The culmination of the hugely entertaining Matchroom Fight Camp series sees a Sky Sports Box Office extravaganza this Saturday night at Matchroom’s Brentwood HQ.
Top of the bill is a battle of the big men, and Dillian Whyte (27-1, KO18) continues to bide time, as he has done for more than some 1000 days, in his bid to become WBC world champion.
‘The Body Snatcher’ will meet seasoned, former Olympic and WBA World Champion, Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1, KO24).
In what is scheduled for twelve rounds for two spurious titles, the WBC Interim belt, and the vacant WBC Diamond strap.
Whyte has been in limbo for some time now, with the WBC Heavyweight title picture congested after Tyson Fury’s sensational return to the sport, drawing with and then defeating Deontay Wilder, and now a trilogy fight is contracted.
All of this have left number one contender Whyte out in the cold, however he must receive a title shot by February 2021 as per the governing body’s advice.
32-year-old Whyte turned professional in May 2011 then, after a promising 9-0 start, he was then banned from the sport for two years after testing positive for a banned substance (MHA), coming from a supplement that Whyte claimed he didn’t know contained the banned ingredient.
Whyte eventually resumed his career in November 2014, and seven straight wins led him into a grudge match for the British and Commonwealth belts against Anthony Joshua, a man Whyte had defeated in the amateurs.
The Brixton man gave Joshua problems, but was eventually overcome in seven rounds as he tasted defeat for the first and only time in his career thus far.
Dillian did pick up the vacant Lonsdale Belt in October 2016, and then beat Dereck Chisora in a fight of the year contender two months later.
‘The Bodysnatcher’ became WBC number one, just one year later, when he picked up the vacant WBC Silver title with a wide points win over Robert Helenius.
He would go on to defeat Lucas Browne with a vicious sixth round knockout, before being involved in back to back thrillers.
Firstly, came Joseph Parker, where Whyte dropped the Kiwi twice, before being dropped himself with seconds to go as he clung on for a points win.
Then came a Chisora rematch, and Whyte was behind on two scorecards before pulling out a highlight reel knockout in the eleventh.
July 2019 saw Whyte gain mandatory status with the WBC, as he again had to rise from the canvas to out point Oscar Rivas at the O2 in London.
Installed as the WBC mandatory ever since Whyte marked time in his last fight in Saudi Arabia in December last year with a lacklustre points win against Mariusz Wach over ten.
The 40-year-old Russian Povetkin is a dangerous assignment for Whyte, but the Chekhov native’s best years are behind him, and his ambitions at this late stage of his career can certainly be questioned.
‘Sasha’ was a supreme amateur, winning Gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and big things were expected of him professionally.
Arguably, although he became WBA World Champion, he struggled to fulfil his massive potential. He became champion in August 2011 with a points win over Ruslan Chagaev, and defended four times before running into the superlative Wladimir Klitschko at the National Stadium in Moscow in October 2013.
It remains one of the biggest purse bids in the sport at just over $23 million. Povetkin just wasn’t ready for Klitschko, and was down four times in all in a landslide points win for the Ukrainian.
Since then, Povetkin’s career has been littered with good wins, and failed drug tests.
He holds knockout wins over Manuel Charr, Carlos Takam, Mike Perez and Mariusz Wach, but saw a 2016 WBC title tilt against Deontay Wilder go up in smoke due to a failed test.
Povetkin went on to fail another one prior to a scheduled interim title match with Bermaine Stiverne in November of the same year, bizarrely, the show went on, with Povetkin knocking out replacement Johann Duhaupas in six.
Three wins later saw him challenge Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium for the WBA (Super) IBF and WBO crowns. Povetkin gave Joshua a decent argument before being stopped in seven.
Since that September 2018 reverse, Alexander has fought twice more, first schooling Hughie Fury on the cards in August 2019 in London, before being held to a draw in Saudi Arabia by Michael Hunter, who looked to have done more than enough for the win.
Prediction: Whyte has cut a frustrated figure during his wait for a title shot, and will be facing Povetkin under a new training team, having parted ways with Mark Tibbs. He now has Xavier Miller in his corner, and it will be interesting to see the changes made, if any.
Povetkin will bull doze his way forward and try to throw Whyte off his rhythm, but I think Whyte can easily negate this by getting off shots of his own to dissuade the Russian from engaging. The Brixton based Jamaican should be able to fend Povetkin off for a wide points win.
The show stealer here could well be the rematch of possibly the greatest female boxing match of all time.
Katie Taylor (15-0, KO6) and Delfine Persoon (44-2, KO18) renew rivalries following their June 2019 classic, where Taylor controversially became Undisputed Lightweight Champion in New York with a razor thin majority win.
The WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO belts are again on the line in Essex.
Taylor had previously been untouchable prior to meeting the Belgian in the Big Apple.
As a five time World Amateur champion and 2012 Olympic Gold medallist, Taylor took to the pro ranks with ease, winning the WBA belt in her seventh contest, and defending against quality operators in Jessica McCaskill, Cindy Serrano and Eva Wahlstrom, picking up the IBF and WBO crowns along the way.
Persoon wasn’t expected to cause any sort of road block to Bray’s finest in their clash at Madison Square Garden, but the Belgian had other ideas.
The WBC champion took the fight to her opponent, and gave her all she could handle in ten absorbing rounds. A fair few observers had Persoon up, but she was denied by two points on two cards, with the third ruling a draw.
Both have fought once since that gripping night. Taylor became a two-weight World Champion with a points win over the tough WBO Super-Lightweight champion, Christina Linardatou in Manchester in November 2019, while Persoon outscored Helen Joseph nine days later.
Prediction: There has been needle in the build up to this one, with Persoon accusing Taylor of just running and holding her way to wins.
The Belgian has had to combine training with her full time job in the Police force, and the school of thought could be that she boxed out of her skin and came up short the first time around, so what adjustments could have been made for the rematch that could swing the fight her way.
I think Taylor would have learned a lot in the original meeting, and I expect her to stick to her boxing skills, and stay out of range, in a clear points win this time around.
The remainder of the card shapes up well with some 50/50 clashes.
At Super-Middleweight, Jack Cullen (18-2, KO9) and Zak Chelli (7-1, KO3) come together over ten rounds. ‘Little Lever’s Meat Cleaver’ Cullen is a former English champion, and gave Felix Cash a fright before being stopped in a Commonwealth title tilt at Middle in November last year.
22-year-old Chelli was last seen losing his unbeaten record in a thrilling scrap with Kody Davies, with the Welshman winning on the cards.
The tentative pick is for Chelli to take this one on the cards, as the naturally bigger man.
At Welterweight, Luther Clay (13-1, KO5) defends his WBO Global title against Chris Kongo (11-0, KO6).
Kongo steps up from six rounds for the first time in this ten rounder, while Clay has done eight rounds five times, and ten rounds twice.
Clay should be able to retain on the scorecards, although Kongo is the betting favourite.
Promising Croatian Heavyweight Alen Babic (3-0, KO3) gets a run out against Shawndell Winters (13-3, KO12) in a fight that should be fun while it lasts, with both men big punchers.