rounds provided all relevant parties agreed.

With major promoters and broadcasters also backing these changes, it looks like they could potentially become widespread sometime in the near future. Better late than never.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission has received some rare praise over the past week after it declared fighters – both in boxing and MMA – would no longer receive disciplinary action for testing positive for cannabis.

The reason this decision has been so widely reported is that American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was recently suspended for 30 days after testing positive for the recreational drug, ruling her out of the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Many fans and pundits claimed her punishment was unnecessary given that the substance is legal in numerous states across the US and that it is not a performance enhancing drug.

In practice, Nevada’s decision won’t make a huge rate of different in the combat sports worlds as positive tests for cannabis there aren’t exactly a common occurrence, but the move at least shows a willingness to adapt and revise policies.

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