In August 2020, Matchroom HQ’s back garden played host to what Dillian Whyte thought would be yet another stepping stone on the way to what he hoped would be a WBC Heavyweight title shot some 1000 plus days in the making.
For four rounds, Whyte looked well on course for a simple victory, knocking down the ageing former world champion, Alexander Povetkin twice in a near punch perfect display.
Then came disaster. In the time honoured tradition in Heavyweight boxing, one punch can change everything, and half a minute into the fifth, the Russian detonated a massive left uppercut that wiped out Whyte on impact, crushing the Brixton man’s dreams, and forcing ‘The Bodysnatcher’ into a backwards career step.
The rematch was always a natural, and this Saturday, in the unusual setting of Gibraltar, the two lock horns again as Whyte bids for redemption, and with it, the WBC Interim title he lost last summer, and the lofty ranking that accompanies it.
Whyte (27-2, KO18) has come on in leaps and bounds since a grudge match stoppage defeat to Anthony Joshua in 2015, and picked up some high profile wins to mould him into box office material.
Whyte headlined a pay per-view-card for the first time in July 2018, in a thriller with Joseph Parker. Whyte put Parker down twice during the fight, but was then floored himself in the last round, and was out on his feet before securing a points win.
Then came a rematch with Dereck Chisora, in a repeat of their December 2016 classic. It was another barnburner, and Whyte was behind on two cards before scoring a stunning eleventh round knockout.
With then WBC champion, Deontay Wilder, otherwise engaged with mandatory challengers and Tyson Fury, Whyte again had to bide his time, and again had to get off the floor to outpoint Oscar Rivas in July 2019.
Whyte will have certainly cut no corners for the rematch, and will have designs on finishing the job that he started so well in Brentwood.
Povetkin (36-2-1, KO25) is firmly in the twilight of his career, but the 41-year-old still has hopes of securing another world title shot before he is done.
The Russian is a former WBA champion, and was an Olympic champion in his unpaid days, but he has also had his fair share of controversy with failed drug tests clouding his career.
After a September 2018 stoppage loss to Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium, it looked like the beginning of the end for ‘Sasha’, even though he put in a spirited display, and after a dominant points win against Hughie Fury, he was fortunate to escape from a December 2019 meeting with Michael Hunter with a draw.
He certainly looked flat and lethargic against Whyte, but as we all know, the last thing to go from a fighter is their punch, and he proved that in spades in his original meeting with Dillian.
Prediction: The sole mistake Whyte made in the first fight with Povetkin was a fatal one, but I can’t see him being cautious and boxing his way to a points win, as that’s not in his nature.
The more likely scenario is a repeat of the original contest, and this time Whyte can finish the ageing Povetkin off for good, with the tiring Russian halted in the first half of the bout.
There’s quality action to be found on the undercard. In a fight that’s sure to provide fireworks, Ted Cheeseman (16-2-1, KO9) and JJ Metcalf (21-0, KO13) clash for the vacant British Super Welterweight title, a belt formerly owned by Cheeseman.
Ted lost his way somewhat after a promising start. After beating Asinia Byfield to win the British title, Cheeseman was then hammered over twelve in a European title bid against Sergo Garcia in February 2019.
His return to British level saw him draw with Kieron Conway, before Scott Fitzgerald outpointed ‘The Big Cheese’ in October 2019 to relieve him of the Lonsdale Belt.
He returned in an August 2020 thriller with Sam Eggington, shading a classic on the scorecards.
Metcalf is largely untested, but carries power. The son of former WBU champion, Shea Neary, JJ won the vacant Commonwealth title in June 2019, stopping Jason Welborn in eight in Leeds.
The Liverpudlian was last out in February last year, stopping trial horse, Jan Balog, inside a round.
Prediction: This is a fight that is sure to be a tear up, with both men not liking to take a backwards step, and I can see many spiteful punches being exchanged in this one.
Cheeseman for me has more seasoning, and in a contest where both men could visit the canvas, I favour Ted to get the job done in around ten breath taking rounds.
A superb looking fight comes at Welterweight, where Chris Kongo (12-0, KO7) defends his WBO Global belt against Michael McKinson (19-0, KO2).
It’s a really well matched contest, and Kongo was last seen coming of age in August 2020, stopping Luther Clay in nine to win the title.
McKinson is a solid operator with some good wins on his CV, but doesn’t carry knockout power. He has been ten rounds in his last five outings, and the tentative pick is for him to get his hand raised by a tight margin on the cards after ten here.
Fabio Wardley (10-0, KO9) is coming off a career best win last time out, and he appears here against faded former two-time world title challenger, Eric Molina (27-6, KO19).
Wardley stopped Richard Lartey in his most recent appearance, and a win against Molina will look good on his record.
‘Drummer Boy’ Molina has been stopped in each of his six defeats, and lost in world title challenges to Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
He has lost three of his last five, the last a third round knockout defeat to Filip Hrgovic. I expect a stoppage or corner retirement in this one within five or six to hand Wardley the win.
The third and last Heavyweight offering features former Ultimate Boxxer winner, Nick Webb (16-2, KO12). The Chertsey big man has his hands full against Russia born German Erik Pfeifer (7-0, KO5).
Pfeifer is a double Olympian, competing in the 2012 and 2016 games, and should have too much for Webb, with the ending coming around halfway.
Youssef Khoumari (11-0-1, KO4) faces a decent test at Super Featherweight, as he faces Kane Baker (14-7, KO0), who holds a very deceiving record. Khoumari should be able to take a points win.
Son of the legend, Campbell Hatton makes his professional bow, and he is eased in against winless Spaniard, Jesus Ruiz (0-10).