Dillian Whyte’s long and painful road to a world title fight: He waited more than 1,000 days as No 1 challenger, nearly QUIT boxing after a failed drugs test, was KO’d by Povetkin before going silent amid his bitter contract dispute with Tyson Fury’s camp
- Dillian Whyte has waited a while for a world title shot ahead of his fight with Fury
- There has never been a dull moment with ‘The Body Snatcher’ over the years
- The heavyweight spent more than 1,000 days as the WBC’s No 1 challenger
- He also failed a drugs test and faced uncertainty before the charge was dropped
- A defeat to Alexander Povetkin nearly derailed his bid before he avenged it
- Now Whyte has gone silent after accusing Tyson Fury’s team or poor treatment
The thing about Dillian Whyte is – he never does things the easy way. Even now with a world title shot finally in front of him, there is radio silence from his camp.
The last few years have been tinged with frustration for ‘The Body Snatcher. He earned his place as the WBC’s No 1 challenger way back in 2017 after seeing off the ‘Nordic Nightmare’ Robert Helenius but would end up waiting five years before finally sealing the big fight that awaits him on April 23.
It would be two years before he was even upgraded to mandatory challenger, but the set-backs have kept falling his way. To his credit, he has batted away every obstacle than has tumbled into his path, though the road to the WBC’s most prestigious belt has been a long and arduous one.
Dillian Whyte has endured a turbulent journey to his first world title shot against Tyson Fury
Whyte has gone silent in the build up to the fight amid accusations of mistreatment, but his troubles go far beyond that after years of setbacks
A love him or loathe him character, Whyte has often played the villain – and so his story has often seen him treated as one throughout his career, which burst into life during his infamous feud with Anthony Joshua in 2016.
Unbeaten in 16 fights at the time, a cocky Whyte confessed his hatred for his rival Joshua and made a host of promises – only to be taught a tough lesson as the Watford star stopped him in round seven.
Since then, Whyte’s career has been going from strength to strength, remodelling his style and building up an impressive portfolio of explosive stoppages. With Whyte constantly under the heat, he kept rising to the challenge on a consistent basis with win after win after win.
He put himself up against a number of top opponents too – knocking out former world champion Lucas Browne in 2018 with a brutal stoppage that rendered him unconscious, then outpointing another former belt holder in Joseph Parker later on in the year.
Whyte was desperate for a showdown with American star Deontay Wilder – then the WBC champion. Wilder furiously told his British rival ‘a king don’t chase a peasant’ after being called out a number of times. And despite consistently racking up his wins, the likes of Dominic Breazeale, Luis Ortiz and Bermane Stiverne were all picked ahead of him as mandatory to to the Bronze Bomber in between 2017 and 2019.
Whyte spent around 1,200 days as the WBC’s No 1 challenger as a title shot remained elusive
He was desperate to face Deontay Wilder – then the WBC belt holder – but the likes of Bermane Stiverne, Dominic Breazeale and Fury were all picked ahead of him
He will be cursing his luck, considering Stiverne only had to fight once to earn his spot as a mandator – a points decision win over Deric Rossy in 2015 – then didn’t fight again for two years before being put in front of Wilder. He was duly stopped in just one round.
Just like Stiverne, Breazeale too was blasted out before the end of the first bell.
Whyte’s chance to finally show how it was done seemingly came two months later after seeing off the threat of Oscar Rivas – a fight which finally secured his long-awaited status as mandatory challenger. Then the walls came crashing down.
Having initially been cleared to fight Rivas by UKAD in July 2019 following a positive drug test result from his A sample the previous month, Whyte was facing an uncertain future after news of the breach circulated.
The WBC removed Whyte from their heavyweight rankings while an investigation was ongoing and and suspended his recognition as the interim title holder.
Whyte finally earned his long-awaited mandatory position after beating Oscar Rivas in 2019
But he was then hit with a huge set-back after returning a positive drugs test prior to his bout with Rivas – with UKAD still clearing him to fight
But after a long-drawn out saga lasting five months, Whyte was eventually cleared of all charges by the anti-doping agency after passing several tests – with an investigation finding there was nothing suggesting he had taken banned streroids.
A relief, but by this point the damage had already been done. Five months of his career had flown by – and Wilder had moved on to face another clash against Luis Ortiz before agreeing a second fight with Fury the following year.
The resounding feeling for The Body Snatcher was one of anger as he posted the statement from UKAD on his Twitter page.
‘For those who believed in me I won’t forget you,’ he wrote. ‘To those who didn’t, I won’t forgive you and I know who you are.’
Only one week earlier he had told of the anguish the entire saga had caused – admitting he considered hanging up his gloves during the ordeal, only to be convinced of his future by members of his team.
Whyte faced a period of uncertainty for five months as his mandatory status was ripped away from him – before he was eventually cleared of wrongdoing
‘A few times I’ve thought about walking away from boxing and jacking it in. But my team, they kept pushing me, urging me to go to the gym and taking the mickey out of me, saying my belly was getting bigger.
‘There were a few times I thought forget boxing, I’ve had enough and run off into the night because it’s been so stressful.
‘I came very close. I’m not someone to talk about my emotions, but I have been stressed and down and depressed. But my team kept pushing me and pushing me.’
An unconvincing win over Marius Wach followed – in truth he just needed to make it through after a difficult spell. Then before he knew it, Whyte was hit by another sucker punch after being stunned by Alexander Povetkin the following year.
With Fury becoming the new WBC world champion after stopping Wilder, his attentions quickly turned to an epic undisputed match up with Joshua – leaving Whyte in the cold again.
Instead he faced up to another stern test against the dangerous Povetkin during the height of the pandemic in Eddie Hearn’s garden, the Matchroom Sport HQ. Whyte looked to be dominating the proceedings – that was until round five.
He embarked on another quest for his world title shot before being stunned by a devastating uppercut from Alexander Povetkin – despite dominating the earlier rounds
Having dropped Povetkin to the canvas twice in the previous round, Whyte was cruising until he received the biggest shock of his career as he was caught by a devastating uppercut that sent him sprawling – momentarily lying motionless and requiring medical treatment.
Whyte pulled through – and in typical Dillian Whyte fashion shrugged off the KO and immediately demanded a rematch. It was another set-back – another delay to his hopes of a title shot. But he got the job done, eventually, after getting revenge with a stoppage of his own seven months later.
Now with a crowd behind him in Gibraltar, Whyte was much more focused and looked back to his ruthless old ways as he blasted out Povetkin in the fourth round.
By this point, Fury had abandoned plans to face Joshua in Saudi Arabia and opted to give Wilder a third fight, with Whyte facing another waiting game.
But he got his revenge in the rematch – stopping Povetkin to win back his interim belt
But after Joshua blew he chances of a unification with Fury after losing to Oleksandr Usyk, Whyte was made mandatory of Fury’s fight with Wilder – with the Gypsy King duly overcoming the American again in stunning fashion to set up an all-British clash.
With Fury left with nowhere to run, Whyte should have been satisfied and ready to concentrate all his energies on plotting his rival’s downfall to become the next WBC world champion. But in truth the drama was only just beginning.
As both camps began negotiating the prize pots, it became clear Fury was eyeing a big slice of the pie. But with Whyte refusing to come to an agreement over terms, it went to a purse bid. After Frank Warren beat Eddie Hearn in the bidding with an enormous offer of £30m, Whyte was offered a measly 20 per cent of the winnings – plus a bonus of £4m should he knock Fury out.
Whyte will earn around £6m in total for the fight – still his biggest ever career payday – but Fury stands to make a whopping £22m.
Whyte was on a collision course with Fury – but quickly became embroiled in a bitter contract dispute after his team awarded him just 20 per cent of the prize pot
The Gypsy King even wound up his rival further by claiming he had threatened to reduce his earnings more if he bad mouthed him in the press – saying he should be ‘thankful’ for the offer he has received.
Since the entire feud began, Whyte has been dead silent.
‘I think 20 percent for him is more than fair,’ Fury said last month. ‘He could get a possible £8.5m if he beats me. That there compared to his last fight when he got £250,000, that’s a lot of money. That’s seven times more than I got to fight Wladimir Klitschko. I was like ten times bigger than he was on that stage, so he’s got to be very, very thankful to me.
‘If I was him I’d be sending me gifts and stuff through the post. I think he thinks everybody owes him something, I’m not sure why or what he’s done to think that. We’ll find out on the night, he can’t run away in the ring.’
Just two weeks before fight night and Whyte’s silent treatment continues. But there’s more to it as a bitter dispute is still ongoing between his legal team and Fury’s promoter Frank Warren.
Whyte’s representative Jeffrey Benz has been doing most of the talking over the past few weeks – making a host of surprising claims over alleged breaches of contract from Warren and Co, including not giving Whyte tickets for friends and family.
‘We haven’t spoken to Frank [Warren] or George [Warren] for a month,’ Benz told talkSPORT. ‘I had a total of a three-minute conversation with Frank. Everything we’ve asked for is normal, standard, commercial; it’s not outlandish or outrageous.
‘[Their behaviour is] like nothing I’ve ever seen. We don’t have a single ticket for Dillian, his entourage, his mum or anybody else. Contrary to what [Frank] Warren said, we didn’t ask for complimentary tickets equal to the total number of ringside seats; we asked for 25 ringside seats. It’s normal, it’s what we give to Dillian’s opponents.
‘We have been given nothing. We’ve asked for credentials for his security team and video team. They’ve given us the bare minimum. We spent weeks asking them to tell us the size of the ring. Imagine if Crystal Palace travel to Chelsea and they don’t know the size of the pitch? It’s been stupid games, it was like pulling tooth and nail. [They’re] trying to stack the deck in favour of Fury.’
Whyte went quiet and didn’t show up at the first press conference – with Fury instead having an imaginary face-off
Fury accused Whyte of waving the white flag and said his absence had given him confidence
And it came after tensions mounted even further when Whyte was a no-show at the first official press conference for the fight at the beginning of March. Benz said his absence was due to a lack of a personal invitation and a dispute over the money he had been given.
Fury took pleasure in Whyte going missing – claiming he had ‘waved the white flag’.
‘It’s given me that much more confidence, it’s unbelievable. He’s definitely shown the white flag in my estimation.
‘He doesn’t want to go face to face with me because he’ll see that fire in my eyes and he’ll think “I’m getting smashed to bits”.’
But Warren has fiercely denied the allegation from Whyte and his team and flipped it around on them, accusing them of breaking the terms of their deal amid fears the fight might not even go ahead.
‘The bottom of line of all of it is he [Whyte] signed a contract,’ he told SecondsOut.
‘That contract is full of what his obligations are – and by the way what our obligations are. We’ve fulfilled every one of our obligations.
Fury’s promoter Frank Warren hit back at Whyte for ‘going off centre’ and causing problems
Whyte will have a whole lot of steam to blow off when he steps inside the ropes at Wembley
‘All he keeps doing is going off centre, off course, coming up with other stuff that’s not in the contract.
‘All I want [from] Dillian Whyte is what is in the contract. Nothing more, nothing less. And up to now, he has not done that. He’s in breach. He’s not done that.’
He continued: ‘We’re paying him $7.5million and he’s got an upside of $4million. Of course I’m upset. What have we got to say then? We pay fighters to do nothing?
‘Where does he think the money is generated from? It’s generated from the promotion. It’s not like, “Oh here’s a purse bid, here’s your money, sod off and show up on the night.”
‘Did he do that for any fight that he had with Matchroom? Did he not show up for one single press conference announcing a show for Matchroom? No. So why’s he doing this?’
It’s been a long old road for Dillian Whyte, but his big moment is almost upon him. ‘The Body Snatcher’ may not have much hope of causing an upset, but what he does have is a whole lot of steam to blow off at Wembley.
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